Wednesday 29 September 2010


Wryneck. Photo by D. Boyle

This Wryneck may have hung around for a few days or we may have a new one arrived. Yesterday also saw two Firecrests turn up on the island and at least a dozen common dolphins feeding in the tidal race near the Garland Stone.

Skomer from Skokholm - looking a little browner as autumn kicks in.

Jerry Gillham.

Monday 27 September 2010

A few good days birding.

Following a few wet and windy days we've had some calm, sunny weather to enjoy. It may be getting colder and the bracken and other vegetation may be dying back but there's plenty of life around.

We've well over 50 seal pups now. The one on our landing beach whose mother has given us so much trouble (attacking the tractor as we try and launch the boat) is looking fat and starting to moult. It'll soon be independent, it's mum is already becoming more interested in the big bull seal that patrols that stretch of island - they mate soon after pupping, when all the males and females are together in the same place.
Visitors have had some great views of the seal pups on the beach feeding, learning to swim and mainly lazing around.
Elsewhere in the sea there's been some big groups of Porpoise around the west side of the island.

It has been a good few days birding too. A Wryneck around the farm was probably the highlight but it's been almost as exciting seeing an influx of common garden birds which are quite a rarity on Skomer. Great-Spotted Woodpecker, House Sparrows and Blue Tits (amazing how exotic they look when you've not seen one for seven months).

As boats didn't run for a few days over the weekend Skomer it felt very quiet. I was on my own up at the farm and it feels like nature is trying to reclaim the place. Chough have started coming back to feed in the courtyard while each morning there's been at least one Buzzard perched on the trig-point, chicken sheds or old building itself.

Jerry Gillham,
Skomer and Skokholm Assistant Warden.

Friday 17 September 2010

Youngsters leaving the island, research and Ravens

Overnight guests, volunteers and staff this week have been treated to the delights of thousands of young Manx Shearwater fledglings from their burrows. Although adult in appearance they always seem a bit puzzled by their surroundings. Many birds climb to high spots on the island to achieve extra lift on their first voyage. They will continue to fledge for the next couple of weeks.

The new sculpture has had mixed reviews by the Manxies. Some have utilised it to climb higher, other had some trouble with feet becoming trapped between the pieces of wood. As a consequence the sculpture is now no more.

Shearwaters utilising the sculture as a launch pad (picture by Jonathan Parsons). Just goes to show the amazing climbing abilities of a bird which looks so cumbersome on land.

We would like to thank Rosie Walker-Brown, an undergraduate at Oxford, who has been weighing lots and lots of young Manxies. This is to measure the fledgling weight of Manxies and comparing it against data collected by Chris Perrins in the 1960s. There is a suggestion that fledgling weights are lower than previous figures but more recent comparison study had a very small sample size. Rosie will be off the island tomorrow after weighing c.1400 birds and a lot of sleep deprivation. Results to follow when Rosie has caught up on her sleep.

The picture below shows bird number 1000.
Other happenings on the island this week. Seals continue to pup with close up views available from the landing slip in North Haven. These pups have proved difficult for island business with gas deliveries having to be made onto the landing steps in stead of straight onto the beach and into the back of the tractor - carrying full 19kg gas bottles up those steps is hard work!

Ravens are also amazing with flocks of up to 50 gathering around the updrafts of the cliffs. The true reason behind these big groups is a little unknown but there must be a lot of pair bonding going. There are also young birds learning to fly and be acrobatic. Often birds are seen picking up sticks and dropping them. Either to show off to others of maybe just for fun.

(picture by Ben Dean) Ravens doing what Ravens do!
Thanks for reading

Chris Taylor
Skomer Warden.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Volunteering on Skomer 2011, please do continue to support the Friends of the Skomer and Skokholm.

Dear all,

Firstly, Seal pups are cute and there are plenty on the Island now with good viewing spots from Captain Kites or from the Landing Stage in North Haven.

Secondly, I would like to extend a massive thanks to all those who have volunteered this year (and will be until the end of October). It has been great fun to work with all of you. All your characters keep Skomer alive, interesting, fun and sometimes just puzzling!!

So advance booking for 2011 are from:

Monday 27th September

for member of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales

Bookings for the general public start on the 11th October.

More information can be found at:

I have heard several people ask "What is the point in being a member of the Friends now?"

If you are thinking of cancelling your membership to the Friends I personally ask you to reconsider. The Friends of the Island are a fantastic organisation who put a massive amount of support directly into the Islands. The supports comes both in terms of volunteering but also financially for specific projects. This is particularly important whilst Skokholm is being renovated. Examples this year include:

lots of tools for Skokholm,

all the food for the Skokholm work parties,

laptop for the Skomer Warden among many others. They also host a fantastic reunion every February which is an excellent was of keeping upto date on the season of work on the islands. The Friends of the Island also support us morally and advise me and the rest of the Skomer/Skokholm team on the best way of managing the Islands.

Wildlife highlights:
2 Greenshank on North Pond
Lots of Willow Warblers and Spotted Flycatchers
Grey Wagtails
Lapland Bunting flying over the farm
10 Shovelar on North Pond

Thanks for reading
Chris Taylor
Skomer Warden

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Icterine Warbler and other wildlife highlights / Skokholm on the TV tomorrow

Wildlife highlights:

Icterine Warbler in the ivy above the boat shed in Nort Haven. Not been spotted for a few days. But a lot of the bushes are having willow warblers and whitethroats, etc. With these strong South Easterly winds forecast over the next few days we are not sure what might turn up, so well worth keeping your eyes on the bushes!

Other sightings:

Couple of spotted and pied flycatchers, tow green sandpipers on north pond (thanks Dave B)

Fair few seal pups have now been born around the neck area. One pup being nicely visible from Captain Kites (ask one of the wardens who greet you on the island).

Other exciting events - Myself and Jerry went over to Skokholm today to do a piece for BBC News Wales. The article was just about how things are getting on with Skokholm in a bid to raise the interest of the island. This will be shown tomorrow night (Thursday 2nd September) and is a good way of people keeping up to speed with the developments.

Lets hope for some rare birds. We shall let you know on the blog of anything turns up.

Skomer Warden