Tuesday, 9 November 2010

South Stack – tradition, technology and winter coffee

In the good old days, when land was common, farmers would move with their livestock, protecting them from wolves, and guide them to better grazing.  The same process of close shepherding is happening each autumn on the RSPB reserve at South Stack. It’s a practical approach to control the sheep without fencing in 500 acres of land. 

Each morning the shepherd collects the mixed flock of Hebridean, Welsh mountain and badger face sheep from an enclosure. By the time he arrives they are waiting at the gate, keen to be out for breakfast.

Before setting off a small GPS system is fixed with sticky tape round the horn of a large ewe. At the end of the day the device is removed and the data downloaded to a PC for analysis and creation of a map showing the grazing route of the flock.

It’s all part of the work that goes into maintaining and enhancing the heathland for the benefit of the heath and all it supports including choughs and silver studded blues.  A great sight to see, this tradition re-introduced. Thanks to, amongst others, Hilary Kehoe of the Anglesey Grazing Animals Partnership.

What’s more the RSPB have acquired the café and are keeping it open during the winter. On a blustery day a warming cup of coffee is very welcome. 

For more information about South Stacks click here
For more information about conservation grazing on Anglesey click here