But, I have had categorically the best summer I think I can remember...
Residential volunteering at RSPB South Stack was amazing.
I arrived a day early and stayed in the port town of Holyhead Angelesy, I had heard it was a pretty depressing place. The town itself is a little run down and sad and is just a typical port town, somewhere people only come through on route elsewhere.
I had a walk on my first evening after checking in, I walked down to the harbour, it was a nice warm evening and kids were still jumping off the harbour wall into the sea, which was crystal blue and lush.
I sat and had a beer in the marine skerries, aptly I chose a Badger Breweries Poacher's Choice. I sat out on the harbour drinking my beer when I spotted a bird on the water I did not recognise. I grabbed my bins and my trusty book, and identified a Black Guillemot within minutes of sitting down, having a beer, my kind of birding that.
On the walk back I sat and had dinner at the Harbour Bistro, I sat outside on the decking, had a few Brecon G&Ts, I had goats cheese parcels to start and Veggie Enchiladas for main.
I spotted that they were showing the new planet of the apes at the small newly refurbished cinema just up the hill from my hotel, so I booked a ticket, having only recently seen the first film which I loved.
To my surprise when I arrived there was a massive queue and it was completely sold out as there really is nothing else to do in Holyhead.
The screen was small and packed and the sound was crap, but the film was awesome.
I had a nice sleep, eggs on toast and set off for South Stack.
I met Dave who was to be my roomy for the week, funnily enough he's a former Barry boy himself. We check into our cottage, unpack and have a few hours to explore before induction.
(all photos Olympus XA2 35mm film)
The site instantly blew me away as we strolled up through the heather and it just opened out to rugged sea cliffs, Chough calling overhead, then we got to the main seabird colony cliff the noise was unreal and there were around 6000 Guillemots and 900 Razorbills on the cliff face. The drop off the edge made my legs go to jelly and I had to step back. Dave on the other hand was straight over the wall taking pictures. We walked to the lighthouse steps and within minutes saw Puffins and Juvenile Peregrine this years chick calling for food.
Over the next few days working in Elin's tower encouraging people to use scopes to get a better view of the wildlife. I saw Gannets out at sea, Porpoise, Seals, Kittiwakes, Chough and more. I talked to people from all over the world about the plight of our seabirds. I roved the site picking up litter and helping people identify birds and insects.
(These are some of my drawings and paintings from the trip)
On my day off I walked upto the Holy Mountain I watched a family of three Peregrines learning food pass behaviour. I summited the Holy mountain which has amazing views of the whole of Angelsey towards snowdonia.
I followed the coastal path down on my descent towards north stack. I reached north stack had a mosey around. Then followed the coastal path towards Holyhead. I stopped for lunch saw the peregrine family learning to hunt gulls, one of the juveniles caught a juvenile gull and spiral dived with it trying to stun it, the other peregrines joined in then an adult gull gave an alarm call and loads of gulls emerged. I lost sight as they dived down behind a cliff.
I followed the coast path to breakwater country park. Where I stopped for an ice cream and a Vimto.
When I got back to the cottage I decided to go for a swim. There was a small secluded cove at the bottom of the lane very rocky and a steep climb down, but I had visited previous evening and there had been a seal fishing in the cove for half an hour. I borrowed dave's sea shoes, as it was very rocky. As soon as I got past the first few rocks there was a 12" plunge pool. Totally secluded no one else around led on my back in the sea in the sun and a red kite sails over not known on Anglesey to my knowledge amazing!
On my last day I visited the lighthouse on the island. On the way down still lots of puffins, razorbills and guillemots around. I climbed to the top of the lighthouse amazing views was also lucky enough to see a pod of porpoises fishing off the headland from the top.
At the bottom there is an amazing little exhibition of original plates from CF Tunnicliffe's peregrine sketchbook, from south stack 1912. Needless to say I was blown away and would be hunting a copy down as soon as I got back.
On the bridge on the way back I spotted a large male grey seal in the water quite close. I watched him for a few minutes beautiful, the lady in the bridge toll house informed me he's called Neal the seal and he's been coming back there to feed for four years.
I had a bit of lunch packed up my things and left for the cafe to wait for my cab wishing I was staying and that this was my place of work. Just as I was about to get in my cab the manager came out and said the two new volunteers weren't coming and I could have stayed for another fortnight gutted, but in the words of Arnie "I'll be back"