Having recently been seized by the urge to write some island-inspired poems, I took myself off to Flat Holm yesterday. As its name suggests, it’s the flatter of the two islands in the Bristol Channel and it was probably the first island to capture my imagination as a child, ever-visible as it is from both Somerset and South Wales, the two places where I grew up. Until yesterday, though, I’d never actually visited it.

The boat trip from Cardiff takes about an hour and visitors get to spend three hours ashore, most of which is taken up by a guided walking tour of the island. At this time of year, it’s impossible to avoid walking through the resident breeding colony of lesser black-backed gulls – they weren’t quite as fiercely territorial as the arctic terns I encountered in Iceland, but were still pretty fearsome. Dealing with all the dive-bombing and squawking was worth it, though, as I got to see gull chicks that were just-hatching from their speckled eggs, as well as damp-and- sticky gull chicks that had just hatched (see photo above – looking alarmingly lifeless and inert, though I was assured it was due to the effort it had just expended).

I was also introduced to a slow worm (which looks like a snake but is, in effect, a legless lizard). It coiled its beautiful copper-striped body round my fingers and this turned out to be an unexpected wildlife highlight.

I would have liked the opportunity to wander and explore alone, but visitors don’t get a chance to do this away from the tour group. Still, I made lots of notes, took lots of photos and hope that a damp-and-sticky Flat Holm poem will eventually hatch…

7 responses to “Islands – Part Two

  1. Huge thanks to you, Crafty Green Poet, for the review! I was thrilled with it and especially appreciate that you picked up on the environmental themes as some other reviewers haven’t done that.

    I’m sure I’ll be a regular visitor to your blog – will add a link to it too – it’s inspirational 🙂

    And we are definitely heading up to the Orkneys in early July! Do you have any special recommendations as to places that we should visit? (both wildlife and prehistory are of interest!)

  2. Thank you, Sue. Wonderful that you go to an island every summer. How long will you spending there this year? I think I’ve had island fantasies all my life too. Hoping to go up to the Orkneys this summer to feed the fantasies some more!

  3. Lovely, Susan. I’m an island addict myself, always longing to be on one, always having an island at the centre of some fantasy or other. There’s an island I go to every summer and I head there on July 1. Can’t wait, and now your musings are making it even more wonderful to think about.

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