Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Visitors, volunteers and variable veather

The 2013 season kicked off over the Easter weekend with our first boat loads of visitors arriving on Friday and our first group of volunteers arriving on Saturday.  It's great to have people on the island and to start getting to grips with our daily routine and we're slowly working out the logistics of getting people on and off the island with the unpredictable winds we've been having recently. 

The first visitors of 2013 arriving in N Haven
Our first group of volunteers were greeted by the news that the island tractor had broken down and we would have to use wheelbarrows to transport all their luggage up to the farm.  Unfortunately this was not an April fools but they took it well and with everybody helping out we managed to get everything up in one trip and everyone was still smiling by the end of it!

Since then the vols have been getting stuck in with lots of enthusiasm (despite the cold!) and have been helping us with all sort of things from greeting visitors to soil erosion surveys to spraying WD40 on every hinge on the island.  Some have even taken pity on the assistant warden who hasn't been shopping for a month and started feeding me leftovers!  They've all been fantastic and I can't believe how much we've achieved since they arrived.

The volunteers repairing the landing stage fence
The auks have been absent from the cliffs for the last few days and it's been bitterly cold but there's still plenty going on.  The ravens are taking young rabbits to feed their chicks and there have been lots of birds around including woodcock, lapwing, chiffchaffs, the first blackcaps of the season and two handsome male ring ouzels.

Male blackcap  in the ivy
Four raven chicks waiting for bits of rabbit
The Manx Shearwaters have arrived properly now and it feels like Skomer again when you can walk around at night and see them flying around your head and littering the ground.  There was even one calling from a burrow while I was out watching chough yesterday.

Fulmar at sunset
We've had a few days of glorious sunshine and we're all hoping for some warmer weather so that we don't have to wear five layers of clothing and I can stop going to Birdlog with a hot water bottle stuck up my jumper!

Nia (assistant warden)

Thanks to Paul Richards for the Blackcap and Fulmar photos

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