Meet Lisa and Greg
Ramsey Island wardens
You might have caught Ramsey Island on the news, when they started enticing puffins back to nest on the island using brightly coloured, plastic decoys and recorded birdcalls.
We’re very excited at the prospect of having puffins back on the Island, so we caught up with Greg and Lisa, the resident wardens, to tell us about life with the birds!
VP: What are the best and worst parts of living on Ramsey?
The Best – Life is never boring! Our jobs are so varied depending on the weather and the time of year. One minute we could be delivering a lamb, the next counting seabirds, the next meeting visitors or leading a guided walk.
Worst – Running out of fresh fruit!
VP: What’s the most exciting wildlife sighting/experience you’ve had to date? Is there something you’re still waiting to see?
Most exciting – Discovering Storm-petrels nesting on Ramsey’s west coast for the first time on record. These tiny seabirds (like a swallow) nest in the crevices in rocks, burrows and in stone walls. They had never been recorded on Ramsey until 2008 when we discovered 5 pairs breeding. The eradication of Brown Rats back in 1999/2000 paved the way for these birds to set up home here.
Waiting to see – Puffins return to Ramsey after an absence of over 100 years
VP: Michael Palin once said ‘I am restless. I don’t mind leaving this comfortable, static life. I could live on my own in a remote place.’ Do you agree? Or do you miss the mainland?
Totally agree. I don’t think anyone could live on Ramsey 12 months of the year if they didn’t. But Ramsey is a life of contrasts. In the summer we welcome visitors, volunteers and researchers. There is always someone coming and going and you have to be chatty and enthusiastic, then in the winter we see very few people winter and you have to be happy with your own space and time.
I don’t miss mainland life although of course, you do miss family at times.
VP: After 9 years, do you feel like Ramsey is your home? And if so, do you ever mind visitors wandering through what is essentially your back garden? Or do you like the company?
We do feel very privileged to live and work in such an amazing place and it is a treat to have the place to ourselves at the end of a long and busy open season. But when it comes around to 1 April, we are always glad to see the Gower Ranger again. She brings our summer staff and volunteers many of whom are close friends, the boatmen are also our mates and it is good to catch up with them. And the excitement of our day visitors reminds us every day just how special the island is.
I do consider the island home, but am also aware that we are just the island’s guardians for a short time.
VP: If you could see one thing happen for the good of Ramsey in the next few years, what would it be?
For the future well-being of our seabirds, we need the UK administrations (including the Welsh Government) to honour the commitments they made under the Marine and Coastal Access bill and establish protected areas at sea. Although our birds are protected whilst on the island, once they head out to sea to feed or on migration they have no such luxury.
With growing pressure on our marine environment from fisheries, renewable energy technologies and mineral prospecting it has never been more critical to protect important areas for wildlife at sea.
We work hard to produce robust scientific evidence that can feed into discussions with decision makers and hopefully influence policy going forward. The continuation of the long-term studies that we carry out here on Ramsey with Manx shearwaters and with gannets on Grassholm is of vital importance.
VP: How has Dewi adapted to island life? Does he consider himself part razorbill or Manx shearwater?
Dewi has lived on Ramsey since he was 10 weeks old. He did all his learning and sheepdog training here, so is more part of the place than any of us. His favourite bird is definitely Manx shearwater, in fact, he can sniff out an occupied burrow and point it out to us.
VP: How does contact with the outside world work-do you have Internet?
Nine years ago we had very little communications technology available to us. We had very limited power and our single computer ran off a car battery! We still rely on VHF radio contact with our boatmen and the Coastguard at Milford Haven in an emergency, but now also have good mobile phone coverage and internet access.