Friday 10 March 2023

Back Home for 2023

We arrived back on our island home on 2nd March this year, a day later than 2022 only delayed by northerly winds on the 1st.

The front of a boat loading with luggage. Skomer is visible in the background.
Crossing over to Skomer on Wave Dancer - thanks Dale Sailing! © Skomer VO
The first thing to note was that the steps haven’t gotten any easier and we don’t seem to be able to pack any lighter. Having said that, within two hours we were at the top, bags and all and heading to the buildings to check for damage and get the vehicles started (first time for both!).

Two people eating biscuits surrounded by bags and boxes. The shadow of a third person can be seen.
A quick biscuit break halfway through moving boxes up the steps © Skomer Warden

Dumper truck loaded with luggage.
A fully loaded dumper ready to head up to the Farm © Skomer VO

Having spent the winter not in the UK, it’s always pleasing to hear that the weather hasn’t been too harsh and our buildings are certainly showing signs of having wintered well. The usual problems with a seized water pump seems to be the worst casualty of the winter so far – far better than arriving back to part of the roof missing at North Haven as in 2022. Internally, the buildings are also drier than usual, although they’re still cold; some things will never change.

Sunset on our first day back on Skomer © Skomer VO

Walking around on the first day it was pretty shocking how dry the island is – paths that are usually sodden and slippery were cracked and parched and there was no sign of any standing water on the main track. It looked more like a dry August than your typical March.

On our second day, the water was covered by auks; from afar resembling an oil slick with lines almost as far as you can see. Amongst the rafts in South Haven was, somewhat surprisingly, our first Puffin of the year. This is our earliest ever record beating three previous records on 6th March, most recently in 2019 and seven days earlier than the first of 2022 on the 10th March.

Our first puffin of the 2023 season, rafting with razorbills in South Haven © Skomer Warden

Over the last week we’ve been cleaning and on office work – often in front of the fire especially during the latest cold snap. On the nice afternoons we’ve been out re-widening paths, getting ready for the visitor season which is rapidly approaching.

Two people in PPE. They are giving the camera a thumbs up.
Ready to tackle the mould... © Skomer Assistant Warden

A person kneeling on a worktop painting a wall.
Painting in the Hostel © Skomer Assistant Warden
Last night (9th March) was an exciting night when we heard the first Manx shearwaters calling over North Haven. It’s been a quiet start to the year for shearwaters with the moon likely playing its part, however, last night was thick cloud and drizzle – the perfect shearwater conditions! Having been braced by the strong winds and rain yesterday morning, a warm wind blew from mid-morning which meant yesterdays temperatures fluctuated between 1˚C and 11 ˚C. Here’s hoping that the mad-March weather calms down a little and allows the passage of some migrants – a goldcrest is all we’ve had so far.

Manxies calling and wing beats in North Haven © Skomer Warden

In a weeks’ time we’ll be welcoming the first volunteers and work party of the year, so we better sign off and get things sorted for them.

Leighton, Skomer Warden.

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