Saturday 30 November 2013

News from the mainland

Having moved off the island on the 16th of November we have little news of what is going on on the island but we thought you might be interested to know what we are up to now we have left. Lucy and Sash Tusa (Trusties and Friends of the islands) have kindly let us stay at Rath Cottage, their lovely little homestead at Martins Haven. We are still as close to Skomer as you can get.

We will now spend the winter putting in data, writing reports, attending meetings and giving talks. Oh, and hopefully take a few weeks holiday. In between working on the computer at Rath Cottage and the odd trip to the Trust's Wildlife Centre, at Cilgerran, we have been keeping an eye on the birds of the Dale Peninsular around the Deer Park, Martin's Haven and Marloes Mere. The birds are not too dissimilar to those of Skomer as it is just a short hop, skip and jump (if you can imagine a bird doing that) over to the island from here.

Here is a short diary of our sightings from the last week or so:

Nov 16th - Skomer (our last day on the island): a few thrushes moving through inc. 14 Fieldfare, 20 Redwing, 11 Songthrushes, also 1 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest in the Ivy at North Haven.
- On the mainland: 1 Orphean Warbler (in the Royals garden), 3 Whooper Swans (on fields near Marloes Mere).

17th - Martin's Haven and Marloes Mere: Huge flocks of Skylarks on fields with Lapwings and Starlings, 1 Woodcock, a Black Redstart (on roof of Rath Cottage), 2 Chiffchaffs, 22 Chough and 2 Lapland Buntings.

20th - Martin's Haven and Marloes Mere: Black Redstart and a Chiffchaff.

23rd - Martin's Haven: Great Northern Diver flew north AM, also ad Mediterranean Gull.

24th - Dowrog Common PM: Hen Harrier (2 males and 2+ ringtails in to roost), 2 Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk.

25th - Dale and Martin's Haven: a Merlin (chasing Skylarks), 3 Chiffchaffs, a Grey Wagtail and a few Siskins.

28th - Martin's Haven: Merlin (chasing a passerine through the garden of Rath Cottage), 3 Stonchats, 140+ Black-headed Gulls, 9 Mediterranean Gulls, 15 Kittiwakes and 4 Porpoises.

30th - Martin's Haven and Marloes Mere: 26 Snipe, 2 Short-eared Owls, 3 Buzzards, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier, 1 Merlin, a male Kestrel (which caught and ate a small mammal right in front of us), an adult female Peregrine (also seemed very tame and remained on a fence post and allowed close approach), lots of Skylarks, Lapwings and Starlings and 7+ Lapland Buntings.

Quite an exciting diary for a birdwatcher, if you condense it down to the highlights.

Our next week will consist of, ringing with Steve Sutcliffe tomorrow, an Islands Advisory Committee meeting on Mon, a seabird meeting in Cardiff on Tuesday and then back to Norfolk on Wednesday to see family and continue report writing etc.

We have finished the breeding bird report (non seabirds) and this is now available to read in full on the Trust's website. An interim summary of seabird numbers from 2013 is also on the website. You can see other cool stuff on the website including a message from TV celebrity Iolo Williams. Keep an eye out for these and other exciting things coming up and here are a few photos from the breeding bird report to wet your appetite.

Red Campion at sunset (Lewis Yates) 

Short-eared Owl chick

Family of Choughs (Pia Reufsteck)

Friday 15 November 2013

Last blog of 2013

We are fast approaching the end of November and we now need to take advantage of any window in the weather to get ourselves off the island for a few months rest. That window is coming up this weekend and we are packing and should be ready to leave by Saturday. We will be continuing our seal monitoring work right up until the morning we leave. We have just past the 180 pups born mark, making another record pupping season.

Here are a few pictures of some of our breeding Grey Seals and their pups from this year. Also, a few other highlights of the year and from this autumn.

A Goldcrest after flying into our bedroom window, Nov

Fulmars returned to the island in Nov to claim winter territories

A flock of winter starlings

A November storm
Puffins and a Rainbow in May
A new born pup this week
Grey Seal bull
A shy Grey Seal pup moulting its white fur
We apologise that the blog has been seal dominated over the last month or so but the seals became a major part of our lives on Skomer this autumn and we think that they are fascinating animals. We could have told so many intriguing stories about the struggles of a Grey Seal pupping season but our internet has been intermittent and we will need to let the pictures do the talking for now.
Thank you to everyone who has made the 2013 season on Skomer such a special one and see you all next year for another year in the life of Skomer.
Ed and Bee, Skomer Wardens