Saturday 21 August 2010

Overnight accommodation is offically nice and strange report of cookers in the Jack Sound......

Wildlife Highlights this week:
First seal pup born overnight/today (20th)
Lots of juvenile goldfinches around the farm
Greenshank on North Pond
Little Owl being seen
Manx Shearwater chicks have started to come out of their burrows and exercise wings, some of which will be ready the fledge.

Exciting news to mention to you all this week..........

the overnight accommodation has two working showers!!!!!!!

Breakthrough for us all and it should make a vast improvement to the quality of the stay. There are also low water pressure mixer units on all showers at the farm which have significantly improved the "washing experience". The water pressure is still less than the mainland - but this is an island after-all!

The overnight accommodation has also been awarded three stars by the Wales Tourist Board. All very important advertising to increase the number of overnight visitors in August and September. Feel free to plug the place to friends and family, it only cost £25 per night at this time of year and there are still thousands of Shearwaters about. It also makes bird log a lot more fun having some "outside folk".
And with a bit of tweaking (by request ), the sign becomes a lot more appropriate:

But if this were a true rating scheme it should be 5!

Other activities recently include removing scrap off to the mainland such as 4 cookers and copper piping/lead left over from the renovation project. Thanks to the volunteers for your hard work with this......helping to keep skomer beautiful.

Thanks for reading and keep in touch.
Chris Taylor
Skomer Warden

Saturday 7 August 2010

Wildlife sightings from July to August

Hello everyone,

There's been lots out and about on the reserve recently, we've said goodbye to the auks but return migration is getting under way so I'm looking forward to some interesting birds over the coming month.

Skomer Wildlife Highlights July to August 2010

Canada geese regularly seen flying over North Haven and around North Pond

Up to 6 mallard seen around North Pond

A tufted duck on the 14th July

30 common scoter on the 27th July, west past the Garland Stone

Pheasant with young all over the island

Fulmar chicks on the cliffs, starting to lose their down and growing feathers

Manx shearwaters in large rafts at sea in the evening, returning to burrows at night to feed hungry chicks

Storm petrels seen at night by the boat shed

Gannets diving for fish at Garland Stone, Mew Stone and Skomer Head

Young cormorant and shag seen from the boat and at Garland Stone

Buzzard seen regularly at Bull Hole, 1 juvenile

Groups of peregrine at Garland Stone and High Cliff, taking some young kittiwakes from the Wick

Moorhen at Moorey Mere

Oystercatcher present on the island, seen regularly

A black-tailed godwit on the 7th July

Curlew seen occasionally at the back of the Old Farm

A whimbrel on the 26th July

2 redshank on 26th July and one on the 30th

Small groups of common sandpiper at the start of August

2 juvenile Mediterranean gulls at North Haven on the 2nd August

Lesser black-backed gull, herring gull and great black-backed gull chicks fledging but still begging for food

Kittiwake young fledging from the 21st July

Guillemot and razorbill chicks fledged, adults left the island last seen on the 30th July

Occasional puffins seen on the sea around the island, the majority having left

Wood pigeons seen around the island regularly in groups of 2 or 3

Little owl and short eared owl less visible but still present on the island

Small groups of swifts passing over the island

Skylark present around the fields

Young swallows flying around the Old Farm

Meadow and rock pipit seen daily

Juvenile pied wagtails around the Old Farm, seen in the courtyard

Stonechat spotted occasionally

Wheatear still present

Blackbird, wren and dunnock around the Old Farm, South Stream and Moorey Mere

Sedge warbler and whitethroat in elder and brambles

Flocks of up to 12 willow warbler and chiffchaff

A spotted flycatcher on the 27th July

Flocks of up to 10 chough flying round North Haven

Juvenile magpie seen

Up to 35 jackdaw around the island

20 ravens congregating at Bull Hole

2 and 3 starling on 27th and 29th July

A female chaffinch on the track to the farm in mid-July

Small flocks of goldfinch and linnet including juveniles feeding on thistles at the back of the Old Farm

Reed bunting present on the island throughout July


Painted lady, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, small copper, large white, meadow brown, ringlet, grayling and dark green fritillary butterflies seen throughout July

Cinnebar, oak eggar and humming bird hawk moths seen during the day

Marine life

Grey seals basking on rocks at Garland Stone, North Haven and Pigstone Bay

Small groups of harbour porpoise seen throughout the month.

30 common dolphin on the 2nd August

A sunfish on the 4th August, seen from the Dale Princess

Compass jellyfish around Martin's Haven

What to look out for in August

Number of ducks on ponds starts to increase, particularly teal

More sightings of grey heron

Water rail present by the end of the month

More wader records as return migration gets under way. Likely species to see are golden plover, purple sandpiper, dunlin, whimbrel, green sandpiper and turnstone

Look out for tree pipit and grey wagtail

Warblers start passage, grasshopper, reed and willow warblers, also more numerous chiffchaff

Starling numbers increase throughout the month, with flocks using bushes around North Pond as an evening roost

Lots of butterflies to be seen on sunny days

Grey seal numbers increase in haul out sites on North Haven and Garland Stone. The first seal pups are usually born from mid to late August

More sightings of sunfish and common dolphin

Remember to let us know if you spot anything exciting during your visit!

Amy Corton.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Puffins are off for another winter adventure - but where to?

It is the time of year that the Puffins return to their "homeland". The place where Puffins are meant to be - out at sea. On the water their adaptions to life are more suitable. With legs far back on their bodies and short wings, life on land is tough. So being on land is purely for breeding purposes only. Therefore shortly after their chicks have fledged that is it - out to sea they go. Young puffin chicks will be out at sea learning to cope for themselves - a tough time and one which causes many casualties. Food supplies are further afield and need to be located, the day length (and time for foraging) is getting shorter. Once puffins have passed through this tough time and reached breeding age (three or four years old), chances of surviving year on year are greatly increased.

Razorbills and Guillemots have also left for the open seas - but where do they all go? It seems from preliminary results that the puffins, after breeding, are heading north (possibly as far as Iceland) then heading back down south to the north coast of Spain and some as far as the Bay of Biscay before returning to Skomer. The winter movements of all the auks is a mystery that researchers on Skomer are trying to unravel. The full results will not become clear for a few years yet.

Still plenty to see though with the fulmar chicks sitting fat, fluffy and happy on their ledges waiting to be fed. Kittiwakes almost outgrowing their muddy nesting mounds. Cetaceans are spotted daily by visitors and volunteers. Seals will soon be thinking about pupping. Ravens amassing over Bull Hole are always a gymnastic display.

Hope you have enjoyed all the auks as much as I have this year and I can't wait until next March to see them return. In the meantime - plenty to still enjoy.

Chris Taylor
Skomer Warden