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Conservation Programmes on Caldey Island

Several years ago Caldey began an exciting project to preserve and enhance the island as a much-needed wildlife conservation area. With the help of wildlife experts, we have completed many aspects of improving the structure of the island so that wildlife will thrive.

Several years ago Caldey began an exciting project to preserve and enhance the island as a much-needed wildlife conservation area. With the help of wildlife experts, we have completed many aspects of improving the structure of the island so that wildlife will thrive.

Rat eradication: The aim of this project has been to allow the natural wildlife of an island habitat to increase, and it has been estimated that within five years of a rat-free environment, Caldey’s natural wildlife will increase by 400%. For example, ground-nesting birds such as puffins may be attracted and our aim is to re-establish a colony of puffins on Caldey, and increase the numbers of puffins on St Margaret’s island.

Rat eradication:
The aim of this project has been to allow the natural wildlife of an island habitat to increase, and it has been estimated that within five years of a rat-free environment, Caldey’s natural wildlife will increase by 400%. For example, ground-nesting birds such as puffins may be attracted and our aim is to re-establish a colony of puffins on Caldey, and increase the numbers of puffins on St Margaret’s island.

Other species such as hedgehogs will also thrive without the presence of rats. We are indebted to Simon Walters of West Wales Wildlife & Pest Control, (westwalespestcontrol.co.uk) and his keen team for all their work in ensuring that Caldey is now 100% rat-free.

Other species such as hedgehogs will also thrive without the presence of rats.
We are indebted to Simon Walters of West Wales Wildlife & Pest Control, (westwalespestcontrol.co.uk) and his keen team for all their work in ensuring that Caldey is now 100% rat-free.

Red Squirrels: Three red squirrels arrived on the island in 2016 after an extensive programme of rat eradication, and then a further 12 were added in 2017. The island is following a greatly-researched, closely-monitored and supplemented conservation programme, where the health and happiness of the squirrels is paramount. The aim is for the reds to live in natural habitat with no competition from grey squirrels, which is a rare thing in the UK. The squirrels' welfare is continually assessed, and so far they are enjoying their surroundings, building dreys, finding food, exploring the island, and raising young. We were delighted to have spotted numerous kits during 2018 and 2019 and they are now an increasingly common sight over all areas of the island where there are trees. The squirrels are being fed hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, cuttlefish and calciworms via 22 feeders (with the first year’s feed sponsored by Tenby Lions). The feeders are topped up twice weekly, though in addition there are a variety of natural foods for the squirrels to forage in the woodland areas. The feeding stations allow us to observe and sometimes film the squirrels’ feeding habits which provides valuable information for us in monitoring their activity and numbers. The island is now planting further areas of native trees to provide more food for the squirrels in the future. Management of the gene-pool began by introducing squirrels from different stocks, and will continue by movement of squirrels within conservation projects in the UK. The introduction was made possible with the expertise and advice of wildlife expert Dr. Nick Fox of International Wildlife Consultants near St. Clears. We are also very grateful to Tenby Lions, and to Simon Hart, MP.

Red Squirrels:
Three red squirrels arrived on the island in 2016 after an extensive programme of rat eradication, and then a further 12 were added in 2017. The island is following a greatly-researched, closely-monitored and supplemented conservation programme, where the health and happiness of the squirrels is paramount. The aim is for the reds to live in natural habitat with no competition from grey squirrels, which is a rare thing in the UK. The squirrels' welfare is continually assessed, and so far they are enjoying their surroundings, building dreys, finding food, exploring the island, and raising young.
We were delighted to have spotted numerous kits during 2018 and 2019 and they are now an increasingly common sight over all areas of the island where there are trees.
The squirrels are being fed hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, cuttlefish and calciworms via 22 feeders (with the first year’s feed sponsored by Tenby Lions). The feeders are topped up twice weekly, though in addition there are a variety of natural foods for the squirrels to forage in the woodland areas. The feeding stations allow us to observe and sometimes film the squirrels’ feeding habits which provides valuable information for us in monitoring their activity and numbers. The island is now planting further areas of native trees to provide more food for the squirrels in the future.
Management of the gene-pool began by introducing squirrels from different stocks, and will continue by movement of squirrels within conservation projects in the UK.
The introduction was made possible with the expertise and advice of wildlife expert Dr. Nick Fox of International Wildlife Consultants near St. Clears.
We are also very grateful to Tenby Lions, and to Simon Hart, MP.

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Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs have been around for 15 million years, once roaming Britain with mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers. But in the past sixty years these much-loved mammals have been driven towards extinction. It is estimated that in the 1950s, there were over 35 million hedgehogs in the UK, whereas they now number about a million, mainly due to the shrinking of their natural habitat. The hedgehog is now a conservation priority. We hope they will thrive on Caldey due to the abundance of natural habitat, the lack of predators, and practically no chance of being run over by cars. They are certainly being seen here more frequently than they once were.

Butterflies and Moths: Caldey Island is working together with ‘Butterfly Conservation’ (butterfly-conservation.org) to develop the island’s unique mix of woods, coastline and pastures to ensure an improved habitat for butterflies and moths. We’ll soon be undertaking a programme to count and identify our resident moths and butterflies, as well as many of those varieties that use us as a staging post during their migrations (e.g. 2018 saw several humming-bird hawk-moths visiting us for the summer).    Photo of a Convolvulus Hawk Moth, a large (5.5cm) migratory visitor to Caldey from Southern Europe / Africa.

Butterflies and Moths:
Caldey Island is working together with ‘Butterfly Conservation’ (butterfly-conservation.org) to develop the island’s unique mix of woods, coastline and pastures to ensure an improved habitat for butterflies and moths. We’ll soon be undertaking a programme to count and identify our resident moths and butterflies, as well as many of those varieties that use us as a staging post during their migrations (e.g. 2018 saw several humming-bird hawk-moths visiting us for the summer).

Photo of a Convolvulus Hawk Moth, a large (5.5cm) migratory visitor to Caldey from Southern Europe / Africa.

This project will be led by Russel Hobson, Head of Conservation for Wales and his team of butterfly and moth experts, who commenced the very early stages of the butterfly count in 2018 and this continued into 2019, with the moth count due to take place in 2020. (The previous count for moths here occurred in 1920, so this will provide an invaluable set of comparative statistics 100 years later !).    Photo of a Small Tortoiseshell courtesy of Mark Searle & Butterfly Conservation

This project will be led by Russel Hobson, Head of Conservation for Wales and his team of butterfly and moth experts, who commenced the very early stages of the butterfly count in 2018 and this continued into 2019, with the moth count due to take place in 2020. (The previous count for moths here occurred in 1920, so this will provide an invaluable set of comparative statistics 100 years later !).

Photo of a Small Tortoiseshell courtesy of Mark Searle & Butterfly Conservation

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Soay sheep, a very hardy animal well-suited to a sometimes harsh island environment, and listed as being at risk by the Rare Breed Survival Trust, are now on Caldey. Additions to the flock have also arrived to join them in making their home on the luscious pastures in the western sector of the island and providing a valuable contribution to the continued existence of this rare breed. 2019 saw the birth of an additional 16 lambs.

Other successful introductions:
We have recently introduced several species to the island, such as Black Swans, English and French Partridges, Golden Pheasants and Barnacle Geese.  All seem to be happy and thriving.  Other species, such as the Woodcock which is on the RSPB UK Conservation Status Red List, and Peregrine Falcons, have also made a home here.