Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Skomer in Autumn

Hello from the long-term volunteer on Skomer. I’ve been here nearly 5 weeks now and have got involved with all sorts of things, from visitor work to vole trapping to re-roofing! It’s a great time to be on Skomer, a really different feel to the busy summer season. There’s a very peaceful atmosphere, and though the puffins, guillemots and razorbills are long gone there’s no shortage of wildlife to see. The huge flocks of ravens are fantastic at the moment, and I could spend hours watching them playing in the wind. Going out at night I’ve had the wonderful experience of young manx shearwater fledglings using my head as a launching platform for their flying practice. During the day I’ve had the opportunity to get close up to some newborn seal pups, including abseiling down onto an otherwise inaccessible beach to mark some pups with spray paint! I’ve been able to learn new skills too, like how to drive a tractor and use a scythe. My newly acquired scything skills were put to good use, and with the help of some hard working volunteers the history trail is now cleared and accessible again.

A Skomer vole

This seal pup is less than 24 hours old

Helping out with manx shearwater research

Scything the history trail

At the end of the year, it’s time to assess the disrepair that a busy season has caused, and to start to get things ready for next year. A couple of weeks ago, the weather was so bad that there were no visitors on the island for a whole week. Volunteers Sonia, Dave, Maggie and Geoff took advantage of this by getting stuck into lots of maintenance jobs. They fixed up the old assistant warden’s hut at the farm, including fitting the floor and some skirting boards – Geoff got a bit of a fright when a toad ambled out, unharmed, from behind a bit of skirting board he’d been hammering in!  They also built an amazing new wood store, houses for the generator and for a water pump, and replaced a leaky hide roof. Down at the landing stage the steps were swept (though a naughty rabbit dug a hole the next night, covering the steps in an enormous mound of soil!), the sales point was re-roofed, and some new benches were made and fitted.

Geoff and Dave building the generator house
The finished construction

All hands on deck building the wood store
Fixing the sales point
And that’s not all! The volunteers also managed to find time for a reptile transect, removing the old wind turbine, tidying the farm garden, dismantling old boardwalk and more. They did an amazing amount of work, and really helped get things sorted. I would like to thank them, and all the other wonderful volunteers that I’ve met and worked with on Skomer so far - you are all fantastic, and have really contributed not only to island tasks but to making my time here so special. To anyone who’s considering volunteering on Skomer, whether for just a week or longer term, go for it – you’ll have an amazing time and a truly unforgettable experience.

Helen (long-term volunteer)

No comments:

Post a Comment