The winters are getting shorter. Certainly, that’s how it seems – as we returned to Skomer last Tuesday, it didn’t seem like three months since we had left.
After the usual fortnight of constantly refreshing the weather forecast, we took advantage of the first apparent window, boarding Wave Dancer at Neyland on Tuesday morning.
|Loading the Wave Dancer
|Everything but the kitchen sink!
We enjoyed… or endured… a rather choppy and very wet voyage to the island. Accompanied out of the haven by common dolphins, we made it around St Ann’s Head in sheeting rain and an unpleasant degree of swell. More than one of us went green about the gills and one wayward jar of mango chutney was nearly lost to us forever.
|A dreich journey
|Soggy but unfazed
|Skomer in sight!
boxes – the bags – the tins of paint – the guttering – the brewery kit – the books
– the cartons of milk – the tarpaulins – the fuel cans – and, of course, the
baked beans. Those 87 steps don’t get any easier… but, sustained by Crème Eggs,
and with two additional helpers, we made it to the top. Back again – fulmars
wheeling past, made curious by our presence, and seals popping their heads out
of the water to inspect the boat. There we paused a moment as Wave Dancer
departed – just us four, now, and thousands of auks on the cliffs.
|Rob loads the dumper
|The mainland's out there somewhere
become accustomed to some sort of disaster awaiting us on our return –
rockfalls, missing roof tiles, broken windows, blown off satellite dishes. It
was therefore with an air almost of disbelief that we checked first the
buildings and then the paths and cautiously pronounced that all was well. Some
mould on the internal walls – to be expected – but the island has weathered the
winter remarkably well.
we’ve mostly been settling in, setting up the buildings, carrying out
biosecurity checks, and making a start on our ever growing to-do lists.
has alternately been bathed in glorious sunshine or barraged by wind and rain –
a tumultuous start to the season. After one of the wettest Februarys on record,
Skomer is sodden – the old dam at North Valley Crossing is holding back a significant
amount of water, and paths have become streams in several places. Wellies are
|North Valley Crossing
cold and the wet, it is beginning to feel like spring – daffodils are blooming in
bright patches amongst the bracken, chough and shags are nest building, and
ravens are already incubating at the Wick.
|Guillemots on the cliffs at South Stream
|A classic March view
|A glorious Sunday
Oh, and this
morning Leighton spotted our first puffin of the year! We haven’t seen or heard
the Manxies yet, but it won’t be long.
next few weeks, we’ll be cleaning and painting the accommodation, improving the
paths, carrying out monitoring of the island's early breeding species, putting the finishing
touches on last year’s reports, and preparing to welcome our first visitors of
the year on 29th March. Not long now!
to be back.
- – Ceris, Assistant Warden
|North Pond with looming rain
|Garland Stone in the sunshine