Bore da a croeso i ynys Skomer.
Fy enw i yw Samanta. Volunteer dwi.
I am Samanta, along with Becca I am one of the long-term volunteers (LTVs) on Skomer Island this season.
|Carrying out repairs on our Bull Hole research hide © Ceris Aston|
By now, all start of season maintenance has been completed, and we are fully into the visitor season. It is really great to see so many people returning to the island, although those who have had the pleasure of visiting us this year will know there have been a couple of changes. Like in all previous years it is super important not to stray from the path due to the island’s extensive burrow network, but we have had to implement a counter-clockwise one way system to allow everyone to remain covid safe whilst sticking to those all-important paths.
The island at the moment is covered in a frosting of sea campion and a sea of bluebells. Our puffins and Manx shearwaters are currently on eggs, whitethroat and sedge warblers are calling, and our first razorbill and guillemot eggs have been laid. Swifts, swallows and sand martins have been seen passing through, with some swallows even taking up residence at the farm.
|A frosting of sea campion © Ceris Aston|
|A sea of bluebells © Beth Thompson|
For me, like for so many others, Skomer is a special place. I have visited twice as a day visitor and I am really excited to be living here for the next couple of months. Before arriving on the island I was working on a TV documentary called Wonders of the Celtic Deep, exploring the Welsh coastline and bringing our native wildlife into living rooms across the country - but actually being here on the island is something else. I am super passionate about the natural world, and how these special places are managed. The warden team has been especially helpful in mentoring me on practical volunteering such as repairing the research hides and boardwalks, but it has been in areas of birding that I have grown tremendously.
I think I am finally starting to realise what the difference between someone who enjoys nature and a birder is. I have been learning to actively look out for the birds around me, and record what I see so it can be entered into Skomer’s long term bird log, and I am starting to appreciate the excitement of seeing a new species for the first time. I have a bird list, and I want to add to it, and the only way I am going to do so is by concentrating on what I see and hear, truly seeing and hearing instead of taking the ordinary for granted, because you never know when a rarity is going to appear.
A big part of my responsibilities here when I am not welcoming guests off the boats is surveying our breeding bird population, whether that is our seabirds, waders or passerines. Passerine monitoring is through Breeding Bird Surveys – this means sunrise walks every ten days along a set route and recording everything I see and hear. I also make daily trips to the razorbill cliffs at Bull Hole to keep an eye on who is who, and who has an egg.
|Razorbills (Alca torda) at North Haven © Ceris Aston|
Alongside this bird watching, I am carrying out a mini project mapping the habitats of Pembrokeshire’s last breeding curlews. We have at least 3 territories on the centre of the island, and I am watching for any breeding behaviour that will give a deeper insight into the lives of this ‘conservation priority’ species. All in all it has been a fabulous experience so far, I am learning a lot from the team and there is still almost 2 months for me to learn even more about this most enchanting of islands!
Samanta, Long Term Volunteer