Sunday, 2 August 2015

Island Adventure


we are Anabel (12 years old) and Annika (13 years old). We come from Germany from the Lake Constance. Bee (Birgitta) is Anabel’s aunt and she is the warden on Skomer. We will stay 10 days on Skomer Island and we want to tell you about our experiences, so we will write a diary. 

First day:
On the first day we walked from North Haven to Garland Stone. We saw lots of gulls and seals. Then we helped Bee, with the visitors. We showed them the way from the boat to the top of the cliff. After lunch we explored the beach and we found:

-a long, thin fish, maybe a young eel
-snails (Winkles, Limpets & CO)
-Algae (Kelp, Furbelows & CO)
-a Grey seal

On the water and on land we saw a lot of Puffins…

In the evening we wanted to cook for Bee, but the researchers next door were weighing the Manx Shearwater chicks, so we helped them (so Bee had to finish cooking :-). 

At 9:30pm we walked to Tom’s House to ring the Storm Petrels. We had to climb down the cliff to the net and we were allowed to let the birds go.

So that was our first day, it was exciting and really amazing. 

Annika left and Anabel right

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Keeping warm

As some of our regular guest might know: Skomer can get rather chilly, especially in spring and autumn.

But don't worry: from now onwards no one will get cold feet anymore thanks to 38 ladies from the
Mathry/Cemaes Crochet Group who donated lots of amazing hand made blankets to Skomer. These blankets now brighten up our hostel bedrooms and work their magic against chilly bones.

One of the hostel rooms with the brand new blankets

A MASSIVE THANK YOU goes to all the lovely ladies who spent their spare time making these amazing pieces of art.

Some of the ladies who made the blankets (and me in the middle -even though I don't know how to crochet)

Speaking of the hostel: Why not come and stay on Skomer, there is lots to see in late summer and early autumn. The Shearwaters are at their best in August and September. The nights are filled with their sounds as parents come in to feed their chicks and the little come out of their burrows to exercise their wings. For a taster have a look at this video clip.

We also get large flocks of Ravens visiting in autumn which are a joy to watch when they do their aerial acrobatics and of course the seal pupping season will begin soon.

Playing Raven (photo E Stubbings)

If you are interested in staying have a look at our homepage, we still have availability and in August we offer special overnight stays for families with activities for children.

We are looking forward to meeting you!

Manx Shearwater chick weighing

Manx Shearwater chicks are the cutest!

(Skomer Warden)

Monday, 20 July 2015

Kraken part 2

Many volunteers and visitors ask us how Kranken is doing so I thought I should give you an update. Kraken now lives most of the time in my vegetable garden which is fenced in due to the rabbits. To my slight dismay, Ed dug a pond in one of the corners of my garden (a few potatoes had to be harvested to make room). Kraken now loves swimming in his pond and eating all the snails in my garden which is fine by me!!
Kranken in the garden

Kraken also has taken up yoga, streching his fast growing wings and exercising his legs.
Duck work out

Kranken is just amazing to watch and we were all astonished when he dived to the bottom of our water butt.
Kraken having a rest on my hand

And of course Kraken is still a star at bird log 

He just loves being in the centre of attention and...

 is a real Skomer fan..

Now that he is growing bigger and bigger we had to swap his indoor Tupper ware swimming pool for a large plastic box.

"Hello, I am Kraken, a Shoveler Duck as you can see!"
(Skomer Warden)

Friday, 17 July 2015

Fulmar, Blue Whale, Puffin and Iberian Lynx

What do these four animals have in common?, they don't all live on Skomer, they are not all birds

...yes, they are all on the European Red List of Endagered Species

The European Red List (ERL) is a review of the status of European species according to IUCN Regional Red Listing guidelines. It identifies those species that are threatened with extinction at the European level (pan-Europe and the European Union), so that appropriate conservation action can be taken to improve their status.

In June 2015 the European Red List of Birds was published and to our dismay nine bird species which breed on Skomer feature in this report:

Fulmar and... 
P. Reufsteck

Puffin are considered "endangered of extinction"
P. Reufsteck

P. Reufsteck

Black-legged Kittiwake, 

P Reufsteck


P. Reufsteck

 Oystercatcher and
E. Stubbings

Curlew are in the category "vulnerable"
P. Reufsteck

Herring Gull, 
P. Reufsteck

Meadow Pipit and 
P. Reufsteck

Razorbill are considered "near threatened"
P Reufsteck

Shag is in the category of "least concern"
P Reufsteck

So next time you are on Skomer, have a close look at these birds and cherish every single one, who knows how long they will be around to enrich our lives.

And remember to take part in the public consultation before the 26th of July to save Europe's Nature laws. 

(Skomer Warden)

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Protecting the Laws that Protect Nature

You have less than two weeks left to speak up for nature in Britain and Europe and to save Europe's nature laws.

The European Commission are asking the people of Europe what they think about the Nature Directives which are the laws that protect birds, animals and special places. These laws are at stake so make your voice heard and help us to help nature: Add your name to the online consultation here.

The  campaign has over 350,000 signatures already but we want to reach 500,000 by July 26. It takes just two minutes and really will make a difference.

Skomer and Skokholm Islands are designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and  Special Protection Area (SPA) and it would be a real set back if these amazing places lost some of their protection.

Worth protecting?!

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Skomer's breeding land-birds 2015

While the spectacular Skomer seabirds take much of our efforts (and also much of the limelight!) during the summer, our breeding landbirds are also extremely busy at this time, and as wardens we keenly monitor and observe the activity of the species which make Skomer their home.

Key species to mention on the reserve, and which require extra special attention due to their UK and local conservation status are our Peregrines, Choughs, Curlews and Short-eared Owls. All have again bred on the island, with three pairs of Peregrines, four (and perhaps five) Chough territories (up from three in 2014), three Curlew territories and two pairs of nesting Short-eared Owls (down from three pairs in 2014). We aren't quite far enough into the season to give a final assessment of productivity of these birds, but so far we have confirmed one fledged Chough from a nest in the Lantern followed by two chicks at North Haven, a minimum of three fledged Short-eared Owls (from a brood of six young) and there is currently at least one large Curlew chick running around in the bracken near the farm which has just fledged. Finally the Protheroe's Dock Peregrines have fledged a female chick, while we are still waiting on the other territories on the island.

Jeronimo! A juvenile Chough takes to the wing 
Chick with parents. A family of two chicks seen in North Haven seen shortly after may have been from another nest...

In other owl-related news, the resident Little Owls have had another successful year, fledging all of their brood of four chicks.

Adult Little Owl standing guard

One of the fledged young Little Owls

Further notable species known to have bred this year include at least 2 pairs of Shelduck, a pair of Shoveler (see Kracken blog...), one pair of Stonechats and at least one pair of Linnets (breeding for the first time since 2009). Many of our usual breeding species (Meadow and Rock Pipits, Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats) appear to be having a fairly late season, perhaps due to a particularly wet spell earlier in the spring. Hopefully their second brood will be more successful!