Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Skokholm, Helicopters and Researchers

As it was sunny and calm on Monday we decided it would be a good day to get across to Skokholm. Partly to scrub a load of seaweed and algae off the jetty so we'll be able to land a work party there next month, partly to see what was going on there bird-wise and partly to allow new staff Amy and Jonathan to see the place.

Despite the sun there was much evidence of how wet it has been the last few weeks as full streams and muddy slopes made the cliff edges a little more perilous than usual. There was plenty of bird life from late-nesting Ravens to migrant Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcap as well as the sixteen White Fronted Geese that have been moving around this part of Pembrokeshire for a few months now.

As we topped the rise near the lighthouse we watched a low flying helicopter with growing interest as we realised it was coming in to land right in front of us. Two Trinity House employees unloaded and as they went to open the lighthouse we went to introduce ourselves; I think we were all equally surprised to see other people on a supposedly closed and deserted island.

"Can we go up the lighthouse?" Amy unashamedly asked. They kindly agreed and while they sorted out the power we excitedly climbed the spiral staircase, having been told 'don't touch any moving parts'. The view from the top was great, not just of the island and the surroundings but of the light itself. We're grateful to the good-natured employees of Trinity House for the opportunity.

Charlotte, Amy, Jonathan and Jerry play at being lighthouse keepers.

On our return to Skomer we picked up Julia, our new Field Assistant, and a new Guillemot researcher, Katherine arrived on the boat yesterday. As the tide came in and the wind swung round to the north yesterday the sea got quite choppy on our jetty and through Jack Sound. It looked like our departing day visitors had an exciting journey back. Unfortunately, northerly winds bring the waves crashing right onto our jetty so we've not been able to land any visitors today. A shame when it's otherwise so nice but I don't think it'll last long.

The last few days on Skomer have seen a build up in the number of small warblers, decent passage of Swallows, Sand and House Martins and a few Hen Harriers hanging around North Valley. Peacock butterflies are being seen regularly as are over 100 seals hanging around North Haven. One of our volunteers spotted an Emporer moth while yesterday I was distracted in the middle of one introductory talk by a Sand Lizard appearing behind the island map.

Jerry Gillham.
Assistant Warden for Skomer and Skokholm.

1 comment:

  1. If you've seen a sand lizard on Skomer, I'd like to know who put it there! Description and photograph please.

    The only lizards in Pembrokeshire are common lizards. Although sand lizards were introduced to a couple of places in the 1980s, they don't appear to have thrived and there have been no confirmed sightings since then.

    Annie Haycock
    County mammal and herptile recorder

    PS we thoroughly enjoyed our day in the lovely Skomer sunshine on Sunday.