RSPB Ramsey Island Nature Reserve
ST DAVIDS, PEMBROKESHIRE
In spring and summer the Ramsey Island NNR, off the west coast of Pembrokeshire, is home to numerous breeding seabirds, among them guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and fulmars, while peregrine falcons, choughs and ravens also build their nests on Ramsey’s rocky cliffs. The razorbills and guillemots are the first to leave after raising their young and are usually gone by the end of July,while the kittiwakes and fulmars remain until the end of August. The maritime heathland of the island is the only breeding site for the lapwing in Pembrokeshire. Oystercatchers, on the other hand, are thriving on Ramsey and the other Pembrokeshire islands. The profusion of wildflowers on Ramsey is a truly wonderful sight. From the early spring-flowering bluebells and spring squill, there is a procession of brightly-coloured flowers, such as sea campion and dense mats of thrift which cling to the cliffs, alongside common dog violets. These are followed by bird’s-foot trefoil and cat’s ear. There are also the remnants of an ancient population of juniper bushes.
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About the area
Wales meets the Atlantic Ocean in spectacular fashion at Pembrokeshire. Unlike the West Country, Pembrokeshire can offer the coast without the crowds, and quaint fishing villages without those huge coach parks. Volcanic eruptions and earth movements have left a tortured rocky coastline of some 160 miles, whose beauty and drama have been recognised by National Park status.
Sometimes known as ‘Little England Beyond Wales’, the county has held a fascination for English visitors ever since the first Norman warlords forced their way in 800 years ago, leaving a string of 50 fine castles in their wake. The anonymous author of The Mabinogion, an 11th-century collection of Welsh folk legends, started it all. His description of the old Celtic kingdom of Dyfed (which encompasses Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire) as ‘the land of magic and enchantment’ was perhaps the earliest written attempt to sum up the outstanding natural beauty of this wonderful westernmost outpost of Wales. This is a county where you can take it easy on the sandy beaches, make sport out of those Atlantic waves, or discover the mysteries of St David’s or the ancient Preseli Hills.
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