May is nearly over and we are approaching peak season for visitors to Skomer. For the next two months Puffins will be in focus (or out of focus depending on what lens you brought with you) along with our Guillemots and Razorbills. The island, it's birds, it's wildlife and it's residents are moving into top gear.
But we really shouldn't forget all the other birds and wildlife that are raising young on the island. Oystercatchers have been aggressively defending their chicks, alarmed by any gulls that come too close. Dunnocks, Wrens and Wheatears have chicks in their nests, some have fledged already. We've even seen a fledged Short-eared Owl gliding behind it's parents, learning the art of silent hunting. Ravens have fledged. Chough won't be far behind, and soon the island's gull colonies will be crying with the sounds of chicks. It's quite amazing to think that these birds can raise their young so quickly yet our Manx Shearwaters, already incubating eggs in their burrows, will still be feeding chicks into late August. the Manx chicks will only wriggle from their burrows to meet the world well after all the other islands birds have been on the wing for a month or two.
Meanwhile staff and volunteers are settling into the daily routines of welcoming visitors to the island, explaining the work of the Wildlife Trust to our visitors and setting them off to explore Skomer. The Dale Princess slides over Jack Sound, fighting the tugging tidal flows to drop off visitors. They arrive puffing with anticipation at the top of the steps.
After the recent sighting of the Black-headed Bunting, the number of birders visiting the island soared (yes another bird related metaphor...). Photos were put on Twitter, and the Rare Bird Network helped spread the word. It's amazing how quickly news spreads through the birding world these days.
So far the Whitsun weekend has proved a bit damp and dreary, but it wouldn't be a British Bank Holiday without some rain. Monday looks set to be sunny and we expect a busy week for visitors. The team will be out on patrol around the site answering questions and explaining the amazing lives of our seabirds. For us, our love affair with Skomer continues, and we hope to spend our time this week making you fall in love with this island too.
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