Being a rooky I was late for the boat set to sail for Skomer from Martins Haven Saturday morning. Once aboard, sharing the deck of the Dale Princess were the other 5 volunteers soon to become my mentors; wise peers with island experience of 75 years between them.
|Mat assisting with Manx Shearwater research.|
Once landed the charm of the island flew around me, Razorbills, Guillemots and of course the ‘Pembrokeshire parrot’ welcomed us as well as the previous weeks ‘vols’ awaiting their departure to the charmless comforts of the mainland. Having settled into ‘Bluebell’ room, shorts, trousers, wellies and waterproofs were shelved. The latter, becoming extremely necessary towards the end of our week.
|Puffins at burrow entrances either side of the path, The Wick. - Sarah Harris.|
I was sharing bluebells with JP and we made our way to supervise day-trippers on the Wick. We arrived to find serious rule breaking! A person off the path, JP was soon to act; laying down the law, repeating the rules; STAY ON THE PATH! During my 8 days on the island the first day was the only time we witnessed this serious wrong doing in such an extreme way. The crimes for the rest of the week (on the Wick) included tripods blocking the right of way for puffins (and humans) as well as some day trippers attempting to touch, lay down and photograph too close for puffin comfort.
It became clear from my first hour on the wick that the main duty of a skomer vol is too not only inform people about the island and its wildlife but too ensure that the animals, plants and fungi are respected as we are on their isolated patch, sharing island life on their island edge. I was over the moon to see that schools local and from a far are visiting the island as well as people from all over the world.
|Little Owl - Mat Tebbutt.|
DG and GR were the handy men of the week constructing a nest box for choughs, a superb door handle on North pond hide and a super new key ring stand. ‘Well done! Your commitment to the islands tasks and your knowledge of the islands life and history would inspire any mainlander.’
|Volunteers at work, every worker needs a supervisor! - Jonathan Parsons.|
I was very lucky to be invited down to the lab at the wardens house Sunday night and experienced Manx Shearwaters up close as well as observing Holly and Rhiannon fitting temporary tracking devices and rings, under the supervision of Prof. Chris Perrins (a firm handshake) and island researcher (of 9 years!) Dave Boyle in preparation for monitoring of the critically endangered Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus for Rhiannon’s project.
|A bee enjoying Sea Campion - Mat Tebbutt.|
|Another group meal!! Its all about the food out here! - Mat Tebbutt.|
|Storms hit Skomer once again - at The Wick. - Mat Tebutt.|
The 8 days I spent on Skomer was extremely worth the time and effort and I would highly recommend it to people of all walks of life, you will leave inspired by the work that takes place and leave with memories and friends for life. My thanks to all the vols (5 great new friends) the long term vols (Molly and Jasper), Lewis (the hostel warden) and the various researchers and students. Thanks to Richard (the field assistant) for answering my questions and finally, a big thank you too Chris Taylor and Sarah Harris for providing me with alcohol (and Becks of the red hair) to assist with my degree result celebration. A bigger thank you to Chris, Sarah and all for your time; keep up the good work, your infinite patience and dedication and continue to inspire people all ages about our Skomer Island.