Wednesday 31 August 2011

on this day in 1961

Taken from the daily chatty log of 1961......

On the 17th August 1961....

… a sunny day, very warm. Cloudy with slight rain in late evening.

Alfred brought 103 visitors today, 26 of these were scouts from Wembley, a rowdy lot I must say. One of the younger members of the troop attempted to climb the cliff in the N.W corner of S.Haven, he got half-way and no further, up or down, we heard shouts of help. I went to his assistance and got him safely down, no worse for wear.

Picked up the traps and took 4 female and 6 male for Dr Rowlands, skinned and dissected 8 of these this afternoon.

A Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Willow Warblers, 2 Robins, 2 Whitethroats, 3 Blackbirds, 1 Song Thrush – farm. 3 Swallows flying W, 1 flying E, 16 Oystercatchers mouth of S. Stream, a Teal at N.Pond.

A visitor handed in a ring found on a leg in the centre of the island.

A French crabber in N. Haven this evening, we went aboard, evidenty they go as far as N as N. Rona and St Kilda.

The first Shearwaters were coming ashore- 2215 hours. DRS

On the 30th August 1961....

… a sunny day and very warm. Wind slight W to N.W. There was quite a considerable swell until after low tide this made landing quite difficult.

Alfred brought 76 visitors, one joined the society. 4 came with a dog, on finding that dogs aren't allowed, although it is possible to leave them tied at the beach, they went back, the first time this has happened, they said its never been tied up and they couldn't bear to leave it, needless to say it was a poodle!!!!

Picked up Grid F. 2nd half traps, one dead Common Shrew which I have skinned.

One gets some most interesting results if the traps are visited every 2 hours, not so much from an activity rhythm point of view as there are not enough traps to give a true picture of each individual, but from the movement and territory point of view.

There seems to have been some more passage of migrants today, 6 Grey Wagtails flew W and 2 Yellow Wagtails flew W. The former all passed by flying at about 150' where as there later were only at about 20' above ground level.

Swallows passed S.E. In small numbers at various times during the morning up until 1215 HRS. At one time there must have been 30 hawking around the farm buildings, one was sat on the pole just outside the gate. 2 Sand Martins also passed S.E.

A French crabber in S. Haven this evening, 3 fellows came ashore on to the beach to collect stones for use as weights in their lobster pots. DRS.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Garland Stone By Rosie Walker-Brown

Skomer is starting to feel Autumnal with migrants passing through - recent highlights include spotted flycatchers, willow warblers and a blue tit. This is a poem written by Rosie who spent a few months on Skomer last year carrying out a research project looking into the fledgling weights of Manx Shearwater chicks. She has recently returned to help settle in Sarah who will be repeating the project for her undergraduate dissertation. The poem captures the island well at this time of year.

Garland Stone

I sit beneath a cloudless sky,

And watch the natural world go by,

Across the sea a path of gold,

As the evening sun begins to fold.

Beneath me waves thrash on the rocks,

And ravens dance above in flocks,

A dozen fearless rabbits graze,

And the browning bracken gently sways.

A chough calls from overhead,

Its beak and legs distinctive red,

Below an oystercatcher cries,

And a soaring gannet turns and dives.

Ramsey’s bathed in evening light,

The white of Grassholm just in sight,

Tankers shelter close to shore,

I wonder where they’re heading for.

Sitting in this timeless place,

The bracing wind fresh on my face,

I cannot help but feel at ease,

A scene that never fails to please.

No two days are just the same,

But even in the driving rain,

An ideal place to clear the mind,

I wonder next time what I’ll find...

Rosie Walker-Brown

Thursday 18 August 2011

Late August on Skomer

A few thoughts about Late August on Skomer - By Richard Kipling - Field Assistant 2011

Stepping out into the courtyard this morning the softness of the air had a new edge, a coolness that was not yet a chill, but betrayed the changing season. For the first time the shifting colours of the island mark senescence rather than the appearance of new flowers. Crisp brown is gently spreading from leaf tips of bracken and bramble, darkening the yellow blooms of the Ragwort. Along the path through North Valley the volunteers have been scything back the vegetation, and the scatter of cut bracken over the path is like a harvest.

At the stream the water dropwort stems are brittle and dead, the carpet of forget-me-not reduced to a few pale-flowered plants under the willow leaves, themselves tarnished and fading. In the rabbit exclosures the purple haze of heather flowers alone defies the coming autumn, and bees twist and turn between the inflorescences. The air is still and there is a quietness; the island peaceful after the frantic race to breed and fledge young, to protect new life.

Here on the north coast a gentle breeze ruffles the pages of my notepad, the lobster-pot men work below me off the Garland Stone, and the sounds of the boat engine and various clatters and mechanical noises drift up to me. From half a mile away the hum of generators on the stationary tankers percolates the silence. Although it is eleven in the morning the light has the quality of a late afternoon; the warmth of the sun is lessened by high cloud, and in the clear air the fissures and colours of the rocks are picked out precisely. There is an air of waiting. Even the sea is tranquil, though in the tidal race the smoothness is an illusion that hides turmoil beneath.

Waves lap at the foot of the Garland Stone – hard now to imagine those spring storms, when spray crested its rocky peak. Glancing up I can see the Irish Ferry, my old friend, white against the grey of sea and sky, drifting through the stillness.

Richard Kipling.
Skomer Field Assistant 2011