Gull Counting on Flat Holm

As it’s nearly gull count time of year we thought this poem by society member, Cheryl O’Brien seemed highly appropriate!

I’m sure they saw us coming
While we crossed from the mainland
As they saw us coming
The assault on us was planned.
They sat there in their hundreds
Across the island and the cliffs
Organising in battalions
To shower us with gifts.
We came as friends to count them
To measure numbers of the birds
To calculate their rise or fall
But it’s don’t think that’s what they heard.
The moment that they saw us
They started hollering and screaming
No sweet melodious songs,
Every nightmare we’d been dreaming.
They swooped, aimed for our heads
Gave us a swipe with taloned feet
Firing from both ends
The ammunition that they eat.
Hard hats, weatherproofs
The armour that we wore
Their aim almost perfect
As they totted up their score.
Some of us were covered
Some of us escaped
We all knew fully well
What could be called our fate.
In the end we managed
Found the nests and counted all.
They say manure’s a nutrient
Maybe now we’ll all grow tall.
At dusk we retreated
In a boat across the wild sea foam
Exhausted, soaked, aromatic
Leaving the gulls guarding their Holm.
Cheryl O’Brien 2021 ©

Seeking Volunteers

Flat Holm
The society is currently looking for volunteers to help with the daily running of the charity.

We work alongside Cardiff Council’s Flat Holm Project Team to protect the island’s flora, fauna and historical features. We are currently looking for volunteers to help with the daily running of the charity and are interested in hearing from people who might be able to spare a few hours a week volunteering.  We are particularly keen to hear from people who might be interested in volunteering in the following areas:

·         Treasurer

·         Administrative tasks such as membership, minute taking and correspondence

·         Organising volunteer trips out to Flat Holm

·         Grants and fund raising

·         Organising events

If you would like to find out more about any of these volunteer roles, please email:  

Ghostly going-ons!

Flat Holm wardens and volunteers over the years have encountered a fair few unexplained occurrences on the island ranging from the sound of footsteps in a deserted building, the disappearance of tools and the feeling of a presence in certain rooms however, I don’t think any of them have witnessed an actual sighting… UNTIL NOW!!!

Dark Tales presents Small Island Ghost, the pilot episode of a darkly narrated anthology series. Filmed on Flat Holm this spooky story is sure to have you looking over your shoulder next time you visit!!!

Sleep well and don’t have nightmares!

Flat Holm – A Walk Through Time

Whilst trips out to the island are unfortunately off the agenda for the time being you might find yourself longing for holm! Flat Holm – A Walk Through Time might be just the thing you are looking for to alleviate the holmsickness!

Grab yourself some popcorn and settle down to watch this stunning new film which explores the sights, sounds, history and nature of this special island.

We need your help!

Cardiff Harbour Authority, the RSPB and the Flat Holm Society are working together on a major project, which will help us protect the heritage and wildlife of the island for future generations, and bring its amazing stories to life for visitors, as well as people on both sides of the Bristol Channel. The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded an initial grant to help with planning.

We want to know what you think it’s important to include in our plans for the “Flat Holm – A Walk Through Time” project; from activities and events on the island to ways of finding out more and sharing your own stories. Please help us secure the full grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund by completing this brief questionnaire.

Aerial image of Flat Holm
Flat Holm – A Walk Through Time

Lake name recognises pioneering naturalist

A lake on Macquerie Island in Antarctica has been named after Dr Mary Gillham.

Mary was a pioneering naturalist and prolific wildlife author, who took an active interest in the environment for over 80 years. Mary had a long history of involvement with Flat Holm which stemmed from her life-long fascination with island habitats, their conservation and how they changed over time.

You can read more about Mary’s expedition to Macquerie Island and her life’s work of documenting well over 100,000 wildlife records spanning 70 years, on the Mary Gillham Archive website.

Society Member Wins National Award.

Society member, Lara Davies, has won 2nd place in the National CSAD Ceramics Excellence Award.

Now in it’s third year, the award recognises excellence in work from students at schools and colleges around the UK.  It is a celebration of emerging talent and the potential of ceramics in encouraging significant material understanding both within arts practice and in prompting wider appreciation of our material world. From the physics of modelling sculpturally to the alchemy of technical glaze application – the breadth of ceramics as a discipline is expansive and constantly evolving.

Lara’s vase incorporates the features and people that are Flat Holm Island and combines a range of complex techniques including sculpting, etching and glazing. 

Well done Lara!

Lara with her award winning vase.

Flat Holm – A Walk Through Time

Arial shot of Flat Holm Island
Flat Holm Island – Have your say!

The Flat Holm project want’s your views! Whether you have visited Flat Holm or not the Flat Holm project would love to hear your views about their plans for the island.

Find out all about “Flat Holm – A Walk Through Time” the National Lottery Heritage Fund – Cymru project with RSPB Cymru and the Flat Holm Society, on BBC Radio Wles’ Country Focus programme.

Presenter Rachael Garside heads over to to Flat Holm to find out about the upcoming renovation and environmental works and how the visitor experience will be improved. Listen online at:

Then complete the online survey at:

National company ensures annual gull Survey goes ahead

Cardiff based Admiral Group plc has ensured that the 2019 gull count can go ahead with a generous donation of £340.

Flat Holm is an important breeding colony for lesser black-backed, herring and great black-backed gulls. The gull survey has been running on Flat Holm since the 1950’s and provides valuable population data on amber listed species that have been in decline for some time.

The survey involves a team of volunteers undertaking the survey and the money will fund the boats required to take the volunteers to Flat Holm.

We are incredibly grateful to Admiral for their donation as grant funding for this important monitoring study has all but dried up over more recent times. The money will ensure that the ongoing monitoring of this important species can continue for the 2019 season.

If you are interested in finding out more about how to get involved with the gull survey and other volunteering on Flat Holm island please drop us an email!