Monday, 24 March 2014

Getting down to business

Well the spring moves on and the island will soon be opening up to visitors. After the stormy winter we have some work to do to have the place ready for this spring influx. The overnight accommodation needed cleaning and some paint work, the solar system needs care, footpaths need maintenance and the steps at the landing and the sales point need some repair. As well as these visitor based maintenance tasks we have our own veg patches to tend to and living quarters to make liveable.

Jason digging his veg patch at the Farm
Bee digging her garden at North Haven
Our new Visitor Officer, Andy Bramwell, is on the mainland, extremely frustrated by the weather, and awaiting a gap in the weather to get out here and help us in the last few days of March get things ready for April the 1st and the grand opening. April will also see our Field Worker in 2014, Alistair Wilson and two Long Term Volunteers, Elisa Miquel Riera and Sophia Jackson, joining us.

Wren singing with typical gusto from a stone wall near the Farm
A quick up date and taste of the activities of our breeding birds: Wrens are singing from almost all over the island, including stone walls inland and coastal cliffs. Dunnocks are also widespread and have started advertising their presence.

Dunnocks are widespread and have started singing their scratchy little songs

Ravens nest on the Neck

Ravens are well under way with their breeding cycles and Choughs have finally started nest building. The first sighting of a bird with nesting material was on the 22nd.

Chough carrying nesting material
Buzzards and Peregrines are preparing to begin nesting and hopefully April will see plenty of activity. There is a national Peregrine survey taking place in 2014 and we will be surveying sites on Skomer throughout the season.

Buzzard getting ready to begin nesting

Adult Peregrine Falcon

Our breeding seabirds were in the news over the new year after a big wreck of birds in France, Spain and Britain. See our blog posts from February New threats, More news and Interesting posts. We eagerly await their return and will be monitoring the breeding 2014 season with interest. Guillemots and Razorbills have been seen on and around the island since our return in the first week of March but on and off and they have been absent in the last few days. This is normal for this time of year and it isn't until April that they truly return to the island. The first Puffin was seen on the 18th (9 days later than 2013) and the first Manx Shearwater was heard on the 19th (15 days later than 2013). Fulmars and Kittiwakes have been present since our return.

Fulmar, one of the few seabirds back on the cliffs already
Our beloved seal population also has it's own dramas. An extremely late pup was born on Driftwood Bay on the 16th but unfortunately died and became food for Great Black-backed Gulls.

A poor late pup being eaten by Great Black-backed Gulls
We also noticed this older seal with a large amount of fishing net around it's neck and signs of injury. We don't want to depress people but we also want to raise awareness of the realities of life for our native wildlife and the issues that humans pose.

Grey Seal with a dangerous amount of fishing net around it's neck
Our Grey seals are still moulting at this time of year but can be seen playing a lot in the surf and later sleeping off their exertions.
Moulting Grey Seal

Happily asleep
More updates from a very busy Skomer Island soon.

Eddie Stubbings, Skomer Warden

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for bringing everyone up to date - I am sure most followers appreciate your efforts, I know I do. I can't wait to come back to visit the island in the summer. Keep up the good work!