On 1st March, myself, Ceris and Beth moved back out to Skomer for the start of the 2022 season. There was, as usual, a huge amount of kit, including a months’ worth of food for three people! After dropping Skokholm off on the way, we made it to a slightly choppy North Haven and began unloading bags, aware that the afternoon was drawing in.
|Just a fraction of our kit, at the top of North Haven steps © Skomer VO|
One key thing to do on moving day is to check the buildings for damage from the winter storms. This year it was extra worrying, with Skomer having been in the firing line of storm Eunice. Thankfully, however, the buildings remained relatively unscathed, apart from a few lost roof tiles, a chimney cap and the internet dish at the Farm.
Things were somewhat more of a rush this year, however, as we were joined on the 4th by a team of four from Rock Engineering who will be working on Skomer for the next few weeks to secure the cliff collapse above the boat shed.
|Barge delivery at North Haven Beach © Skomer Assistant Warden|
Up early for a delivery of equipment, we witnessed the mass arrival of auks on to the cliffs. Starting just after sunrise, birds began swirling and rafting in North Haven, and just an hour later, the cliffs were seemingly full. Birds appeared to be occupying previously un-occupied ledges and the cliffs were seemingly bursting with both Razorbills and Guillemots.
|A pair of razorbills © Skomer Assistant Warden|
It seems a common theme from last year to this year, that one of the first birds we see when landing on Skomer, is a Red Kite. A previously scarce bird on Skomer, the number of records keep increasing every year.
We saw our first Puffins of the year on the 10th with 40 rafting offshore. Numbers have fluctuated since, however, 2,490 including hundreds on land in North Haven on the 15th was quite the sight.
|Our first puffins, spotted off North Haven © Skomer Warden|
The first truly settled warm day really jolted the breeding birds into action and stepping outside the house shortly after sunrise the song of Meadow Pipits and Wrens filled the air. Skylark, after a few blank years, are currently singing in the center of the island too.
We have also witnessed the first Ravens nest building, with a bird making repeated trips to the beach in North Haven, scavenging washed up debris, and flying straight into Matthews Wick, the same site as 2021.
|Monitoring ravens at Pigstone Bay, using our new Leica scope © Skomer VO|
On the 13th we were lucky enough to witness the Northern Lights from Skomer; knowing that a ‘solar storm’ was on its way, sitting out on the cliffs under the starry sky didn’t seem like a bad prospect.
|The Northern Lights from Bull Hole © Skomer Warden|
We are due to have our first volunteers of the year on the 19th and there’s still lots to be done before opening on the 1st April. The next couple of weeks will involve lots of path maintenance, painting and decorating!
We look forward to seeing you all soon.