Monday, 28 April 2014

First two weeks of a long term volunteer

I’m Sophia and I am the long term people engagement volunteer, I arrived here on Skomer Island two weeks ago and will be here until the beginning of July . I graduated last year from Aberystwyth University where I studied Environmental Science. I am very much enjoying Skomer Island life! On arrival I was introduced to three lovely researchers who I would be sharing a kitchen with. Within ten minutes I had been offered to cook dinner with them, and from then on we cook up a big meal every night (I am yet to open a can of baked beans which is surprising as I thought I would be living off of them!), these guys have also taught me how to make bread which is an essential survival skill on Skomer. 
The rainy day lessons where successful 

On my first day I shadowed Andy the Visitor Officer to see what his job was all about; one part of this that I had to learn was tractor driving, now this is a story in itself! The weather had been stunning, sunny blue sky all week so we set aside an afternoon for the Warden, Visitor Officer and Assistant Warden to teach me. The sky started clouding over and by the time I had climbed up onto the tractor the wind was blowing and the rain was bucketing it horizontally but still we powered through, determined to get it ticked off the list!  Now I have the privilege of driving the tractor across the island first thing in the morning which is a stunning sight to wake up to. 

My first weekend on the island was Easter weekend; this day involved collecting up a treasure hunt that had been laid out for the previous week, but in order to collect the clue I had to do the hunt to find them. So fittingly I ended up doing a treasure hunt on Easter Sunday and came back to the kitchen to find everyone enjoying freshly baked hot cross buns, living a life of luxury!
The bird life here is amazing! I spotted my first short-eared owl just the other day of which I got incredibly excited about! I have taken part in the island Puffin counts too, using seagulls as markers between groups of puffins to try and make it easier! They have such character that it's hard to not get distracted. Late evening/night is when the Manx Shearwaters appear, you can barely hear yourself think over their calls, and they are just everywhere! Speaking of loud calls, I had never heard a seal before I got this volunteer position, but seals are very loud and make the most obscure sounds! That’s an experience in itself.

There are too many fantastic things I have witnessed in my first two weeks here to fit on this blog, to name a few more, the sunsets have been mesmerizing  (the one pictured was taken on my first night on Skomer)and the bluebells are starting to flower and provide beautiful purple blankets on the island. All in all I am getting into the swing of things now, doing welcome talks, tractor driving, and started painting little wooden posts to do a project on puffin disturbance too.

Sophia Jackson, Long Term Volunteer

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