Saturday 23 October 2010

This feels like Autumn now.

Autumn sunrise on Skomer.

One of the best things about this time of year is you don't have to get up early to see the sun rise (assuming it does rise, today it was massively overcast and I got up early to watch the lightning). Similarly, the sunsets are early enough that one can fit in a walk to watch one and get back for dinner.

Sunset from Skomer Head.

With the weather as it is things are very quiet around the farm and it feels like the birds are reclaiming the place. The courtyard holds groups of blackbirds, blue and great tits, robins and house sparrows. All hopping round in front of my kitchen window. The highlight from this position has been a snow bunting feeding just outside and a barn owl hanging out round the old outside shower room.

Snow Bunting in the courtyard.

Just because it's quiet doesn't mean there's no work, on the contrary we've spent much of the last week sorting out some of the footpaths on Skomer; filling in potentially ankle-twisting holes creased by rogue rabbits and widening sections where it's on the verge of collapse. Other maintenance tasks include work on the rabbit exclosures and hides, work that often gets put off during the rest of the year when monitoring takes priority.

Dave, contemplating the only route into The Lantern (that shingle area).

Seals continue to give birth all over the place, from some of the difficult-to-reach caves to right in the middle of our landing beach.

Young seals on the beach at North Haven.

Fingers crossed for a good half-term week.

Jerry Gillham
Assistant Warden for Skokholm and Skomer

Thursday 14 October 2010

Free the Gannets

A recent excursion was made to Grassholm. Thanks to Greg/Lisa/RSPB for organising the trip.

Trip out to grassholm involed Mick Brown, a nice chap called Sean, Greg and Lisa from Ramsey, myself and Dave B. and skippered by the owners of Shearwater (A jet boat that used to be the boat that took animals out to Ramsey)

Upon arrival some birding must be had. redwing (2), raven (1), peregrine (2), oystercatcher (4), starling (20), goldcrest (6), blackbird (2), turnstone (3), blackcap (1), robin (2), song thrush (1), chiffchaff (2), GBB gull (100+), chaffinch (3), dunnock (1), skylark (1), goldfinch (1) and rock pipit (6)

The problem - Gannets make their nest out of mud, seaweed and anything else they can pick up. This includes farmer's gold (baler twine!), packaging, etc. and this can often become entangled in the legs of some birds. Our visit was to free the entangled birds for a hopeful happy ending. Some are worse than others.

Young bird post release.

Close up of a young bird.

A tight squeeze for a skilled skipper!

Thanks to all for a great day.
Chris Taylor
Skomer Warden

Monday 11 October 2010

Bobolink update.....

Dear all,

Although the Bobolink has not be seen throughout the day, it might well be hiding somewhere.

Looking good for day boats tomorrow, if anyone fancies a look (lots of looking!) then this would be a good chance.

I have decided to allow access to North Stream Valley for birders (the paths marked Research Area) for the next few days only.

A special map will be available from me after the introductory talk. Volunteer wardens will be around to help out.

Usual rules apply with regards sticking to the paths, if folk are seen flushing birds through bracken, etc. this will not look good for future birding events. So please stick to the permitted paths.

Chris Taylor
Skomer Island Warden

1st boat leaves Martin's Haven at 1000, then boats at 1100 & 1200.

ps there has also been a Dartford Warbler today, first one since 1971

Friday 8 October 2010

Bobolink on Skomer - No sailings tomorrow (likely)

A keen eyed Dave Boyle spotted a brown North American Passerine in North Stream Crossing today - called a Bobolink. I caught up with it only to catch it in flight and very briefly.

The bird has not been seen since.

For anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the migrant, this will be tricky. The strong Easterly winds have meant that no boats have landed today. It is very unlikely that boats will be running tomorrow. However an update will be given on Pembrokeshire Bird Blog tomorrow morning.

Other recent highlights
Green Sandpiper (on North Pond)
Barred Warbler
Flock of 16 House Sparrows (interesting if you live on the island!)
Lots of blue tits
Pied Flycatcher