Posts tagged Guillemot
It was over a year ago that we put our names down to be volunteers on Skomer Island so when we received a call to ask if we’d like to take up two cancelled places we jumped at the chance.
Leaving the Euro 2012 sporting extravaganza behind us, two weeks after our call we set sail for a week that guaranteed some world-class British wildlife performances.
Since confirming our places, we kept an eye on the weather every day in the run up to leaving. Despite keeping everything crossed, it came as little surprise to hear that the boat wouldn’t be sailing on Saturday morning due to bad weather.
We happily ambled down to the far western point of South Wales through Saturday afternoon and sampled the delights of Marloes pub grub (where you’ll be challenged to ever find better new potatoes!) and camped that evening.
We were ready for the ‘Dale Princess’ boat to ferry us over Jack Sound from Martin’s Haven to Skomer bright and early on Sunday morning. The one mile journey took no time at all and we were welcomed by the resident gull flying alongside the boat. We knew we’d arrived as soon as we drifted into the swathes of seabirds bobbing on the water and flying overhead as we entered the picture-perfect bay.
The beauty of the island immediately felt mesmerising. Even lugging our bags of food and clothes up the (97 step) climb to the visitor checkpoint was an exhilarating experience – quite literally taking our breath away!
The beautiful cliffs of layered blacks, greys and oranges engulf you the minute you enter the bay but it’s the multitude of birds that really make you smile. From the moment you near Skomer you see the puffins – the party-piece, tuxedoed “sea parrots” that everyone knows and generally comes to Skomer to see. They are literally everywhere you look! But there’s also so much more to see…
The first thing you notice, and last thing you miss when you leave, is the cacophony of noise all the birds make. Amongst the 10,000 plus puffins, there are over 17,000 guillemots and more than 2,000 kittiwakes nesting in the cliffs around the island. As well as watching the fulmars and jackdaws dancing on the breeze over the week, we were fortunate enough to see plenty of chicks being fed, including a nesting razorbill family to auk at as soon as we hopped off the boat.
On Sunday we settled into our lodgings at The Farm and unpacked our food with our fellow volunteers then went straight to work on our daily tasks in the afternoon. One of our favourite jobs on the rota was “island patrol” where the idea was to cover as much of the 2.92 km² island as possible to check everything was as it should be (ie no litter and that visitors were keeping to paths and had answers to their questions) and to look out for what wildlife was present.
The warden’s place – shame about the noisy neighbours!
That evening we went down to the warden’s digs at North Haven for “bird log” where we had to report all wildlife seen that day. Our more experienced fellow volunteers (who were on return visits) were more clued up than we were and had a lot more types and numbers of birds to log. Though the next day we were glad to know what to look out for and where!
Below are some photos we captured during our stay…
Puffin waiting for the storm
Dancing lesser black backed gull
See more in Part Two…