Saturday, 4 July 2009

Basking in the sweet sunshine

Another beautiful day here on Skomer today, quite the contrary to yesterday! It was another bustling day with visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the Puffins at the Wick. Most were out fishing at sea in the morning, but as the day drew on they quickly returned to the relief of the day visitors! Although they quickly fly into their burrows, due to the over head gull mob which watched them closely as they returned home. The Lesser and Greater Black back Gulls often attack the Puffins in order to retrieve the precious sand eels the Puffins bring in to feed their hungry chicks. Although, the gulls only scare the puffins into dropping their meals as they return to the burrows.

Later on that day I set out to do some of my dissertation work which I am doing out here on Skomer, alongside my Volunteer duties. My research topic involves monitoring the vegetation diversity of the Rabbit exclosures compared to the outside vegetation. Rabbits are one of the main grazing animals here on Skomer they greatly effect the vegetation, although many are dying from Myxamotosis which is rife here on Skomer. I monitor the vegetation by doing a 30-40m transects line, and measuring percentage cover of different species of plants along each 1m in a 1m squared plot.

I first got the idea from this project when I volunteered on Skomer for one week 3 years ago. This was a great experience for me, and I have returned every year since and helped with a lot of research on the island which is a great way to get experience in conservation! Some of the work I helped out with is vole monitoring, Lesser Black back Gull ringing, Seal pup marking and vegetation monitoring. Anyone who is looking to work in the world of conservation should come and spend a week volunteering here on Skomer as it's a great stepping stone, and you can gain a lot of vital experience needed in this area of work. I applied for the long term placement here on Skomer as part of my scholarship, which I receive from the CCW (Countryside Council of Wales) for being a bilingual Welsh student at Aberystwyth. Through this scholarship I had to do a 5 week volunteer placement, and I thought the long term volunteer position here on Skomer would be a great experience. As the CCW own the island, and is then maintained by the Welsh Wildlife Trust, you can follow the link in order to find out more about the CCW and its involvement in the island.

Yet again, more and more of the Puffins are leaving! Sam, Tessa and Jerry saw some wonderful Puffling sights in the evening (see here). They are becoming more active and stretching their wings outside the burrows more often. If anyone is hoping to see the last of the Puffins, you had best hurry, they will be leaving soon!!

With thanks to Dr. Sam I am

Haf Leyshon

Long Term Volunteer

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