Saturday 13 October 2018

still on Skomer, last 6 standing people this autumn

Here we are, 6 people remaining on Skomer including me (Sylwia) - new Warden, Nathan - new Warden, Sarah - the Assistant Warden, Sarah - the Visitors Officer, Bee and Ed - old (but still very young) Wardens ;-)
There will only be 4 of us left by the end of this month! Sarah and Sarah are leaving in just over 2 weeks time.
It is definitely different on the island without our daily visitors and volunteers' company. We are still enjoying ourselves and working hard to make sure that everything is safe, sound and secure for the next season 2019.
I have been thinking about the new blog and instead of focusing on one specific aspect I thought I would give you all an update on the things we have been doing in the last month and the amazing bird sightings we have had.

We have been experiencing the storm for 3 days now, wind gusts reaching 60 knots.
Other than
-flooded toilet,
-half of the windows leaking up in the library (North Haven),
-half of our garage door fell into pieces,
-boat almost flying down the cliff,
-the guttering that came off up in Farm
-and small damages, everything is good! So far...until we potentially find other things, hopefully not!
We have been worrying about the seals but there is nothing we can do other than hope that they have been OK! We cannot tell how the storm has affected them just yet but we will let you know as soon as we know.



The new garage up in the Farm is looking good. It is still unfinished but there isn't much left to go. Chris and his crew have been working hard on it and the Skomer team has been able to help with cladding.
2019 is going to be a lot easier with two garages. We won't have to walk down from the Farm to collect the tractor in early mornings and drive back up to pack our guests' and volunteers' belongings then drive down to park it in NHV anymore. Tractor will be parked mostly at the Farm and make everyone's daily routine a little bit easier. It will save us some time. This extra time we will gain is going to be utilized for other important tasks on the island.

testing the grounds
raw garage before cladding
Nathan contemplating
fitting some corner pieces of wood or in fact, removing it here and refitting 5 minutes later
Ed admiring his favourite hammer
garage looking good on the right side
garage looking good from the front


We are very grateful to the Friends again for putting a lot of effort into building the new tanks up at the Farm. They are now graciously waiting to be used next season. There was some water pumped into them on the final day when they completed the pump house. Some minor pipework leaks occurred but that was very well dealt with and fixed. We had Mike Sherman inputting his electrical expertise to the water tanks plan. We are looking forward to using them and having a good water supply system working great at the Farm next year. Thank you to Steven Sutcliffe for leading the project.

my favourite picture of all times, thank you all!


We have said goodbye to our last 2018 short-term volunteers and our long-term volunteers (Ellie, Harriett) just over two weeks ago. We are very grateful to you all. Skomer island and us benefit hugely from your assistance and commitment. Everything that has been achieved over the years would not have been achieved without your input. And although myself and Nathan have only been here for 6 weeks, we know what a difference volunteers make on the islands and everywhere else. We have seen it and we have experienced it. Every person who comes out here to volunteer helps in some ways. Interacting with you all teaches us valuable lessons and I am sure that we all gain something from having you here. The island gains from your passion for wildlife, which is transformed into hard work that you put into the tasks that you undertake while being here, whether it's bird watching, monitoring, maintenance or interaction with day visitors. Having you here helps us to develop, often to look at things from a different perspective and most importantly motivates us to work harder to achieve more as Wardens and simply as human beings.
We are very much looking forward to seeing all the returning volunteers and to meeting the new ones who have not yet had a chance to fall in love with Skomer island from the first sight.
Recharge your batteries over winter and come back to enjoy this place with us again next year! :)

Big male seal caption with us posing just before the very last boat of this season left with all our fantastic volunteers.

group bird watching at ivy before the OxNav researchers Martyna and Joe and our volunteers left


Me and Sarah (Visitors Officer) recently realised that our birthdays are one day after another so we decided to jointly celebrate on both the 11th and 12th of October. We won't tell you how young we turned though ;-)
It was a great excuse for the 6 of us to have dinner and to play some games together two days in a row! We laughed plenty and managed to get distracted from the storm for a little bit. Hopefully joining our birthdays will become a new tradition for when the days are shorter, colder and when the island becomes home for over 2 months to only a handful of us.


We have had some really good sightings this autumn including Grey Phalarope, Barred Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Red-backed Shrike, Black Redstart, Pectoral Sandpiper, Wryneck, Firecrest, Whooper Swans, Yellow-browed Warbler and some very high counts of Swallows reaching nearly 10000 birds in one day. There was an amazing count of 10 predatory bird species made on the 28th of September. On that day we spotted Merlin, Peregrine, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Barn Owl, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Buzzard, Goshawk and Red Kite. It was a brilliant day full of great bird species.

stunning Firecrest, which also happened to be ringed

Grey Phalarope - picture of a picture, by Joe by me


Here is our very last Manx Shearwater chick, which by the way is still just over 530g heavy. We really hope that it can fly fast (quoting Martyna here ;-)) and will make its way safely to Argentina, or somewhere close at least. The guys from OxNav have worked really hard on their project and we are very happy that we can assist with their data collection now that they have gone back home. I strongly believe that this very last manxie deserves a name. We are open for suggestions:)

How about Sticky? It's been fed by the parents for so long.. I call it good parenting ;-) our lovely late chick Sticky

And just to finish off, it is getting colder and wetter out there. Autumn and winter can be somewhat demotivating so make sure you laugh and enjoy yourselves lots. Please stay warm and look after each other. Life is better when we spread love to everyone.