Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The early bird

... catches the worm. However in this case it wasn't a Blackbird that was gorging on succulent Skomer earth worms (they can grow to massive dimensions, believe me, I know as I have dug over my entire garden) but a female Kestrel. She has been hanging around Skomer for the last week. Unfortunately we have not seen a male Kestrel to keep her company. She is a bit shaggy, with some feathers sticking up on her back and she might not be the sharpest tool in the box when it comes to hunting - hence feeding on earth worms. On the other hand, who can blame her when there is a gale force 7 blowing - everyone keeps a low profile in such weather.

Waiting for the sun to shine on the sun dial (Pic: Jason Moss)
Yummy earth worms (Pic: Jason Moss)

What else has happened in the last week? Ed found a roost of 18 Purple Sandpiper on the Neck which was rather exciting. We all went back yesterday to have another look and to our delight they were still there- hunkered down in between rocks.

Purple Sandpiper (Pic: Jason Moss)

 A non- wildlife highlight was the fact that we managed to get our four volunteers over despite the bad weather. All of us have been very busy scrubbing, dusting, painting and polishing to give the island the finishing touches before the visitors arrive.

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Back to the wildlife highlights: At the moment we have up to 240 Grey Seals hauled out at North Haven. Every day we count them and look for tags. So far we have seen four different seals with tags, however it is very difficult to read the code on these little plastic markers. We have sent the pictures to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary as we often get rehabilitated seals from Cornwall visiting Skomer.

Bull with orange flipper tag which can only been seen...
...when he lifts his tail.
And final highlight: Mick Loughran has also made it out to Skomer (and is stuck now, he wanted to leave today) and is continuing his long-term study of the Skomer Vole. He was out every morning checking his traps - rain or shine. Today we found one Wood Mouse and three Skomer Voles which had decided to accept Mick's offer of Bed&Breakfast (the traps have straw and seeds in them).

Ed and our volunteer Tanya helping Mick check his traps

One cute vole

And what will happen next? We are hoping to get a rush of small migrant birds soon as it has been very quiet in the last week. Also we are expecting that our seabirds (Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots) will be present more regularly and for longer periods as April progresses. And last but not least, we are excited to welcome our first visitors to our amazing island. 

(Skomer Warden)

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