Tuesday 29 May 2012

Skomer News

Curlew chick - Richard Kipling
The birds are busy out here at the moment either incubating or feeding chicks. First off the blocks the Ravens have already kicked the kids out of the nest! The Oystercathers are sitting on full clutches, or have young chicks, and are occasionally getting up to terrorise passing gulls. Two of the Curlews pairs now have chicks running about so they are very busy keeping a watchful eye on their young. They are such beautiful chicks – big long legs with a ball of golden and brown fluff on top! They have small, straight bills and big black eyes. Great to see.

Curlew chick - Richard Kipling

Gull eggs are hatching at the moment and I’ve seen a few eggs now with a tiny hole in and a little beak sticking out, making a quiet peeping sound. Puffins have been seen coming ashore increasingly often with food so they must have hungry chicks in their burrows. We know the Jackdaw chicks are demanding food as we can hear their calls every time one of the parents pops home; will we have any white ones this year? The Little Owls are busy bringing food back to their downy chicks in the wall near North Pond Hide. I’m looking forward to seeing them when they start to explore the great outdoors.

Lesser Black-backed Gull eggs - Richard Kipling
Razorbill and Guillemot chicks are hatching or about to hatch and the Fulmars are soon to lay their eggs. The Kittiwakes are still building their nests so it will be a while before we see their tiny white chicks. The passerines are busy too with Meadow Pipit, Magpie, Crow, Wren and Dunnock feeding chicks and Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat nest building.

Oystercatcher keeping watch - Richard Allen

Finally, we appear to have two pairs of Short-eared Owl this season. One pair look to be feeding chicks, but the second pair still seem to be unsettled. It is possible they have failed at their first nesting attempt, but, there is time for them to try again. We will keep you posted!

There is a lot happening at the moment, it’s all very exciting out here on Skomer!.       
Sarah Harris
Assistant Warden.  

Saturday 26 May 2012


Here are some pictures of the moths caught in the Heath Trap the other night (23rd-24th May) at the farm. All were released after identification.

I must say, the Spectacle is a personal favourite!
Garden Carpet Xanthorhoe fluctuata
Garden Carpet - Lewis Yates
Common and widespread, but still very pretty! This species can be found between April and October.
Muslin Moth Diaphora mendica
Muslin Moth - Lewis Yates
A species being recorded a lot of at the moment. In Wales, England and Scotland the male is grey/brown (as above), but in Ireland they are buff. The females are white with black spots and fly by day. The males are nocturnal; therefore all the Muslin moths caught have been male. This species can be seen in May and June.
Spectacle Abrostola tripartita

Spectacle - Lewis Yates
Saving the best 'til last – the Spectacle is so named for obvious reasons; the tufts on the thorax create the two circles which look like spectacles, or flying goggles! This species flies between May and September and the larvae spend the winter as a pupa. The moths being caught at the moment are incredibly smart, with wing patterns very well defined. An all-round fantastic moth.

Sarah Harris
Assistant Warden

Sunday 13 May 2012

Floral Photoblog - 13 May.

Bluebells and lime kiln - Chris Taylor

Occassional "Whitebells" - A result of a bit of inbreeding....tut tut. Chris Taylor
Celandines (more woodland flora) - Chris Taylor

Ground Ivy - great smelling leaves - Chris Taylor
More bluebells - separated from the rest of the gang! Chris Taylor

Scarlet Pimpernel surrounded by Sea Campion. Chris Taylor

Saturday 12 May 2012

Photoblog. 12 May 2012

Nightjar - brief visit on 5th May Lewis Yates

Puffins....Chris Taylor

Puffins Chris Taylor
Bluebells and Sea Champion are really looking stunning. Chris Taylor

Razorbills - plenty are now on eggs Chris Taylor

Razorbills also resting near to nest ledges Chris Taylor

Puffin reaching around to get to its preening gland. The preening gland secrets a waxy oil that is used to maintain feather condition to ensure they effectively repel water.....and to look good for your partner(s). Chris Taylor

Preening puffin. Chris Taylor

Sunday 6 May 2012

April highlights!

Raven, Lewis Yates

A Lapwing at North Pond on the 11th was the first highlight of the month. Once a breeding bird on Skomer this species is now, sadly, just an occasional visitor. On the 12th a Nightingale was discovered in North Valley, this is the first record since 2004 and a county description species. It was seen briefly as it flew to and from its favourite bush. However, the Nightingale wasn’t the only excitement for the day; a Great Skua was also seen feeding on a Lesser Black-backed Gull just off the north coast. We finally caught up with the House Martins with three seen at the Garland Stone on the 13th. Two Mealy Redpolls posed nicely for Dave Boyle as he took photos on the 13th. The Short-eared Owls were observed throughout the month and were seen ‘wing clapping’ mid-month. It remains to be seen whether or not these birds will breed on the island this year. Common Snipe were flushed on 7 days in April, with a peak day count of four on the 15th.
Grasshopper Warbler, Lewis Yates
The first Grasshopper Warbler of the year was heard on the 16th, followed by singles on the 20th and 23rd, two on the 21st, three on the 24th and four on the 26th. Lone Goldcrests were seen on just two days in April, the 18th and 26th. The 20th proved busy for birds, with the first Sedge Warblers and Whimbrel recorded as well as 114 Willow Warblers, the peak count for the year so far. The first Common Redstart for the year was noted on the 22nd and on this date the first Raven family fledged at The Amos, having raised four young. Other breeding birds were also busy, with the first Guillemot and Razorbill eggs noted on the 23rd, also, the first Cuckoo of the year visited on the 23rd, followed by singles on the 25th, 26th and 30th. A female Hawfinch paid a visit on the 24th in North Valley. 50 Blackcaps were counted on the 26th along with the first Common Whitethroat of the season. The first two Swifts passed over in the 28th and the first Whinchat was recorded on the 30th. Merlins were observed throughout April with up to two seen on 11 days and, finally, by the end of the month three Manx Shearwater eggs had been recorded in study burrows.
Whinchat, Lewis Yates
Sarah Harris,
Assistant Warden.