This winter must have seen some harsh winters. I was inspecting the water tanks at the start of the season to find that the header tank (a 20ft by 10ft and 4ft deep tank) was completely empty. Odd I thought. Only to find a crack in the pipes leading to one of the pumps. After reusing some old parts from the plumbing equipment collected over the years we managed to fix it. This leak was caused by freezing water in the connectors/ pipes. There was also a leak down in North Haven – this was fixed with good old Duct Tape (temporary repair)!
The tractor is also in bits and awaiting a mechanic to fit a part to the axle – this is to be expected if you dip a tractor in the sea every week.
The boat has received some damage from a rockfall over winter.
The landing stage/steps all need some repairs.
2) Go birdwatching
Essential to keep your eyes peeled at this time of year, looking out for those first Wheatears (4th March this year). They have only been earlier than this date on 5 different occasions since, c.1960. On the same day first records were reported on Bardsey and Portland – so we must have been in the firing line for the migrants to return (from North Africa/Morrocco).
It is also the time to look out for the first Puffin at sea but the real first is to get the first Puffin on land. Then there is the first Manx Shearwater (at sea and on land). Both the Manxie and Puffin usually start to arrive around 14th March, so any day now!
3) Decorate volunteers/overnight accommodation
Yes we are painting the volunteers kitchen. This year we have quite a few left over tins of paint of various colours. I was keen to use them up so we are going to be loosing some of the magnolia. This means the volunteers have one green wall (it is ok honest) and the overnight lounge has a nice blue wall which makes it feel a little more homely and less “magnoliary”.
4) Paint Visitor Centre
This is an annual job to keep the place fresh.
5) Getting to know your Assistant Warden
This is a nice time of year for the staff to get to know each other. Myself and the assistant warden (Sarah Harris) have only ever met once before at the interview. Now we are living and working on an island. All getting on well (it seems!?!). It is also a good time to train people up on the buildings/running day trips.
6) Go through bedding
In 2011 we have decided to go through all the bedding and get rid of those unsuitable duvets (especially after a winter sat inside). New pillows/duvets have been ordered for the volunteer accommodation and some pillows/duvet replaced in the overnight accommodation.
7) Order materials/stock for the season
Gas needs to be delivered, cleaning products ordered, loo rolls stocked up.
Jerry is also currently on Skomer but will be primarily based on Skokholm in the 2011 season as the renovations project moves up a gear and overnight guest are staying on the island in May, June and July (although now 2/3rd full there are still some places available)
8) Go birdwatching
You have to get out at this time of year. Not many times when you can do a complete loop and not bump into one single person!
Speaking of which......I am off! We shall let you know when those manxies/puffins are back, I can't wait to see them!