Tuesday 29 March 2016

Time flies...

...when you've got lots of work to do OR of course when you are having fun! The question is: What is the reason on Skomer.

March is nearly over so here is an update on what has been happening since we arrived on Skomer four weeks ago.

One of the jobs we did was to repair the damaged roofs at the Farm and North Haven - attentive readers might have noticed  that our blog log post from three weeks ago only mentioned damaged roofs at the Farm.

Windy North Haven
Well the night of the 8th of March was very windy (wind force 8) and I slept rather badly due to the howling and rattling all around the house. I even got up to have a look outside our bedroom window as it sounded as if some fish box or plant pot was bouncing around outside, however I couldn't spot anything. The mystery was solved the next morning: The corner bit of our roof had blown off. 

We were able to find some of the roofing sheets but most of them had been lost. So in order to fix the roof we had to dismantle our reptile transect which had been constructed by using left over roofing sheets. When you come to visit you will be surprised to find reptile sheet number 8 on our roof.

A note for our dear volunteers: there is no need for concern, we are not going to send you on top of the library to look for reptiles.

The smallest one, hence me, had a look inside the loft space to see what was going on.
After several days of work the roof was finally fixed.

However we also had some really nice, calm and sunny days and have enjoyed several breakfasts on our new breakfast bar (which Ed built) on our balcony.

A few, mostly young, seals have kept us amused by seiging our inflateable at a regular basis. We have even been able to watch how they leap in: The seal shoots out of the water like a dolphin and throws itself against the side of the boat, which quite often just moves off and the seal bounces back into the water with a big splash. However when the seal gets it right it slides onto the tube with grace and then happily sunbathes on our boat for the rest of the day.

Also very amusing to watch are the playing seals on North Haven beach.

Another March highlight was when we spotted 11 Mallard ducklings getting led down South Stream by their mum.

Other than roofs we have been working on our new Sales Point which is coming along nicely.

Jason and Bee fitting the drawers
Here are some pictures of Leighton and Ed who are the main constructors of this work of art (maybe they have worked on it a bit too long...)

Nearly finished

We also have had our first two groups of volunteers over who were absolutely amazing helping us to get the island ready for the visitors. A huge thank you to Sarah, Rachel, Tanya, Bridget and Pat for all the painting, scrubbing, washing, sweeping and scraping they have done.

Ladies action

And then Easter Friday arrived and for the first time this year we opened Skomer to the public. It was a day with sunny spells and not too windy, so we were able to welcome 53 visitors. Unfortunately the rest of Easter was a complete washout but I cheered myself up by looking at this lovely Lesser Celandine which has started to flower on the Neck.

See you soon

(Skomer Warden)

Saturday 5 March 2016

Springing into action

Lots to talk about from these first few days on Skomer Island, which probably are best illustrated with minimal rambling and lots of pictures! Everything from emergency repairs of damaged roofs and solar hot-water panels at the farm (it was a rough winter), a tonne of spring cleaning (will it ever end?), cold, wet and windy weather with a few glimmers of spring and plenty more.

Welcome home! The farm still stands, and its good to be back (for those of you who have never seen it, you may be thinking "well where's the roof?!" Fortunately this part of the farm complex is supposed to look like this, preserved in the same state as it was when purchased by the WTSWW)
Unfortunately not all was rosy, with two holes in roofs caused by the strong winds over the winter. These solar hot water panels didn't fare too well, and a fair amount of water has been making its way into the building during the last few months.

A temporary fix, which should keep the water out long enough to allow us to get someone in to repair the damaged panels. The roof being watertight should also mean that the building will dry out, allowing us to crack on with much needed cleaning of the hostel and researcher quarters

Pretty much most of the island looks like this; brown and battered after a harsh winter. However, if you look closer on hands and knees there are lots of signs of life amongst the old bracken...

...like these bluebell shoots. A couple of months from now and the island will be in bloom!

Also some of the ground ivy is flowering already, surviving salt spray and battering winds due to its low creeping nature
The willows at North Valley Crossing are also coming into leaf and flowering

And as always, the daffodils are looking great around the farm

North Valley Crossing, and indeed most other areas of the island are looking extremely wet, with standing water in lots of places that it shouldn't be. Temporary pools such as the one in the bottom of this picture have held some surprises...

...like this clump of frogspawn. Being right in the middle of the path isn't exactly ideal... We found frog spawn on our first day arriving on the island on 28th February, which is pretty early
Lesser black-backed gulls are all present and on territory, with plenty of displaying being noted

Despite what this picture suggests, most of our Oystercatchers are yet to properly pair up, with most birds remaining along the rocky coastline of the island

A few winter visitors remain on the island, like these teal and snipe on North Pond. How many Snipe can you see?

a small number of blackbirds remain on the island, along with a few song thrushes and plenty of robins