Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Spring has sprung...

It’s a time of firsts over here on the island: first chicks, first wildflowers, and the first days digging out the long-buried suncream!

Raven carrying food (in this case, a Manx shearwater) back to the nest © Skomer Volunteer Warden

Our earliest breeding birds, ravens, were already building their nests when we returned to Skomer back in March. Now, two months on, adults ferrying food back-and-forth to feed their hungry chicks has become a familiar sight, particularly across North Valley. We’ve also seen signs that some of our smaller passerines may now have chicks, with blackbirds and rock pipits having been seen carrying food in the past week. Meanwhile on Moorey Mere, a plump (the collective noun!) of moorhen chicks have been spotted trailing their parents amongst the vegetation.

Razorbills mating at the Amos © Skomer VO

On the cliffs our first guillemot (21.04.22) and razorbill (25.04.22) eggs have been laid, spotted by eagle-eyed fieldworkers Kirsty and Freya. Research also continues by Oxford Navigation Group down at North Haven, who discovered our first Manx shearwater egg of the season last Monday (25.04.22).

Chough monitoring near the Amos with our new Leica scope © Skomer VO

Monitoring work also continues with our more elusive species. Chough continue to evade us at various sites around the island. Four pairs have now been seen quivering and feeding one another, a good indicator of breeding. A further three locations are being carefully watched, after individuals were spotted carrying sticks.

Curlew calling over North Pond, one of the suspected territories for 2022 © Skomer Assistant Warden

Towards the centre of the island, our curlew (the last breeding pairs in Pembrokeshire) have been seen divebombing crows and gulls, as they defend their precious territories. Close by, skylarks have been filling the sky with their beautiful song – now noted on three consecutive breeding bird surveys. If successful, this will be, excitingly, the first time skylarks have bred on Skomer since 2017.

Sea campion at High Cliff © Skomer VO
Bluebells blossoming over North Valley Rise © Skomer VO

Closer to the ground, Skomer’s wildflowers are coming into full bloom. The south side of the island, particularly near High Cliff, has been covered in a carpet of sea campion since mid-April – quite the sight (and smell) to behold. However, to the north, what was initially a few specks of blue / purple is now becoming an expanse, with bluebells covering much of North Valley Rise.

Sunset from Garland Stone © Skomer VO
Wick sunset with puffins, after our monthly rabbit counts © Skomer VO

With the weather improving, and wildflowers blooming everywhere we look, it is very much beginning to feel like the start of summer.

Volunteers (L-R: Karen, Jean, and Aline) path widening at South Stream © Skomer VO

Archiving work in the library (L-R: Gruffydd, Lynn, and Martin) © Skomer VO

We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been over to visit us so far this season, and in particular to our Weekly Volunteers. With mixed weather, tasks have varied from painting to path widening. This spring there has also been a focus on archiving and cataloguing the many photo albums which have been collecting dust in the library. A real window into the past, it’s been wonderful to see how much (and indeed how little!) Skomer has changed over the years.

Until next time. Wela i di wedyn!

Beth, Visitor Officer

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