Wednesday, 22 March 2017

9 days and counting

The time has flown: only 9 days to opening. Slowly but surely we are getting a little bit nervous... Are we going to have everything ready? Are all signs up, the rope at the Wick in place, the landing steps scrubbed and algae free...?

As you can imagine we have been very busy since we got over on the 6th. We haven't really had any time off. Last Saturday Sarah and Leighton tried very hard to dodge work when they came down to North Haven library to watch the rugby - unfortunately I had the brilliant idea to get them to mend bird ringing nets whilst watching - which they did expertly.

The weather has been a bit of a challenge this March, it has been windy, cold and very wet - everything is muddy and we are really hankering for some sunshine. Yesterday we heard an enormous bang (not the firing range for once) and shortly after the heavens opened. It haled so hard that even the seals on the beach raced into the water in confusion.

Photo: S. Purdon

An hour later the sun came out, melted the hale and transformed a rather bleak looking Skomer into the colorful and radiating island so many visitors love.

The skies at this time of year are ever changing and shift hand in hand with the weather. Great photo opportunities!

On sunny days the cliffs of Skomer are full of Guillemots and Razorbills and the faithful Fulmars have been at their breeding sites since last November.

We now regularly get large rafts of Puffins sitting offshore and we have had the odd brave bird land on Skomer. We are waiting eagerly for the evening when they decide to land en masse to reclaim their burrows. Other wildlife which keeps us company are the Ravens, which are incubating eggs already and Chough, which are in the process of building nests.

Raven keeping an eye on its territory

Migrants also keep us entertained especially the stunning looking male Wheatears which are moving through.

Hope to see you soon

(Skomer Warden)

Saturday, 11 March 2017

We Made It!

After the weather windows forecast continually deteriorating and disappearing, last Sunday we saw a possible chance and took it! We scrambled to do our last fresh food shop, and first thing on Monday 6th we moved all our food and worldly possessions onto Martin’s Haven beach.

It wasn’t an ideal day for it, with rain all through the morning making everything wet from above, before we’d even got it in the boat. But, as soggy as we and everything was, we were happy to be heading out.
BFFs; Leighton and Ed

Spot the warden

It was a little splashy at times

The first trip up to the farm was a welcome site under a dramatic sky.
We are pleased to report no major damage to the buildings, so we are busy cleaning, and getting ready for volunteers and guests.

The area to the left of the house which was bare and vegetation-less all of 2016 has grown up over the winter.

Wildlife highlights

Seals, hauled out on North Haven beach
We have good numbers of seals, some of whom have been extremely curious as to what we're up to, following us in the boat, and daring each other to come closest to us up the beach. (so far, they have restrained from hijacking our boat as in previous years.)

Short eared owls, multiple hen harriers (all females) and kestrels have all been hunting around the farm almost every day, and on the cliffs the ravens are already nesting. The fulmars have been as reliably present as ever, and the auks and kittiwakes have been back on the cliffs the last few days. There have been a few puffins hanging around the island, and we spotted a few manxies out to sea. On the ponds we've had good numbers of snipe, and unusually for us we've had three wigeon and a couple of teal, and a black redstart yesterday in North Haven.

It's lovely to be back, and we're all looking forward to seeing you all this year!

Sarah (Assistant Warden)

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Zugstau - the interuption of migration due to bad weather

Usually we get a calm spell at the start of March in which to make our move out to the island. Not so this spring. Since storm Doris the weather just hasn't been calm enough for us to launch the boat, load it on the beach, make several trips back and forth and off load again on the island.

Zugstau is the German word used to describe the build up of migrants (usually birds) waiting for better weather in which to continue their migration and describes our situation perfectly. Hopefully we will get out to the island next week. However, at the moment, the forecast does not look good. So it looks like we need to watch and wait. 

A fresh breeze and brooding clouds

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Job oppertunities on Skomer

We are looking for a seasonal Assistant Warden and Fieldworker for the 2017 season. More details and application forms can be found here.

Seabird monitoring

Doing welcome talks

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Shutting down

After last weeks storm the weather has been amazing, as can be seen by the two photos below, one taken on the 21st during the storm and one taken on the 26th on an almost wind still evening.

North Haven during last weeks storm

Such a contrast to five days earlier, North Pond in evening light

Storm Angus, the first named storm of the 2016/17 winter, was pretty uncomfortable for us in the north facing Warden's house in North Haven. The water was literally being forced through the panels of our back door. But it didn't last and a few days later the weather was calm and fine.

We normally move off in the last week of November so we were looking for a nice calm spell and it came just at the right time. We came off yesterday (28th) in ideal conditions with another fine sunset at our backs.

It is difficult to summarise a season on Skomer in a few words but needless to say it was another eventful one. The wildlife highlights are too numerous to name and a visit in any month is always a pleasure with new things to see and an abundance of life that can't be seen in many other places.

Another couple of photos from this year to illustrate the contrasts and changes that occur during a year on Skomer. 

Skomer in May with fields of Bluebells and thousands of seabirds

A lonely Robin sits in a leafless tree in November
The recent sightings will not be updated now until we move back to the island next March and the home page will only be updated with important news and information.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the running of the island and everyone who visited in 2016.

Nadolig Llawen

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Job opportunity: Assistant for Wildlife Documentary

Hans-Peter was filming Grey Seals on Skomer in October and now he is looking for assistants, see below.

German Wildlife Film Production is looking for assistants for a wildlife documentary about Wales.
You should be in good physical condition and should have good knowledge of Welsh/British wildlife.

Your tasks will include supporting the film maker during filming and some research for filming possibilities/locations. The support is needed intermittently from January until July 2017 for approximately one week per assignment and you should be flexible with your time.

Experience in filmmaking is not necessary. Food, accommodation and salary will be paid.

Please send a cover letter (including telephone number) and CV to the following email-address:

Hans-Peter Kuttler

Monday, 14 November 2016

The colours of autumn

Autumn can have a real feel of decay and deterioration, like twilight, where you know it's only going to get darker and colder until the end of the day. But autumn has a charm and a beauty of its own and is an integral part of the year, the cycle which hopefully brings forth new life in the spring.

Skomer is a wonderful place to watch the turning of the year, with only nature as a force to shape and colour it.

Here is a feel for how Skomer is in autumn when the hustle bustle of summer, with all of it's avian and human visitors, feels a long way away, when solitary Hen Harriers drift over a desolate landscape and Starlings and varied 'northern' thrushes pass over head from places that are even colder and more desolate than Skomer by now.

One of the main shaping forces behind the changing colours of Skomer - the weather
The sunsets change colour
The Bracken turns a golden brown
The colour of Pheasants looks almost made for autumn
Thousands of birds fly over on autumn migration
Wildfowl gather on North Pond
Following the migrants, wintering birds of prey look for any opportunity for a meal
A Peregrine hunts a ball of Starlings
Autumn may feel like the sun is setting but don't worry, the sun will rise again on another Skomer spring in 2017