Wednesday 27 May 2009

Chick, chick, chickies..!

It's time for a bit of a catch up as we have all been run of our feet for the last week or so there hasn't been time to update the blog. Lots has been happening this week, both with visitors and with the birds so here's a bit of a run down....................

Tuesday 26th

The first Guillemot chick was seen today at the Amos. The Guillemots are particularly early this year (all the seabirds are a bit early), the first egg was seen on April 24th which is the earliest record ever for the island. Shouldn't be long before the Razorbill start hatching too.

Today we had a film crew filming Puffins for a documentary on the Seasons, the filming from Skomer will be in the Spring episode. Despite very windy conditions they got some good footage of the Puffins at the Wick and interviewed Dave M about the Puffins, their breeding season and how we count them.

Lots of Puffins bringing in beakfulls of fish for their newly hatched chicks now, this is a very encouraging sign that the Sand eel population around here is still healthy, we hope that this continues. It is still quite early for so many eggs to be hatching, normally we expect to see a few 'puffins-with-fish' in late May and then the majority start in very early June. This year it looks as though the Puffins, along with the other seabirds, are breeding a bit earlier.

Monday 25th

Bank holiday Monday dawned bright and sunny and we had a full complement of 300 visitors on the island.

Sunday 24th

Another bright sunny day with lots of visitors enjoying the island and in particular the Puffins. In the evening the Wardens took a group from the Pembrokeshire bird ringers over to Middleholm island to ring Shag chicks, they found 55 nests and rung about 70 chicks - although some chicks had already fledged and others were still too small to ring. Well done to the ringing volunteers who braved dive-bombing Gulls and projectile-pooing Shags! A fabulous evening for it, calm seas and the sun just dipped below the horizon as we cruised back home to Skomer.

The first Puffins with fish were seen today, taking them down their burrows to feed their newly hatched chicks. This is the first indication that the eggs have hatched and is just a day earlier than the first 'Puffin-with-fish' last year.

Saturday 23rd

Pleasant sunshine and a bank holiday weekend meant that the island was very busy with a full complement of day visitors. North Haven was a popular spot for people to moor up their boats and at times we had fifteen boats moored up enjoying the views and the rafts of Puffins on the water. Several people from yachts and motor boats came ashore for a stroll around the island.

Filming continued for an edition of 'Coast' and Miranda and Jo spent the evening in the water snorkelling with the Puffins, a very chilly but enjoyable way to spend an evening. The film crew left at 8pm after a long but successful two days filming on the island.

One of the volunteers that left us today had a nice treat before he left, he spotted two Spoonbills flying over North Valley and even managed to get a shot of them. The volunteers headed down to Moorey Mere to see if the Spoonbills landed but they weren't seen again. This is the 8th record of Spoonbill on the island and is the first since 2003 (also seen in late May).

Friday 22nd

A very wet, drizzly day but still lots of intrepid people braved the elements to visit the island and were rewarded with huge numbers of Puffins. They are often around in bigger numbers on the really grotty days. A film crew arrived to film a piece for 'Coast' to be broadcast next year. Filming during the day was hampered by the rain and wind. They filmed Manx Shearwaters at night as well as using the footage from the infra-red cameras we have down two Shearwater burrows (go to our website to see the live images).

A gas engineer also visited and installed a shiny new grill in the researchers accommodation and a new fridge/freezer in the visitors accommodation.

Jo Milborrow
Skomer Warden

Sunday 24 May 2009

Laughing gull........

Adult summer plummage Laughing Gull seen flying over Shearing Hays on May 21st but has not been seen since. This is a first for Skomer so is very exciting. Unfortunately only two researchers got to see the bird, but even this was pretty special.

The staff and volunteers put in a long day counting Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the 21st. This was the first dry, gale-free day since the island was closed to allow us to carry out these counts. Each year the island is closed to visitors for three days in mid/late May so that we can carry out a count of all the Gulls that breed here. We have to do this is in warm, still conditions so that the birds' eggs don't get chilled. Typically this year we had rain, rain, rain and gales so have had to cram all the counting into a couple of very long days. The staff were helped by nine volunteers who worked very hard to help us get all this done. In the next week or so i will do all the number crunching that will give us population estimates.

Gull counting in progress

Jo Milborrow

Skomer Warden

Saturday 16 May 2009

Sunshine through Bluebells........

Welcome to the new Skomer Island blog

We plan to update this weekly and hope to have input from all sorts of people that stay on the island to give a complete view of life on the island. We will include news on what we've been up to on the island, how the breeding seabirds are doing and what migrant birds have been seen. For more details of the birds and wildlife check out the monthly reports at......

A busy and varied May week. The weather has been unpredictable (predictabley!) with some spells of watery spring sunshine, some quick wind driven showers, some thick fog patches and lots of wind. This mixed bag of weather has bought in some good birds on some days. Lots of Spotted Flycatchers, a Cuckoo, Lesser Whitethroat and a Golden Oriole were the highlights. Mike managed to get a record shot of the Oriole.

Golden Oriole, M. Wallen

This week a lot of time was put into counting Gulls, Mike W counted Lesser Black, Tessa mapped Greater Blacks and Jo Herrings. Some of the Herring counts were done from Kayak, which was challenging in choppy conditions!

Our six volunteers this week have been merrily helping day visitors, particularly at the Wick using the new telescope to show them great views of the Razorbils, Guillemots and Kittiwakes.
First Greater Black chicks this week and Kittiwakes are incubating. A puffin count late in the week estimated 13508 Puffins.

The bluebells have been at their peak this week and looked stunning in North Valley with the low spring sunshine shining through them. There is a gale blowing at the moment which sadly is going to ruin them.

Jo Milborrow
Skomer Warden