Sunday, 11 July 2021

Comings and goings

It's all change on the island this week. Yesterday, we farewelled our LTVs Becca and Samanta, whose three and a half months on Skomer seem to have flown by. When they arrived back in the beginning of April, two duvets, thermals and hot water bottles were the order of the day - by July they'd at least ditched the thermals, and even ventured a dip in the sea in their final days here! 

A final swim!

They've been invaluable members of the team and have got stuck into every aspect of island work - from species monitoring to vegetation management, from hostel cleaning to welcome talks. We are grateful for their enthusiasm and hard graft - be they covered in mud after Manx shearwater census work, slightly green from choppy seas, or beset by bracken allergies. Outside of work, we've also enjoyed film nights, some shockingly bad games of frisbee, and exceptional baked goods. They've each written a bit for the blog about their time on the island (read Becca's farewell post here | read Samanta's farewell post here), so we won't write much more here, other than to thank them for their work and company, and to wish them all the best for the future. Pob lwc!

Becca assisting with razorbill chick ringing

Samanta scything

Week 1: carpentry with Leighton

Muddy work fuelled by biscuits

We've also said a heartfelt goodbye and thank you to guillemot fieldworker Julie, who will soon return to Australia after eight years and seven seasons on Skomer. Over the years, Jules has shown incredible dedication to her work as well as enhancing the island experience for all those who shared it with her. The 'heart of the research kitchen', she'll be very much missed. 

Pudding al fresco

A boat trip spotting Manxies

Showing the ropes

It's not all goodbyes though - time for some hellos! We are excited to welcome Ed Betteridge to the team as a long-term volunteer (LTV) for the second half of the season. Ed might well be familiar to some of you - he's been visiting the island as a weekly volunteer since 2016, and volunteered for four weeks last year when it was closed to the public. In his first 24 hours, he's been covered in poo and vomit whilst ringing gulls, has cleaned toilets, carried bags, and delivered his first welcome talks in the pouring rain - all with a smile on his face. We'll hear more from Ed soon - watch this space. 

One slightly soggy LTV!

In the meantime, the guillemots and razorbills are also leaving Skomer, as the brave jumpling chicks take the leap into the sea. Kittiwakes will be here for a few weeks more though, filling the cliffs with their distinctive call. On the high grassy ledges at the tops of cliffs you might spot fulmars with chicks, who will soon be left alone for parts of the day by the adults - they are well-equipped for self-defense, as they will projectile vomit on anything that comes too near. Manxies and puffins are both on chicks (check out our burrow-cam footage of a Manx shearwater with its chick here). Sharp-eyed visitors in July might spot pufflings emerging from their burrows for a wing-flap and a look around. We're making the most of our seabirds whilst we can - sight, sound and smell... 

- Ceris, Assistant Warden

Can't make it to Skomer just now? - We'll be doing our best to bring the island to you, in a new series of #SkomerLIVE, running from the 19th-23rd July at 6pm each evening. Tune in here

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