Environment Wales Grant Application Submitted

Black Cap Bird

Black Cap ringed on Flat Holm

We have submitted this year’s grant application to Environment Wales today. A big thank you to everyone who has helped with this and sent in letters of support.

This year we are asking for funding to continue to enable us to assist in the long-running bird monitoring and ringing project. Flat Holm serves as a nesting ground for approximately 4000 pairs of Lesser Black Backed gulls. The grant will enable the society to continue to conduct gull ringing and population counts on the island. This year we are also proposing that during island visits, society member volunteers will also undertake general bird ringing and monitor other birds, butterfly, moth and bat species present on the Island. It is also proposed that the society will undertake regular vegetation surveys. It is hoped that we will be able to provide training to volunteers in survey and identification techniques for bird, butterfly, moth and bats.

Lesser Black Backed Gull

Lesser Black Backed Gull on Flat Holm

Finally, we are proposing to provide education in the importance of proper waste disposal and recycling through beach cleans and surveys. Surveys will show what waste is washing up on the beaches and information will be shared with the Marine Conservation Society. All items collected during beach clean activities will be recycled / disposed of in the appropriate way on the mainland.

If you would like to get involved in any of the volunteer work we are hoping to carry out this year then please email flatholm.society@gmail.com . We can offer a variety of different volunteering options on Flat Holm Island ranging from one day, overnight to longer periods of 1 – 2 weeks. This year we also hope to be able to offer some mainland based volunteering activities too!

St. David’s Day rugby is played on Flat Holm!

Funded by our Environment Wales grant, Warden Stewart Gray and several Society members, including two of our youngest and two of our oldest, took to a flat calm Bristol Channel at dawn on St David’s Day with Ryan from Bay Island Voyages for a working weekend on the island. Due to the terrible weather, it had been several weeks since a visit.

Winching the wind turbine

Carwyn and Stewart raise the wind turbine

On our initial walk around in windless, gorgeous sunshine, we were relieved to find the island in a very good state, with only minor storm damage to some guttering. The island welcomed us and St. David’s Day with beefy clumps of daffodils here and there. Easter also seems well anticipated with lots of huge rabbits and extensive burrowing higher up the cliff above West Beach.

The most urgent job was to overhaul the wind turbine so it could complement the solar panel power generation once more. Engineers Lee, Peter, Stewart and Bob got on with this, ably assisted by rugby player Carwyn contributing his magnificent strength to the arduous job of winching the pylon up and down.

Plastic washed up on West Beach

42 bottles, 15 balls, 5 shoes …

Meanwhile, down the hill on West Beach, Linda, Sarah and Ray conducted a beach survey. Once the Marine Conservation Society form was completed, 42 plastic bottles, 15 balls and 5 shoes were recorded … all just from West Beach. The flotsam included an intact rugby ball which Ray appropriated for an impromptu rugby game with his son Carwyn.

Pink granite boulder, West Beach

The boulder has moved …

Linda observed West Beach’s most famous resident, a pink granite erratic boulder, had been shifted by the huge storms. We also believe there has been some storm damage to the wave-form limestone karst pavement.

Sarah and Bob carried out a long overdue photographic vegetation survey while Linda swept the scrub with binoculars to count the impossibly elusive Soay sheep: all 26 are present and doing well.

After a toasty night in the farmhouse, where the temperamental kitchen range did a better job of cooking us than the food, we woke to a windy, grey and drizzly Sunday.

St David's Day rugby on Flat Holm

Rugby on St David’s Day with a ball found on West Beach

Kitted up in all our wet weather gear we did a bird walk, led by Stewart. Most lesser black-backed gulls are back, plump and well groomed, bickering over the prime nesting spots. A couple of ringed birds were noted but we could not get clear sight of the ring numbers. We spotted several pairs of oyster catchers on the beaches and a lone song thrush perching on an isolated cliff spot.

Vegetation and path clearing took us to mid-afternoon when the weather turned pretty dire.  Those of us going back were glad to see Ryan’s lights setting off from Penarth Head in the gathering gloom.

After a surprisingly smooth and dry ride back across the rainy, westerly swell, Sam let us through the barrage lock with the usual jokes on the public(!) tannoy. We celebrated safe arrival with a naughty roar around Cardiff Bay in the dark before being dropped, exhausted, damp and happy, at Environment Quay.

Do join us for the next working weekend on 29-30 March!

Future of Flat Holm island secured

FH IslandWe are very pleased to announce that at a meeting of the Cardiff council’s cabinet yesterday it was agreed that the island should remain open and operated by the authority until April 2015. Operational control will then be transferred to two unnamed national organisations which have been chosen as the preferred operator after the council sought expressions of interests.

This is excellent news for Flat Holm and the Society will continue to support the work of Cardiff Council and the new organisations during the period of transition and beyond.

Read the story about this in today’s Western Mail.

Spaces available on volunteer trip

Fancy a weekend with a difference?

gulls_put_upWe still have spaces on this weekend’s volunteer trip to Flat Holm Island. you are interested please email flatholm.society@gmail.com

The trip departs at 08:30 am on the 20th of September and departs Flat Holm at 10:30 on the 22nd September. All food and boat costs are covered by the Environment Wales Grant.

Matt the Warden has put together a list of jobs he needs help with including various general maintenance, painting and vegetation clearing work. During the trip there may also be an opportunity to assist the Valleys Bat Group in undertaking a survey of the Island.

You will have spare time to explore Flat Holm and enjoy a pint in the Gull and Leek.

Volunter Working Trips to Flat Holm Island

We are pleased to announce that we have the following volunteer trips out to Flat Holm Island scheduled for September.

7 – 8 September (TBC)

13 – 15 September

20 – 22 September

27 – 29 September

All trips involve staying on the island overnight in dormitory style accommodation.

If you, would like to come along on any of the trips (or know of anyone who would) please contact Jo Morgan (flatholm.society@gmail.com).

The trips provide you with an excellent opportunity to get involved with the on-going ringing and monitoring of species of the Birds on Flat Holm and to put your DIY, Maintenance and Gardening skills to good use.

The trips are a fun way to see Flat Holm Island, meet the team and spend some time taking part in the various volunteer tasks. You will also have plenty of opportunities to explore Flat Holm Island and even sample the delights of the island’s very own pub, The Gull and Leek.

The trips are funded by a grant the Flat Holm Society got from Environment Wales so the boat costs will be free and the food for the trip will be provided (although we may need to ask for a small donation towards this).  You do need to be a member of the society however, but at just £10 per year it is a bit of a bargain!  Just contact Jo Morgan (flatholm.society@gmail.com ) for a membership and a booking form

As the trips are fully funded all you will need to bring along is yourself, a change of clothes and a sleeping bag and possibly a donation towards the food provision for the weekend.

Spaces will be allocated on a first come first served basis so please book with Jo ASAP to secure yours.

If you would like to come along don’t forget to email Jo Morgan (flatholm.society@gmail.com ) for a membership and a booking form.

 

The Future of Flat Holm Island, an update

Flat Holm Island, sunset and sustainable development

Flat Holm Island, sunset and sustainable development

In February this year Cardiff Council announced its intention to withdraw funding the running of Flat Holm Island and seek other parties or individuals to take over the day to day operational management of the island.   Since then the Flat Holm Society have actively engaged with the Council and put forward a request that the Council continued to keep the island open for this summer period to allow time for organisations interested in taking on the running of Flat Holm to formulate management proposals.

In May, Cardiff Council formally advertised for expressions of interest (EOI) from organisations interested in taking on the operational management of Flat Holm.  In response the Flat Holm Society submitted an EOI and is currently awaiting a meeting with the council to discuss their submission.

The society is seeking support from people who have skills in the following areas:

  • General Management and / or Conservation Management
  • Marketing
  • Financial Management
  • Community Knowledge and Partnership working
  • Managing Assets
  • Human Resources
  • Business Planning
  • Legal
  • Fund Raising

If you have skills in any of the above areas and can offer your time to help us secure the future of Flat Holm please email: flatholm.society@gmail.com

Voices for a Small Island

FH IslandOur “Voices for a Small Island” poetry and story telling evening aboard the light ship in Cardiff Bay was a huge success. The sell-out event kicked off with a selection of island inspired poems read by our very own Bridget Box. Elinor Knapp followed with her atmospheric tales and poems set to sounds from the ocean.

Phillip Gross, double TS Elliot prize winner, read a collection of his poems taken from his book ” The Water Table”, his poems evoked memories of Flat Holm and reflected upon the changing, yet reassuring waters, of the Bristol Channel.

Richard Berry provided us with some very humorous and interactive stories and our very own, Andrea Griffiths, read a beautiful poem that she found when researching island poems.

As the evening drew to a close the audience were treated to excerpts from the stage show Titanic. The readings and music from the show were incredibly moving, all of this set in the wonderful setting of the Light Ship made it a very evocative and emotional performance.

Bridget brought the evening’s performances to a close with a final poem that explored how sleeping on an island can change a person for life, something that many of our members were able to relate to.

Peter Sampson was a very entertaining Master of Ceremonies for the evening and much thanks goes to him and Linda Burnell, who provided the inspiration for the evening and brought it to a reality. Many thanks are also given to all the performers who gave their time and made the evening very special. Finally we would like to extend a massive thank you to Helen Crane and Chris Debono from the Cardiff Light Ship, who were able to provide the fantastic setting for us and plenty of delicious cakes, tea and coffee.

Councillors vote on future of Flat Holm Island

Cardiff Councillors met on the 28th February 2013 to decide upon, amongst other things, how to approach the transition of the day to day running of Flat Holm Island to a new custodian organisation.  The island had been proposed for “disposal”, but will now be kept in council ownership in 2013-14, with opportunities for “alternative options” explored during the year.

The announcement, made in Council Chamber by the Councilor for Finance, Business and Local Economy, Russell Goodway, stated the following:

“A provision will be made to allow the Island to remain open to visitors during the coming summer.  In the meanwhile the Council will explore the creation of a partnership with another organisation which will take on the operation of the Island.  After the summer, and until the new arrangement is in place, it will not be possible to accommodate visitors to the island, but the facilities will continue to be maintained.”

The Flat Holm society has been working hard behind the scenes talking to the council and other organisations about the future of Flat Holm Island. We have submitted an expression of interest to the Council indicating that we want to start the process of forming a trust to run the Flat Holm.  We are also in discussions with a number of organisations who have expressed an interest in getting involved.

Support from the public has been amazing with 3,500 plus on the online petition.

Please watch this space for more information on our campagin progress and if you can make it please come to our AGM on the 6th March in the Norwegian Church.

 

 

 

Proposal to Save Flat Holm Island

Pircure of Flat Holm Island Light House

Flat Holm Island Light House

The Flat Holm society has been working hard behind the scenes talking to the council and other organisations about the future of Flat Holm Island. We have submitted a proposal to the Council indicating that we want to start the process of forming a trust to run the Flat Holm.  We are also in discussions with a number of organisations who have expressed an interest in getting involved.  The proposal was able to highlight that there is strong opposition to closing the island outright with the 3,500 plus signatures we have received on the online petition.

We need the Council to agree to continue funding the island for a number of months to enable us to put plans in place that would enable the island to stay open to members of the public, with the Flat Holm Trust taking on the day to day operations.

Picture of Oystercatchers on Flat Holm Island

Oystercatchers on Flat Holm Island

Cardiff Councillors are formally voting, about the future of Flat Holm, on the 28th February 2013. We hope they accept our proposal and grant us the transition time to start the process. We hope that the Island will be fully funded during that time, which we expect will be between now and September. That being the case, the Island will be able to gain some income from visitors over the summer and can be fully managed by the present staff.

There will be information about the current situation, post 28th Feb, at our AGM on 7th March at the Norwegian Church. We hope to see many of you there.

While we await the outcome of this please do continue to show your support for our campaign. If you live within the Cardiff areas please write to your local Councillors and AMs encouraging them to support our proposal that was submitted to Cllr Huw Thomas.  If you have not already done so please sign our online petition and if you would like to hear the latest news about our campaign please follow us on our Save Flat Holm island Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Thank you!

The Flat Holm Society Committee