Trip to Skomer!

After six months of no posts I think this one is a good one to restart them with! Unfortunately after Christmas my husband was diagnosed with cancer and it’s been a roller coaster of a ride but we are out the other side just about, a major operation and everyday visits to Poole Hospital for radiotherapy treatment did not allow me much time or inclination to write my blog although I have still enjoyed the wildlife and the changing seasons around home as I took the dogs for a walk, I can’t believe we are into July already!

Anyway onto Skomer. The trip to Skomer was arranged well before Christmas with two friends, so it became touch and go whether I could make it at the end of June but Rod, my husband, wanted me to go and he felt he was well enough to be left for a couple of nights with backup on the end of the phone and neighbours. We went the day before we were booked for our visit to Skomer and came back the day after, as it was quite a drive across the Severn to the tip of the Pembrokeshire coast. We stayed in in a farmhouse B&B overlooking St.Brides bay which had amazing views and the weather was lovely with hardly any wind and sunshine all the way!

Evening light over St Brides bay
Evening light over St Brides bay

We were booked to go over to Skomer at 12 o’clock and we would have about 5 hours on the island. It was only a 15 minute boat trip so we were soon standing at the bottom of some very steep steps that would take us up on the island. We already had seen birds in the water and as we climbed the steps plenty more but we were told we we see many more, and we certainly did. What a fantastic experience. We headed for the centre of the island and then headed to an area called The Wick. There was an inlet into the top of the cliffs and the Puffin Burrows and there were hundreds flying in and out! We had to keep to the paths of course due all the burrows and not to disturb the birds. It was amazing that they just accepted the people watching them often crossing the path to get to their burrows, so close, what great little characters they are it felt like a privilege to be in their world for a short time.

The first survey of the year in March counted 42,513 Puffins, the highest since the island counts began in the late 1980s, which is good news, everywhere you looked there were burrows and Puffins bringing in Sand Eels for their mate or for a Puffling, each pair has only one and the parents have to battle with the gulls to get back to the nest with a catch, sadly we saw a gull take a Puffling which was upsetting but that’s nature for you.

I’ve done a short video on my phone in slow motion to show all the action. As for the photography they fly very fast and I had to be quick to get pictures of them in flight!

Those five hours went by so quickly with taking photographs and just enjoying the spectacle. Although we went mainly for the Puffins we did see many other birds, Guillimots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Oyster Catchers, various Gulls and many smaller birds like Wrens, Stonechats, Wheatears but I have to admit I was too busy watching Puffins. One bird we knew we would not see and that was the Manx Shearwaters of which there are 350,000 breeding pairs on Skomer, they are nocturnal only moving from their burrows in the night to avoid predators but we did hear them in their burrows, which was very special.

We also saw a couple of seals way down from the cliffs.

What a wonderful day by the time we got down the steps to the boat all of us agreed that we were shattered but very happy, I’m so glad I made it!

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