Tuesday, 27 January 2015

2014 Bird Reports

Jason Moss, our extremely hard working Assistant Warden in 2014 has produced an excellent Bird Report for last year which is packed full of information on our breeding birds and accounts of all of the migrants that were recorded last year. It, and last years full Seabird Report, are available by clicking here.

There were many highlights from the 2014 season including four first records for the island and four that were recorded for only the second time.

Many thanks to Jason for his time and help producing this report and we look forward to seeing him again in the coming season.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Friends reunion 2015

The annual get together of the Friends of Skokholm and Skomer is coming up, on the 15th of Feb, at the Tithe Barn, Chelternham. Meeting at 10:30 for coffee before a day cram packed with great talks and a light hearted look at the islands past, present and future.  

Friends of Skokholm& Skomer Annual Reunion
The Tithe Barn; Cheltenham Road Bishop's Cleeve, GL52 8LU
15th February 2015


Morning session.
Chair: Steve Sutcliffe 

10.30am          Arrive: tea/coffee and cake

11.00am          Welcome, admin, announcements      Renate Thome

11.05am          Update from the Trust                          Sarah Kessell CEO

11.15am          The Skomer Year                                 Skomer Assistant Warden, Jason

11.45am          The Skokholm Year                             Skokholm Wardens, Richard & Giselle

12.15am          TBA

12.45pm          LUNCH -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1:45pm            Raffle

1.55pm            Annual General Meeting

Afternoon session.
Chair: Holly Kirk

2.10pm                        Manx shearwater Navigation                Ollie Padget – Oxford University
2.40pm                        Guillemot Social Behaviour                Elspeth Kenny - Sheffield University
3.00pm                        The Archives Project                          Steve Sutcliffe & Carol Collins

3.20pm                        Wildlife of the British Isle                     AV talk TBC

3.50pm                        Summing up                                        Tim Healing

4.00pm                        Tea/coffee and cakes

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Booking form for the Friends of Skokholm & Skomer Annual Reunion
Year 31
Sunday 15th February 2015

Name: …………………………………………………………………………………………………

Email: …………………………………………………………………………………………………

Tel no: …………………………………………………………………………………………………

Cost £ 18 per person payable to:  ‘The Friends of Skokholm and Skomer’
Acknowledgment of booking will be by email or please send a SAE for a receipt
Please return form to:
Carol Collins, Church End, 61 Main Street Kinoulton Nottinghamshire NG12 3EL

Tel 01949 81798 (looks short but is correct) Email: carol.w.collins@talk21.com

Monday, 12 January 2015

Voluntary research assistantship in seabird behaviour & ecology Skomer Island & University of Oxford

Oxford University is advertising for a Voluntary Research Assistant for the 2015 season:

We are looking for an enthusiastic, hardworking young biologist to work as a voluntary Research Assistant to help with our pelagic seabird research on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, in Spring and Summer 2015. The work will involve several research projects coordinated by Prof Tim Guilford at Oxford’s Department of Zoology (see the OxNav website). We utilise state-of-the art tracking technologies (miniature GPS, geolocators, time-depth recorders & on-board video) on several species (Manx Shearwaters, Atlantic Puffins, Common Guillemots, Razorbills). Most work will involve assisting doctoral students with the day-to-day maintenance of the study burrows, weighing and monitoring breeding birds and their chicks, and the deployment and retrieval/downloading of tracking devices. It will also involve entering data collected in the field into appropriate databases. There will be a significant amount of nocturnal work, since the primary study species is the Manx Shearwater, which only arrives at the colony after dark. There will also be scope for involvement in other conservation and ecological projects on the island, which is a National Nature Reserve administered by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Long-term Volunteer Positions

Long-term Volunteer Catherine monitoring Guillemots
We are looking for four motivated people to volunteer for three months each on Skomer Island. They will help with the day to day running of the island and assist the field worker and wardens with wildlife monitoring and visitor engagement.

Long-term Volunteer Sophia transporting luggage

Two people will be required from 15 April to 15 July 2015 and another two people from 15 July to 30 September 2015. Accommodation will be provided as will boat travel to and from the island. Successful applicants will be expected to provide their own food.


Please note applicants must be happy to spend long periods on the island without visiting the mainland. Applicants should apply by 15 January 2015.

For more information and application form visit our homepage

Long-term Volunteer Megan helping with Shearwater research
Long-term Volunteer Holly conducting a Puffin study

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Wildlife Conspiracy

Yesterday we moved off Skomer for the winter. We were looking forward to getting off, to seeing friends, having a change of scenery and generally taking a break. But of course we were also sad to leave and it seemed that the wildlife was trying its best to convince us to stay.

On Tuesday another adorable seal pup was born on South Haven beach and it really wanted to be monitored, so its sad that we won't follow its progress.

The rabbits had never been cuter…


…and even the voles joined in the conspiracy to entice us to stay: One came out from under a sheet of corrugated iron and was nibbling on plants in such a charming way that we nearly forgot to finish tidying up around the house.


And then of course there was Jack, our semi-tame Jackdaw who didn’t want us to leave. He had been absent for nearly a month but two weeks ago he turned up again, strutting around on our balcony, demanding food with a sorrowful “fud” noise. But beware, once you had fed him he would eye the food suspiciously and if it wasn’t to his liking (he did not eat pumpkin seeds for example) he would look at you in a very reproachful way.


Our North Haven pup together with its mum was patrolling the area around the slip to raise alarm in case we tried to sneak off in our boat…

…and two Robins had taken residence inside the hostel and tried to prevent us shutting the windows and locking up.

However when all of these attempts to ensnare us on Skomer had failed the wildlife cranked it up a notch: They sent in their bravest agent to highjack our boat.


None the less we made it safely to the mainland and are now going to spend some time writing reports and organising next season before we are off on “holiday” (we are joining a Wader ringing expedition) to Australia in February next year.

(Skomer Warden)

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Sunny Evening

Sunny spells have been a rare treat in the last two months but this week we had several nice evenings. On one of these I went to the Amos and to the Wick to check for seal pups. I didn't find the pup at the Amos, maybe it was hiding, but I was greeted by a great number of Fulmars. This year we had 41 pairs of Fulmars breeding in the Basin (opposite the Amos) and they always seem to enjoy soaring around the cliffs, but on that evening they appeared to be more playful and adventurous than I had ever experienced. I was sitting on the cliff edge and the Fulmars were flying really close infront of me, above me and below me - some came shooting down from behind so that I ducked because I thought they would land on my head. I think they were just as curious as I was and wanted to have a good look at me.

These Fulmar pictures were taken without any zoom!
I could have tickled its belly if I had wanted to :-)
The Wick at sunset at 16.00h - Long nights
Whilst I had fun with the Fulmars, Ed had gone onto the Neck to check these beaches for seal pups. At Castle Bay he came across a female which had just given birth. The afterbirth was lying next to her and of course it had attracted gulls. Although the gulls were not interested in her pup they seemed to annoy the female enormously. It was rather funny to watch her chase off the birds.

Look at these teeth and then you know why one should never come between a mother and her pup

(Skomer Warden)

Monday, 10 November 2014

Spot the bird competition

Here are the answers to the spot the bird (and seal) competition:

The first is one of what have been called the 'striped sprites'. This Yellow-browed Warbler comes from the Siberian Taiga and has six stripes - two wing bars on each wing and a stripe above each eye. A Pallas's Warbler has all of these plus a stripe along its crown. As well as looking pretty cool these stripes break up the outline of the bird and provide it with the perfect camouflage for life in the forest.
Yellow-browed Warbler
Next is a Peregrine Falcon which is hidden by the shear number of its prey. The chances of a starling being taken by a bird of prey from a flock of 10 are 10% and only 1% from a flock of 100. So each bird in this flock of roughly 600 has only 0.17% chance of being taken by the Peregrine. No sweat!
Peregrine falcon, the fastest animal in the world can still only take one bird at a time, although there were three Peregrines hunting starlings that morning!! What are there chances now?
Last one and probably the hardest of them all. These two little seals are almost completely lost on this boulder beach. Our Grey Seals give birth to a single white coated pup in autumn. After three weeks of suckling on some very fat rich milk the white coat is moulted off and they are weaned. Their first adult coat is much better camouflage and makes our job of studying the seals much harder.
Two little fat weaners on South Haven beach