Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Skomer wins Britain’s Favourite Nature Reserve

It’s official, Skomer has won Britain’s Favourite Nature Reserve, as voted for by you!

First of all we’d like to say a big thank you to all of those who voted for us. Last year’s competition received over 25,000 votes and this year we received some stiff competition from some incredible nature reserves around the UK.

Upon hearing about the award, Skomer Warden Eddie Stubbings said “Skomer is one of the best sites for wildlife in Britain. It also offers a completely unique and well balanced experience for those wishing to come and visit the island. The fact that it has been voted Britain’s Favourite Nature Reserve is a testament to the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, its volunteers and all the people who visit each year”  

Conservation manager for the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, Dr Lizzie Wilberforce, also added “Skomer is internationally important for its seabird populations, and without a doubt it is the best place to see seabirds in southern Britain.”

 Skomer is home to around 23,000 Guillemots in peak season amongst many tens of thousands of other seabirds.
Around 200 seal pups are born on Skomer’s beaches in autumn each year.

Leighton Newman, Skomer Visitor Officer, said “Skomer’s wildlife isn’t the only thing that is special, it’s also the people that visit and volunteer on the island. We are incredibly happy to have been voted Britain’s Favourite Nature Reserve by the public, and I’m sure that includes many thousands of the people that visit Skomer each year and leave with a smile on their face.”

We are delighted that Skomer has won Britain’s Favourite Nature Reserve and we hope to see lots of familiar and new faces on Skomer this year. Skomer opens to the public on 25th March, not long now!  

Book your stay on Britain’s Favourite Nature Reserve on 01239 621600 or to find out more information log onto

Monday, 21 December 2015

Become a Long Term Volunteer on Skomer Island!

Each year, Long Term Volunteers (LTVs) become an integral part of the Skomer Island team, and running the island without volunteers would be almost impossible. Volunteers get involved in all tasks, from visitor engagement to species monitoring, and it is a role which is incredibly rewarding.  For a little more information on what volunteers will get up to in each post then please read on. To find an application form and full advert please head to our website (link at the bottom of this blog).

1st April – 15th July

Two LTV positions available.

The first stint of the season is an exciting one as seabirds return to start breeding for another year. Volunteers help out with seabird monitoring and breeding bird surveys of the island nesting birds. As the stint progresses, LTVs will be helping out with gull nest counts, seabird counts (from land and sea) and the Manx shearwater census. There will also be a large proportion of visitor work, with LTVs giving welcome talks both at the landing area and up at the hostel for overnight guests as well as regular engagement around the island. 
Volunteers will also be expected to get involved with various events that we run throughout the season, from bird watching weekends to guided walks.

15th July – 30th September

Two LTV positions available

As the cliff nesting birds depart at the end of July, attention turns to Manx shearwaters and seals as the Autumn draws closer. Skomer is home to a large seal colony and around 200 pups are born each year, with pupping starting in August and reaching its peak at the end of September. Regular seal rounds are set up to monitor the progress of each and every pup born on Skomer, and LTVs will help to carry these out. As the season starts to quieten down the attention turns to the more practical side of island running, from path maintenance to carrying out any repairs to infrastructure on the island.

There will still be a good amount of visitor work to be fulfilled, with LTVs giving welcome talks both at the landing area and up at the hostel for overnight guests as well as regular engagement around the island. LTVs also help out with various events such as August family activities and Shearwater week. 
Staff and Long Term Volunteers carry out the Manx shearwater census.

Seabird Monitoring Volunteer

June is the busiest time on Skomer, not just for visitors but also for seabirds. Skomer is home to around 23,000 guillemots, 21,000 puffins, 7,000 razorbills and 316,000 pairs of Manx shearwaters, not to mention other species such as fulmar, shags and cormorants.
We have one placement running from 25th May until 30th June to help out with the large range of seabird monitoring that happens on Skomer. Gull nest counts start from the end of May and seabird monitoring starts in June as we count every seabird that nests on Skomer’s cliffs, from land and from boat. We also carry out a Manx shearwater plot census using playback, which the volunteers will be heavily involved in.

The full job advert and person specification is on our website but for this position we need someone who is fully comfortable spending long periods of time on a small boat in potentially unfavourable sea conditions and enjoys working outdoors in all weathers.

Staff and volunteers counting seabirds from the boat during June. 

Extra information
Long Term Volunteers are also expected to undertake a project whilst on the island, whether it be on vegetation, insect life or bird life, the choice is wide and ranging and we are eager to hear about projects on species that are yet to be studied in detail.

All posts give a real chance to gain an insight into living and working on an Island and National Nature Reserve. The role is varied and one day is never the same as the next.

Whether it is during the summer of your university course or as a stepping stone to your future career in conservation, we want to hear from everyone who thinks they have what it takes to be a member of the Skomer Island team.

More information can be found at:

Thank you for our interest and we look forward to hearing from you! 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Skomer Island, Britain's favourite Nature Reserve? You decide

Vote for us! Voting is now open in LandLove Magazines awards, and Skomer has been nominated for Britain's favourite Nature Reserve! Maybe it's the cliffs covered with seabirds, fields covered in bluebells or the charismatic puffins that are your favourite part about Skomer, or there’s something else that sticks in your memory. Here are a few photos of Skomer to show how spectacular it is!

Bluebells in spring. From early April the bluebells start to show through and peak flowering is around mid-May, giving a spectacular display, carpeting the island blue.

Skomer from the air. Crown copyright (2015) Visit Wales.  A rarely seen view of Skomer, it hints at the bluebell show in spring and shows the vast patches of pink campion that flowers just as the bluebells die back.

Guillemots, razorbills and fulmars line the cliffs and puffins line the cliff tops from April until the end of July.

Manx shearwater chick. Anyone who has stayed during Shearwater Week in late August and early September will never forget seeing these chicks for the first time.

Seal Pups in autumn. August onwards is the best time to see seal pups, and September is the peak, with seals pupping on the beach just below the landing point!

We hope that these pictures jog your memory this winter of how spectacular Skomer is and why it is your favourite Nature Reserve.

Voting can be done through:

Thank you! 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Become part of the Skomer Island team: Long-term Voluneers wanted

Transporting luggage

Long-term Volunteer

We have four Long-term Volunteer positions available, two of which run from 1st April until 15th July 2016 and two of which run from 15th July until 30th September 2016.

Painting signs for thePuffin study

The Long-term Volunteers will become an integral part of the island team and will be involved in all aspects of the running of the National Nature Reserve.

Giving intro talks
They will be welcoming overnight guests and giving welcome talks to day visitors, conducting various species surveys (including seabird monitoring and seal monitoring in the appropriate seasons), helping to keep the visitor accommodation clean, carrying out general maintenance all over the island and undertaking their own research project whilst on the island.

Cleaning and abseiling to mark seal pups - all in a day's work

Seabird Monitoring Volunteer
Lunch beak during the seabird counts
This position runs from 25th May until 30th June 2016. This is a fantastic opportunity to volunteer on one of Britain’s most important seabird colonies. Skomer has around 23,000 Guillemots, 7,000 Razorbills and 21,000 Puffins. And that’s not to mention the world’s largest colony of Manx Shearwaters, around 316,000 pairs!

This volunteering position will be to help out with our busiest period of the year, which includes helping out with gull nest counts, seabird counts from land and boat and the Manx Shearwater census.

For more information and application forms click here

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Ta-ra for now

The last island inhabitants have now moved back to the mainland so the island and it's wildlife get a break and we look forward to seeing it again next year. As most of us will be taking a well earned break over the next three months blog posts will be less frequent. We will, however, still use the blog to advertise Long Term Volunteer positions and other things will turn up from time to time so do keep an eye out.

When we left the island, only a few days ago, the Fulmars were returning from their 'honeymoons' and Guillemots, Razorbills and Kittiwakes could be seen around the island once more. The seals were approaching the end of the pupping season and many were starting to moult. By the time the island opens again next Easter the Puffins will be back and a few spring flowers should be just showing there heads.

It has been a wonderful season on Skomer again and we would like to thank everyone who help make it so.

So thanks again and ta-ra till next season.

Nadoli Llawen

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

See Ed and Bee having a Barney

The winter is finally here, not in temperature but definitely in terms of wind and storms. Ed and I are keeping an hourly eye on windguru these days. The end of our time on Skomer is approaching fast (or is it?) and we were hoping to get off on the weekend or early next week. So far it doesn’t look good.

We are still monitoring the seals every day, the haul-out counts are increasing but the births are going down, however today we had another one born on Driftwood Bay. Its mum has chosen the best beach on Skomer: Driftwood Bay is basically a cove in South Haven facing North-West and it is completely sheltered from all wind directions. Northerlies get held off by the Isthmus, Southerlies by the Neck. If I were a seal I would definitely choose Driftwood Bay to give birth.

Newest pup with mum and a Great Black-backed Gull feasting on the afterbirth

Ed heroically finished the first stage of our new Sales Point project. Not even hurricane Barney could stop Ed drilling, sawing, measuring and swinging his level about. The new Sales Point will be able to resist even the strongest storms and we believe it will still be standing in 100 years’ time (whether the new wardens like it or not :-). In order to get the posts in we were hammering and chiselling like dwarfs for days; we had to kneel in the muck, lean headlong into a foot deep hole and pick away at the bed-rock.

Sales Point or swimming pool - that is the question. Will the concrete set in so much water?

Building the new Sales Point with the sea roaring in the background

And finally today: the finished frame
We have finished the winter preparations and are now waiting for good weather, the seals of course still keep us entertained and company like these two who were lying around on the slip. The bigger one has got hiccups :-)

And even though the strong winds are a bit annoying I was rather awed when I watched the enormous waves crashing against Skokholm in the distance – some were so large, they reached all the way to the top of the cliff. Here is a little clip of the Mew Stone getting hammered. 

(Skomer Warden)

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

No end to seals and no end to gale force winds

October was a real treat: sunny, warm and calm but it seems that November is trying to make up for it by being very uncomfortable. We have had gale force winds for nearly two weeks and if we are honest it is getting a bit on our nerves. 

Windguru hasn't got good news for us

Seal monitoring becomes a real challenge when your paper and your cheeks rattle in the wind, your bins get rained on and then splashed by sea spray, your notebook turns into papier-mâché, your eyes water from the gusts and your whole body sways as if drunk.

Don’t go too close the edge is the motto!

The seal mums also have a much harder job looking after their pups and the pup survival rate has dropped since the start of the bad weather: one day there are five pups on the beach and the next day it’s deserted. 

One of our pups has been swept all the way to Ramsey and to our delight and astonishment its mum was able to follow it. Have a read of Ramsey’s exciting blog about our adventurous pup 193.

New born pup 193 with mum on North Haven beach on the 22nd October

Last Saturday we had a four hour respite of the gale force winds and Leighton made the best of the weather window and left the island for the winter. When we woke up in the morning the sea was lead grey, the swell threw white frothing waves onto the beach and foam was flying past the house – we never ever imagined that two hours later we would be going over to Martin’s Haven in sunshine and calm seas.

Since then Ed and myself have been alone on the island… well not really alone, today we shared the island with 265 seals – the haul-outs are building as more and more immature seals and moulting seals rest on the beaches at low tide.

The seals are congregating on the sheltered beaches

And still new pups are getting born, this pup was born today on North Haven beach, it's mum was keen to get it to suckle but I think it didn't quite know what to do...

...but eventually it got the hang of it.

(Skomer Warden)