Saturday, 8 September 2007
Today I helped Bob, one of our regular visitors with a guided walk. We tried to cover all aspects of the island: the flowers, insects, and birds, as well as some of the history. There weren't huge numbers of birds around but I think everyone enjoyed it. Maybe this is something I would like to do more of in the future.
Autumn is almost here and the whole island is covered in fruit. In the past week we have been picking blackberries, damsons and apples. We have been using these in jams, pies, and for flavouring spirits. Other natural foods are also around in abundance. With the fruit, mushrooms, fish, and the vegetables from the patch we are almost self-sufficient!
This time of year - at the start of the Autumn migration, can be good for birds. But this year the birds have not arrived, or they have just flown over the island. Migration patterns are always affected by the weather. We believe we may be seeing a gradual change in the numbers and types of birds arriving.
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
Every morning I do a 'round' of the south end of the island. This is one of my favourite parts of the job as I get to see the island at dawn before the crowds arrive. Sometimes there are lots of birds on the ground and flying over, but most often it is quiet at this time of year.
Today I discovered a new fishing spot at the south end of the island. Here two currents merge and the waters are pretty rough. It's pretty deep too and there seem to be lots of fish there. I caught a bag full of mackerel in about half an hour. It seems to have lots of potential given calm weather conditions, but it's perhaps not the place to go in a south-westerly.
Today was a momentous day in the history of my new vegetable patch. I managed to harvest my first carrots. The first few that I pulled were stunted and split, but soon there were a few that were actually carrot-shaped. It was great to have some fruits from all that labour. I cooked them up and they actually seemed to taste better than 'shop' carrots but maybe that was just wishful thinking!
Friday, 24 August 2007
This evening we spent an interesting hour recycling used drink cartons. Well we were actually making cardboard wallets out of them! We were given expert instruction by one of our visitors in folding the tetrapak cartons. It soon became apparent that some of our female visitors were choosing cartons to match their wardrobes! Watch out for people using them in the shops very soon.
This evening we watched the sun go down from the Observatory. We can see Ireland from here and it was a very clear night. As the sun disappeared behind the Wicklow hills we saw the famous "green flash" in the final few seconds as the sun went down. Well it was more of a spectacular turquoise blue colour. It only lasted a few seconds but was a rare sight.
Wednesday, 15 August 2007
People are always asking me if I get bored on the island and how I fill my spare time. Well I listen to the radio when I can and try to keep up with the latest 'pop hits'. Westwood on Radio 1, Radio Cymru, Phantom FM from Dublin. It keeps me in touch with outside world a bit. I doubt that the lighthouse cottage has echoed to the sounds of hip-hop much in the past!
Today we began the major task of installing the new generator, kindly donated to us. It had to be dragged up a very steep slope using a winch and rollers. It was a slow process but one that had to be done safely. Thanks are due to our able volunteers the two Bevans and Ian. It was hot and dirty work but by the end of the day the huge engine was at the top of the slope. I thought it was amazing what could be achieved with ropes, planks, rollers and a few crowbars.
Today I returned to the island after a week off. Another rather rough boat trip! I am beginning to get the nickname 'Jonah'. My sea legs were tested again but I made it to the island unscathed. It was good to be back and see familiar faces on the quay. I then had to unload 3 months food supply. The foghorn sounded to greet my return.
Monday, 30 July 2007
I left the island today for a weeks holiday. I'm glad to say the weather was much better than my last trip off the island, and I arrived at Porth Meudwy in one piece. However, when I arrived in the farm to pick up my car, it appeared my exhaust was not in the same state! I managed to tie it on with some string and cable ties. As we managed to move the car, it appeared some wayward chicken had laid three eggs under my car, obviously believing it to be a permanent fixture. A rather fraught journey followed this but I made it back to Ynys Mon. Thanks to everyone for their help, especially the good samaritan from Rhoshirwaun.
An interesting and enjoyable night as we had a 'ceilidh' in the schoolhouse. I am not known for my dancing skills, but it got easier as the night, and a few gin and tonics, wore on. (Apologies to any of the ladies I may have trod on!) A lot of the visitors joined in the various Scottish dances, and there was even limbo dancing, and some impressions of lighthouses to see. I somehow managed to bruise my ribs after falling over. After last year's pulled shoulder in the Sports Day this is becoming a regular event.
Today I started the rather tedious, but necessary, task of cutting the grass and 'weeding' the trees in the new plantation at the north end of the island. I was ably assisted by our very helpful volunteer, Sian, and her family. It was certainly a case of "more hands make light work", even if it did take us till Friday to finish the job. About 95% of the trees that were planted in December are still alive, so hopefully many of them will continue to prosper as a result of our work.
Today there was a large 'attraction' of over 100 Manx Shearwaters around the lighthouse. The darkness and heavy rain meant lots of birds became disorientated. I managed to collect about 75 birds which had become grounded. After ringing them, we spent the late evening releasing them back to sea, off the clifftop. Lots of people took part, and it was interesting to see the many different methods of launching birds into the air! They all left happily, none the worse for the experience.
I had a great time fishing tonight, when I managed to catch some bass off the west coast of the island. These were the first I had caught in two years, and they had taken on a kind of 'mythical' quality. They were feeding quite close inshore and took a metal spinner near the bottom. I also caught a few Pollack and Mackerel at the same time. We had a good meal the following evening! You can't beat really fresh fish, and Steve did a great job in the preparation.
Thursday, 12 July 2007
Spent some of the morning in the south hide on the tip of the island. I was left wondering what has happened to the summer, it was like last November. The wind was blowing gale force and the showers were coming down. Shearwaters were clipping the waves in their thousands. Kittiwakes and Fulmars were struggling into the wind, and a tiny storm petrel was lost in a wave trough. It was spectacular but I can't remember having to wear a hat and gloves in July before!
On a wet afternoon I discovered an interesting book about life on Enlli in the early 20th century. It was a hard life here at the time but obviously a happy one. People seemed a lot more self-sufficient too, as contact with the mainland was often sporadic. There must have been some tough men on the island as they rowed across the sound, taking a couple of hours. With the benefit of an engine this journey takes about 20 minutes today, which made me realise how much we take for granted in our modern technological world.
Friday, 6 July 2007
This week I got to learn a lot about chickens. We had a couple of experts staying here. I learnt what they like to eat, how to treat their ailments, and how to stop them going broody. We have a few chickens here and now I'll know how to keep them happy in future. Just as long as they keep giving us plenty of eggs.