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Easter bunnies at Skomer

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Large number of bunnies: Skomer’s abundance of rabbits (pic. Richard Bowler)

SKOMER ISLAND is renowned for its breath-taking wildlife and stunning scenery, with people coming from all over the world to witness the waddling walk of a Puffin and hear the mysterious calls of the Manx Shearwaters.

With dolphin sightings from the cliffs, perching razorbills and the slender guillemot, the island really is a true wildlife haven to behold.

But what some visitors may often be surprised about when visiting Skomer is the abundance of rabbits on the island, and the diversity of colours within them. From an ordinary sandy brown right through to white collared rabbits and even black rabbits, the variety is intriguing.

Rabbits were introduced to Skomer around 700 years ago by the Normans, and Skomer and Coney Island was used as a rabbit farm. On Skomer, they have grown used to visitors and often graze at the edge of the path as you walk past.

Their communities consist of a dominant male with several females and subordinate males. Each community occupies a distinct tunnel system called a warren, often with several entrances. They prefer to make burrows beneath rock outcrops and walls, and in grass-free, tall, dense vegetation, represented on the island by bracken and brambles.

Skomer rabbits only produce one litter, usually in April, consisting of about three kittens (baby rabbits). The way in which Skomer rabbits are able to curtail their reproduction is the secret to their success in adapting to the small amount of space available on Skomer, as apposed to the mainland.

Rabbits have numerous positive effects for nature conservation on Skomer and they have a three main beneficial effects in maintaining Skomer’s wildlife diversity. Although Manx Shearwaters and Puffins can dig their own burrows, they will also use old rabbit burrows as well.

They also keep the vegetation low, as the rabbits allow plants to have access to light which increases the botanical diversity of the island. In good rabbit years, it is thought that less seabirds are predated upon by the islands top predators.

April is also a special time on the island for seabirds – Puffins in particular – as they will return to land where their courtship takes place. The bonus of staying overnight is that at this time of year, Puffins will often spend their days out at sea and then return to Skomer in the evenings, sometimes putting on a spectacular wheeling display in North Haven.

If you would like to book a stay on Skomer this spring and have a truly wild adventure, you can call 01656 724100.

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Haverfordwest: Fresh artist on the block ready for exhibition

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AN EXHIBITION showcasing the work of an extremely talented local artist will open on Monday, August 1 at The VC Gallery in High Street, Haverfordwest.

Maxine Bunston from Haverfordwest, who has only had one year of experience in the art industry, has managed to create a huge range of fantastic art work, that she will be proudly presenting next week.

The Herald caught up with Maxine, to talk about the art that she will be exhibiting, and what it means to her. She said: “It’s escapism from mental health. It keeps me distracted from low self esteem, especially when people have commented on my appearance. But, mainly, it’s a distraction from mental health and self harm.”

Many of Maxine’s beautiful paintings depict delicate fairies, and The Herald asked Maxine why she decided to feature these in her work. She said: “They’re mystical and magical, and it’s escapism in the way of feeling like a child: Everything is innocent, and it’s the light-heartedness of life, really.”

Maxine has long struggled with mental health, and her art has reflected her emotions and what she was going through at the time.

Everything is innocent: Maxine paints to escape from mental health

Friend of Maxine and regular at The VC Gallery, Mia Gillies, said: “I’ve known Maxine for 10 years, and she started doing art at Bro Cerwen. I’ve seen her evolve from celtic style into really detailed fairy work, with dots and lots of action going on.

“She has really streamlined her work and now, you recognise it as Maxine’s work. It’s also not messy and more, it’s really clean and very intricate.”

All of the paintings at Maxine’s exhibition, which runs from August 1 until August 31, are for sale with prints available on request.

When asked if she classes herself as an artist, Maxine said: “No, I don’t like to call myself an artist. If someone asks me what I do, I don’t say that I’m an artist.”

If you would like to visit The VC Gallery to see Maxine’s wonderful work on display, you can do so from 10am until 5pm, Monday to Friday. To view Maxine’s work online, you can also visit www.facebook.com/escapistfantasyart

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Teacher recruits family and friends for Tenby 10k run

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Declan Lynch (kneeling, right): With a selection of the runners he has recruited

AN YSGOL BRO GWAUN teacher has recruited nearly two dozen friends and family members to participate in a 10km run in Tenby on Sunday (Jul 30) in memory of his mother.

The annual Tenby 10k starts at 11am and follows a scenic route in and around Tenby.

Declan Lynch, an IT teacher, is raising money for Paul Satori following the death of his mother, Ellen, last year.

On his JustGiving page, Declan said: “Early last year my Mum, Ellen, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. After a long battle, she passed away peacefully on November 7th 2016.

“One promise I made to her was that I would get fit and raise money for the charities that gave us as a family invaluable support and equipment to make Mum as comfortable as possible; one of these being the Paul Sartori Foundation.

“Money can’t bring Mum back, nor can show our appreciation to all the charities that helped us at these hard times, however by doing whatever little I can to help will enable anyone going through tough times to have the same support that we received.”

So far, Declan has raised £1501, exceeding his initial goal, but he hopes to raise more in one final push for donations before the run.

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Charity Bike Ride returns next month

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HAVERFORDWEST HORNETS will be running the Pembrokeshire Charity Bike Ride on August 6 from the Haverfordwest Rugby Club at 8am.

All money raised is going to Paul Sartotri, Prostate Cymru and Pembrokeshire Special Needs Gymnastics Group.

There are three routes to choose from:

Family ride to Neyland Marina (17 miles) along cycle path from Haverfordwest – Children go free but must be accompanied by a paying adult. Children who fund raise £20 will get a free entry into Folly Farm.

28 Mile route (Middle Distance)- taking in some views and a few hills to stretch the legs. (Under 16 must be accompanied)

50 Mile route out to St Davids and back. (Under 16 must be accompanied)

All routes will be on open roads/paths but marshals will be situated throughout the rides. Bike maintenance will be on hand from Mikes Bikes.

The event will conclude with a refreshments and entertainment.

In 2001, Phil and Tim Hughes got together with Mark Rendell of Mike’s Bikes and some other cycling friends set up the Pembrokeshire Charity Bike Rode and raised £1080.

Due to this small event being such a success they decided to stage the event again and it grew with the participation of a larger number of cyclists in 2002 and the event raised over £3000 and has continued to grow in popularity every year.

From this, the event has become a firm date in the Pembrokeshire calendar and to date the Pembrokeshire Charity Bike Ride has raised over £145,000 for local charities including Paul Sartori, Ward 10, Pembrokeshire Puffins, SNAP, HOPE, Shalom House, Pembrokeshire Guide Dogs, FRAME and many more.

In 2009, Pembrokeshire Charity Bike Ride became registered a charity.

The bike ride is now run by a small committee of volunteers from the Haverfordwest Hornets. They receive excellent financial sponsorship from local companies which means that 100% of the funds raised go to Pembrokeshire Charities.

 

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