Sunday, 27 October 2013

Impending Storm

It seems that quite a few people are interested in hearing about the fate of pup 79. There is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that it survived its accident, and the rather rude way Ed had to pull it out of the crack by its head, and was later seen on The Slabs where its mum was looking after it. The bad news is that it still did not make it. It was the 16th of October when we last saw it lying dead on a rock after probably chilling or drowning in the waves whipped up by the south-westerly wind force 6. In the last two weeks we have lost quite a number of seal pups due to strong winds and big tides. Although pups can swim well they do need the safety of a nice beach to rest, suckle and warm up. The survivors often get swirled around the beaches like snow in a snow shaker which makes monitoring them a complete nightmare. The pups don't mind much getting dumped on another beach - the mothers usually find them, it is just us that mind especially when we have not had the chance to mark them with sheep dye before they move house.

How did it get up there?

Beautiful weaner

Whenever the weather allows we abseil down cliffs and scramble into caves to count and mark the pups. Seal Hole is one of my favourite caves. It is very eerie in there: Pitch black, the pungent smell of seal in the air, water dripping from the ceiling, sea slaters tickling your fingers when you search for a hold on the slippery rocks. And then on top of that you can hear the seals far back in the blackness snorting and shuffling; the stones crunch as their heavy bodies move about. We are convinced that the film makers of Jurassic Park used seal noises recorded in a cave to produce the snarls of Tyrannosaurus Rex and company.

And then suddenly you nearly step on a still wet, new born seal pup and the only thing that comes to your mind is: How cute is that!

Red and purple

Mum guarding seal pup in cave
Currently we are waiting for all hell to brake loose – the weather forecast is saying that there is a hurricane heading our way. It is 8pm and so far the storm has not reached us. The last few days have been very windy and today we were able to watch how gigantic waves crashed against the Mew Stone, foam was flying everywhere and staying on our feet was quite a challenge.

The Mew Stone battered by waves

Birds have been rather thin on the ground today but we have had a few good birds in the last week. On 21/10 we had an Olive-backed Pipit, a very rare bird on Skomer with the last being just a day later in 2002 in exactly the same place (next to the Warden's hut in North Haven). Nia had a Snow Bunting at the Garland Stone on 25/10 and yesterday we had a Black Redstart and a Merlin.  

Bee and Ed (Skomer Wardens)

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