Thursday, 22 August 2013

The end of an era

Last week was a week of goodbyes, leaving parties and cakes as Lewis, James, Dave and Jenni left us.

Lewis was our field assistant this season, he spent all day every day staring through a telescope at various seabirds (see a day in the life of a skomer field assistant), he did a fantastic job and the results will be available soon.  He was an important part of the Skomer team and a lovely housemate!  James our long term volunteer helped us out with all sorts of things throughout the season while also collecting data on moths for his dissertation (see let the moth trapping commence) We really appreciate all his help and couldn't have managed without him, we got him his very own moth trap so he can keep up the good work on the mainland!
Lewis and James 
Dave has just finished his 10th year working as a researcher on Skomer, his contribution to the island has been immeasurable, it's been a privilege to work with him and there are an awful lot of people who will miss him.  We wish him the best of luck with his next adventure to eradicate rats from St Agnes in the Scillies.  While Jenni who was assisting with Oxford university's work tracking shearwaters and puffins is now off to work on penguins in South Africa, we're very jealous!

Left to Right: Jenni, Annette, Nia, James, Will and Dave
It's starting to feel autumnal on Skomer.  The puffins and razorbills are all gone and there are only a handful of guillemots left on the Wick.  The last of the swallows around the farm buildings are fledging, which means no more cleaning up swallow poo in the compost loos (thank you volunteers!!).  Even the vast swathes of ragwort are starting to lose their bright yellow colour.

Good for the cinnabar caterpillars!
However with the autumn comes more wildlife.  The seals are starting to gather on the low tide rocks in north haven and the garland stone and big bull seals are hanging around the pupping beaches.  We're expecting our first seal pups any day now.  Migrants are starting to drop in; with spotted flycatchers and robins in the garden, willow warblers and chiffchaffs in the valleys and flocks of juvenile starling making a racket out on the west coast.   

Yesterday we spotted two pods of common dolphin just off the coast of Skomer, one pod of about 20 animals came right past north haven.  The mackerel were very late this year but they have finally appeared so the boatmen are happy and have been kindly supplying staff and volunteers with fish over the last week.
Fresh mackerel from Karl and Derek 
Nia - (Assistant Warden)

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