Tuesday 20 April 2021

A Canvas of Blue and Green

Over the past few weeks, there have been a few new faces slowly familiarising themselves with the winding footpaths around Skomer Island. On the 1st of April, the island’s resident (human) population boomed from two to five (!), with our new Visitor Officer and Long Term Volunteers Becca and Samanta making the crossing from Martin’s Haven. The team were also joined by our Head of Islands and Marine, Lisa, and her partner Dave, for some much appreciated voluntary support at this early point in the season. Eleven days later, in what very much seemed like the blink of an eye, the resident population saw yet another jump! This time the team were joined by our new fieldworker Freya, and researchers Jules and Josie from Herriot Watt and Gloucester universities respectively.

Learning the winding footpaths of Skomer © Ceris Aston

You will hear more from the rest of the team over the next few weeks. But for now, it is probably best that I introduce myself! So, hello (su'mae!) – my name is Beth, and I’ll be the new Skomer Island Visitor Officer for 2021!

Crossing over to the island was a somewhat surreal experience. Having never visited Skomer before, and indeed having only seen some of the island’s most well-known inhabitants, puffins, once on a somewhat wet and grey day in Scotland; I was not quite sure what to expect! For those of you who have made the journey across yourselves, you will be familiar with rounding the corner out of Martin’s Haven to a canvas of blue and green (or perhaps, knowing the Welsh weather, grey!). We were greeted on our arrival by Leighton and Ceris, our Warden and Assistant Warden, as well as a number of rather curious seals, an array of auks – razors, guillies and, of course, puffins - and more fulmars than I have ever seen in my entire life!

Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) at The Wick © Beth Thompson

Northern fulmar at Garland Stone (Fulmarus glacialis) © Beth Thompson

Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) over North Pond © Beth Thompson

Red-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) at Skomer Head © Beth Thompson 

I had been warned in advance of the infamous ninety steps that must be scaled from the landing stage – now feeling rather familiar with these steps, I find myself wondering if there are actually more than ninety?! Having narrowly avoided throwing any of our luggage or food unceremoniously into a rockpool, we made our way up to our new home.

Sunset over the Farm © Beth Thompson

Sunset at North Pond © Beth Thompson

Time seems to have run away with us since then. I find it incredibly difficult to believe that, upon writing this, we’ve been settling in to our new island home for over two weeks! In that time we’ve carried out our first breeding bird surveys of the year, cleared the remainder of the landslide at North Haven, repaired several boardwalks around the island, scrubbed and painted hostel rooms, and baked (with varying degrees of success!) more loaves of bread than I’m willing to admit! It’s been an absolute whirlwind – filled mostly with sunshine, blue skies, incredible wildlife, and a whole lot of laughter!

Beth delivering 'as much flour as you can carry!' © Ceris Aston

Clearing the landslide at North Haven © Ceris Aston 

Gator chat © Ceris Aston

We really cannot wait to be able to share Skomer with you all once again, hopefully very soon.

Until next time. Wela i di wedyn!

Beth, Visitor Officer