Friday, 25 September 2009

Bird-a-rama!

Exciting birds on Skomer the last few days. We've had a Cetti's Warbler which is the first one seen here since 1991 and only the sixth record for the island as well as another Wryneck. Yesterday evening a female Montagu's Harrier was seen flying over North Haven. There is a chance that that was actually a Pallid Harrier which would be even more exciting but we havn't been able to relocate the bird to get a better view. Check out the Pembrokeshire birds blog for more details and some piccies http://www.pembsbirds.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Tuesday 22nd September,

The first damp day we have seen in a couple of weeks, and it looks like any potential day visitors have thought better of it! However, the last few days on skomer have been glorious if a little quiet, with only about a dozen day visitors each day.


Those that have ventured out here have had the
opportunity to see the most exciting bird of the
year (so far). A Red Backed Shrike was spotted by
Dave Boyle in south valley and has stayed put
for a couple of days. Dave would like to point out the the photo is just a record shot and not one that he will be entering into any competitions!


Saturday, 19 September 2009

Volunteer on Skomer

A great article in the Ecologist about volunteering on Skomer.

http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/out_and_about/321767/secret_getaway_skomer_island.html

If you would like to join the island team in 2010 as a Voluntary Assistant Warden for a week then have a look at the information on our website http://www.welshwildlife.org/SkomerVolunteers_en.link

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The glorious 12th......

A fantastic few days over the weekend with glorious sunshine and light winds. This brought in a lot more birds and Saturday the 12th was a bumper day with Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Collared Dove, Tree Pippit, Yellow Wagtail, Lesser Whitethroat, Firecrest and a Pied Flycatcher. Also around in the last few days were a couple of Herons, one which roosted on Driftwood Bay (!????), a high of 387 Canada Geese on North Pond along with one Greylag Goose and the highlight of the week was another Wryneck. Again seen around the Chicken Sheds behind the Farm buildings.



Brilliant picture by D. Boyle


The sunshine has also seen lots of butterflies and some Migrant Hawker and Common Darter dragonflies.

We had a visit from Greg the Ramsey Warden who came to stay for a few days which was great but we also had to say a very sad goodbye to Jerry the Skomer/Skokholm Assistant Warden. After a brilliant five months of hard work Jerry reached the end of his seasonal contract and has had to go back to real life on the mainland :-(

The Seal pups are doing well, there have been over 45 born now and many of them have already moulted and are living an independent life.

Bookings open for accommodation and volunteer placements for next year on October 5th. So if you would like to come and stay overnight on the island or volunteer with us for a week then please have a look at the new booking information on our website http://www.welshwildlife.org/. In particular we have made important changes to the Volunteer scheme that will enable us to improve the experience our volunteers have http://www.welshwildlife.org/SkomerVolunteers_en.link


Tomorrow is the start of the Walk on the Wild Side and Lucy and Llinos have been busy training for their mammoth charity trek to raise money for Skomer and the Teifi Marshes reserve. The sponsorship is going well but they still need more support to reach their target. If you haven't yet sponsored them please go to http://www.walkonthewildside.org.uk/


They are also running a caption competition...
What's this puffin up to...?
Enter our caption competition (and please make a small donation while you're at it) and you could be the winner of a £50 Amazon voucher, perfect to get a head start on the Christmas shopping or to treat yourself to the latest gadgets. All you have to do is think of a fab caption for this pic taken by Dave Milborrow (Assistant Warden) on Skomer this year and post it on our site: www.justgiving.com/puffin


Jo is also in training (but she's a bit late!) and will be joining Lucy and Llinos on Sunday and walking the coast of St Brides Bay, from St Davids back to Skomer. You can follow their progress on their blog www.walkonthewildside.org.uk or listen out for updates on Radio Pembrokeshire. They will also be accompanied by Salty the Seal and Pertwee Puffin, who you can follow on Twitter.












Friday, 11 September 2009

A Season on Skomer

Fantastic sunshine and light winds have brought through a lot of birds in the last two days. The highlight has been two Hen Harriers, one with a tag that we hope to trace. We have had thousands of Swallows passing and lots of Sand Martins, Meadow Pipits and an influx of Spotted Flycatchers. Also a couple of Common Redstarts, Whinchat, Tree Pippit, Blackcaps, Herons, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Snipe, Goldfinches, Linnets and a Redpoll. An exciting few days.



This weekend Lockley Lodge will be hosting an exhibition of artwork and photography inspired by the island. Pop down there if you are nearby and have a look, there are some stunning pieces and if you don't have time to come over to the island then have a stroll around the Deer Park in the sunshine, there are some pups on the beaches and lots of birds passing through.

There have now been over 30 pups born here on Skomer, some of which have already moulted and are independent. There are several cute ones visible on the beaches.


Sunday, 6 September 2009

Murder....we think...

This afternoon we witnessed a very dramatic event taking place in North Haven.
The Seal pup that was born a few days ago was seen swimming up and down the coast of North Haven, looking for its Mum. It then struck out for the middle of the Bay.

What happened next stunned us all.

A bull seal came up by the pup and grabbed it by its rear flippers, then dragged it underwater for a few seconds. Both of them came back up and the pup called and struggled. The Bull got a better grip and with a vicious flick of its head was back under water and neither of them were seen again.

We are all a bit stumped and have not really heard of this kind of thing before.....was the Bull intentionally killing the pup......was he playing with it........did he think it was some food....? It is hard to say what instinct he was reacting to. This bull (called 'Marbled Bull' due to his markings) has held territory on this beach for the last two years, so there is even a chance that this was his own offspring! Sadly this pup had not been fed much and has been wandering around calling for its Mum for the last couple of days (well fed pups just tend to sleep). So perhaps this dramatic end has saved it from a slower death.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Seal pup video

This pup was born this morning on North Haven. It suckled from it's Mum a couple of hours earlier then fallen asleep and had just woken up and realised it was hungry again! Seal pups sleep a lot. This one is calling to it's Mum for more milk, scarily they can sound just like a human baby crying. The sound is very poor but you can just make out the cry of the pup over the roaring wind and surf!!


video


This video was taken from a long way away from a clifftop through a zoom telescope. I was out of sight of the mother so was in no danger of scaring her away from her pup. Please remember that pups are easily disturbed. If you want to watch them please follow these rules and go to http://www.pembrokeshiremarinecode.org.uk/ for more info.
> Never approach Seals close up
> Keep still, quiet and inconspicuous. If viewing from a cliff top keep low and don't cast a shadow onto the beach below
> Seal pups sleep a LOT! It is normal for them to lie still for hours, their mothers will come ashore every few hours to feed them. The mother may not come ashore if there are humans around so don't stay too long.

Birthdays all round.

We celebrated Jerry's (Assistant Warden) birthday this week with a big pie and sparkley-Barbie-pink cake and heart-shaped biccies....(what else would a twenty-something guy want for his birthday..?)
We also celebrated the birth of the first Seal pup on a 'viewable' beach. This pup was born on North Haven early this morning. You can see some fantastic live images of it from our web-cam http://www.welshwildlife.org/web-cameras-public_en.link. Or if you are in the area pop down to Lockley Lodge and watch the live video feed from there. Unfortunately the weather is too rough and windy for the boat to run to us today, or tomorrow. But it is looking good for the weekend.

Again a few days of atrocious weather but Dave B put in some time seawatching and was rewarded with another Balearic Shearwater on the 2nd, 3 Common Scoter on the 1st, a Guillemot on the 1st and 2nd and a Razorbill on the 2nd and a dozen Sandwich Terns on the 2nd. Also the first Merlin of the autumn on the 29th and two Reed Warblers on the 1st. For lots of info about what's been seen in the county follow the Pembrokeshire Birds blog at http://www.pembsbirds.blogspot.com/.


Dave M had a bird experience of the smelliest kind this week. The Fulmar young have been fledging and in the strong winds one had been blown back onto land where it was unable to take off again. Dave managed to grab it and hold it at arms length - their defense mechanism is to spray you with thick, stinking fish oil. This is a brilliant defense against Gulls - the oil clogs up their feathers and they soon learn to steer clear of Fulmars! This one stood up to it's unpleasant reputation and covered Dave in rancid yellow oil. Once it had been checked over for injuries and thrown safely off a cliff (the best way to get these bird airborne again!) Dave had to spend the rest of the morning scrubbing his hands...which didn't get rid of the smell! So if you visit Skomer in the next week and wander why the Assistant Warden smells faintly of rotten fish guts, please don't cast aspersions on his personal hygiene!!