Author: Lyndsey Maiden

Thank you for your interest in volunteering on Skomer!

Without its weekly volunteers, Skomer simply couldn’t operate.

Volunteers play an important part in visitor management and engagement, assisting with morning and afternoon visitor boats and undertaking island patrols. They are also responsible for daily cleaning of the hostel and the compost toilets.

Weekly volunteers also get involved in monitoring, including reptile transects and cetacean surveys.

On days when visitor boats aren’t running, they get stuck in with a variety of island maintenance and habitat management tasks – from painting to scything, from fencing to making and mending.

Applications for weekly volunteering on Skomer are currently closed but will reopen on the 1st September. The deadline to return applications will be the 1st October.

Hope to hear from you then – many thanks.

If you’d like to hear first hand what it’s like to be a volunteer on Skomer, watch our latest video where we chat to Sally, Becca and Jan about their time with us!

Skomer Online Booking System – Launch Date!

A path of bluebells on Skomer Island

We are delighted to announce that the new pre-booking system for Skomer Island day visits will be LIVE from Tuesday 13th April 2021!

The need to manage the flow of visitors safely through our Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) Lockley Lodge Visitor Centre at Martin’s Haven and onwards to Skomer Island has led to the introduction of an online booking system.

Impacts on Skomer Island booking of social distancing

As the need for social distancing continues traditional queues at WTSWW’s Lockley Lodge must be discouraged and it is hoped that by ensuring tickets are purchased in advance the queues will not materialise. Guests will still be able to visit Lockley Lodge (SA62 3BJ) as they will need to ‘check-in’ at least one hour before their allocated departure time.

Limited numbers

At the time of writing it is clear that fewer people will be allowed on each boat and this will reduce the overall number of visitors to the island on any one day. Tickets will not be transferrable or allowed for resale and there will be a maximum number of 6 tickets available per customer. 

Requirements for larger numbers of tickets will be dealt with on a case by case basis, please contact islands@welshwildlife.org for further information. Please note that this email address is not monitored daily so please allow time for a response.

Buy your tickets online

Tickets can be booked through the Pembrokeshire Islands website where further information is available. Sailings will commence when Welsh Government guidance allows.

Wild Wales Wildlife Adventures – Skomer Island

WTSWW’s penultimate Wild Wales Wildlife Adventure video is here and features Skomer Island. If you’re looking for a #WildAdventure this summer why not visit …

Read more about Overnight Guests Updates

Free Landing Membership Benefit

The Dale Princess leaves for the day

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales has suffered a considerable loss of income during the 2020/2021 season. The effects of the Coronavirus pandemic have been dramatic and the Trust has not been left unscathed by the impact of the virus, with cost cutting and some loss of valued staff as a result.

Our commitment to and delivery of conservation has continued during the pandemic with much of our conservation delivery fortunately unaffected.

This has only been possible with the membership subscriptions and many kind, generous donations from our members. We have been humbled by the generosity of many of our supporters throughout this difficult time when many have experienced sadness and loss of their own.

One of the few ways in recent years that we have been able to recognise your support and kindness was to offer free landing on Skomer island. The free landing benefit always represented an erosion of our charitable income but was sustainable and a benefit that we have been committed to offer.

Change to benefits

The significant amount of income lost during the last financial year and the projected further loss of income in the 2021/22 financial year does mean that we will sadly be forced to temporarily remove this benefit. This decision was difficult and not been taken lightly and the Trust remains committed to re-instating it for next season on the clear assumption that income returns to a more normal level.

Skomer Sunrise
Skomer Sunrise

Our member’s support for the charity has always been altruistic rather than transactional and whilst we do recognise that the temporary removal of the free landing benefit will be upsetting for some we do feel that safeguarding the finances, future and work of the charity for this next uncertain year is paramount.

We are confident that your continuing support will enable us to maintain our delivery of conservation on Skomer, Skokholm and our land based reserves during these difficult times.

Skomer Overnight Guest Update

Skomer accommodation block

Overnight visits during April on both Skokholm and Skomer have been cancelled and guests notified by post. We are hoping that as the vaccination programme and restrictions in movement continue that we will be able to offer guests their stays during the later part of the season.

Disruption during the earlier months is a possibility and our ability to accommodate people will depend on the relaxation of restrictions and our ability to ensure that people can enjoy a safe stay. The accommodation is shared and clearly this will have a bearing on our ability to open in a safe and secure manner.

Following Welsh Government guidance

We have a number of plans for differing scenarios and these will be implemented when guidance is available from the Welsh Government. The guidance we receive comes no earlier than the guidance issued to the general public. We thank our prospective guests for their understanding during this period when advice is neither clear nor comprehensive.

Emails regarding accommodation will be answered but we urge guests to note the latest Government advice and bear this in mind when enquiring about our opening schedule as we are all equally appraised.

Skomer accommodation block
Accommodation on Skomer Island

Management Planning

Management planning guide by Mike Alexander

This is a simple step by step guide; it contains limited historical and other background information on management planning.

This is a guide. It is not a workshop manual or rule book. It is a source of advice, which should be used intelligently. No two sites or situations are exactly the same, and the advice given in this guide should be adapted or modified to meet the needs of any given circumstance.

Nature conservation management is not a science, but successful or effective conservation is entirely dependent on good science. Conservation mangers will often rely on the methods of science. Conservation management is the application of science and knowledge to achieve desirable outcomes. In addition to the objectivity of scientists, conservation managers require practical and communication skills: these are usually achieved through experience. Managers must be prepared to compromise and rely on judgement, as many of their decisions are based on limited information. (Bailey 1982).

You can download the full resource below

A guide to management planning by Mike Alexander

Management planning is the intellectual or ‘thinking’ component of the conservation management process. It is a dynamic, iterative process, it is about recognising the things that are important and making decisions about what we want to achieve and what we must do. Planning is about sharing this process with others so that we can reach agreement; it is about communication; it is about learning. Planning must be rather more about thinking and less about the production of elaborate, verbose documents. Planning should always come before management.

This resource is free and being made available to help anyone help wildlife, however if you are able to make a donation this helps protect even more wildlife.

Please Donate Now

Cardigan Golf Donation

Cardigan-Golf-Donation

Each year Cardigan Golf Club Lady Captain choses a charity to support and as this years Lady Captain, Pam Perry chose The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales – WTSWW as her charity for the year.

A fantastic £171 was raised in donations for WTSWW by the lady members during Lady Captain’s Day.

On Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre’s penultimate day before closing for the 2020 season our Living Seas Manager, Dr Sarah Perry was able to accept the donation on behalf of CBMWC and The Trust.

We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to Cardigan Golf Club Ladies section for supporting our vital marine conservation work in Cardigan Bay.

Pam has always been interested in the environment and in all types of wildlife.

Pam explained “when I became Lady Captain of Cardigan Golf Club it felt natural to pick WTSWW when choosing my charity for the year. I wanted to give a different type charity the benefit of any donations and help to raise awareness of the local marine environment.

Supporting the Trust in this way was also a fantastic opportunity to find out more about the local marine wildlife in the area”.

Finned, Flippered and feathered friends

Dolphins in Cardigan Bay Copyright Sarah Perry

 Dolphins in Cardigan Bay Copyright Sarah Perry

Bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay © Sarah Perry

I sit at my home office desk, looking out at a bright blue sky, not a cloud in the sky. It’s days like
these when the sun is shining, and the sea is flat calm that I really miss being out on the water in
Cardigan Bay.

Previously as a volunteer and now as part of my work with WTSWW I would ordinarily have been fortunate enough to spend time out on the water monitoring the marine wildlife that we see. This includes the internationally important population of bottlenose dolphins that we find off the Welsh coast, Atlantic grey seals, harbour porpoises as well as a multitude of seabirds nesting along the coastline. For me this is the first year since 2003 that I haven’t been able to do this. And it is the first year in almost 25 years that Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) hasn’t been able to collect vital marine monitoring data.

Cardigan Bay Copyright Sarah Perry

Ceredigion coastline © Sarah Perry

Although I am sure, the last few months during lockdown have provided some much needed respite for nature, in certain areas at least. It appears that wildlife has enjoyed some breathing space from human activity, less car and boat traffic and fewer people have meant that we could enjoy the bird song all around us without even trying and the sea around our coasts and around the world have been much quieter.

Seal in Cardigan Bay Copyright Sarah Perry

Atlantic grey seal in Cardigan Bay © Sarah Perry

Having said that it’s not the case for all wildlife in all areas. In some parts of the world wildlife poaching has been rife in areas where the pandemic has led to reduced patrols and closer to home there has been a surge in anti-social behaviour on our nature reserves particularly since lockdown restrictions began to ease. It is also concerning the amount of litter that is starting to accumulate on our shores and beaches. Just when we were doing so well at becoming more environmentally aware, reducing our use of single use plastic, refusing, reusing, reducing and recycling we are having to consider using single use items such as face masks and gloves to remain safe and healthy and litter is once again appearing on the ground.

litter in Cardigan Bay Copyright Sarah Perry

litter in Cardigan Bay Copyright Sarah Perry

Concern also lies with the continued easing of lockdown, not only for our health and wellbeing but for the potential for disturbance. We must remember to be mindful of our surroundings once again and be particularly careful not to disturb wildlife. It’s important that we all play our part in helping to ensure wildlife remains undisturbed and our green and blue spaces remain litter free, as the phrase states “leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs”.

When the time is right, I look forward to heading back out on the water to resume our long term marine wildlife surveys and to catching up with old finned, flippered and feathered friends!

The Covid-19 pandemic poses many threats to both humans and wildlife, conservation organisation like WTSWW struggle for funding. Looking after our natural world has become harder than ever during the pandemic please consider making a donation to support our marine conservation work now and for the future.

Dr Sarah Perry, Living Seas Manager, The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales

WTSWW Publications and Reports 2019

Conservation Team

Conservation Team Report 2018-19 (6 Mb)

Islands

Skokholm Seabird Report 2019 (5.82 Mb)

Skomer Seabird Report 2019 (3 Mb)

2019 Skomer Seal Report (9 Mb)

Site use and connectivity of female Grey Seals around Wales (2 Mb)

Projects and Reports

Badger Vaccination report Castle Woods 2019 (0.6 Mb)

Academic Papers relating to WTSWW’s work or nature reserves

Arneill, G.E., Perrins, C.M., Wood, M.J., Murphy, D., Pisani, L., Jessopp, M.J.n & Quinn, J.L (2019) Sampling strategies for species with high breeding-site fidelity: A case study in burrow-nesting seabirds. Plos One https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0221625. Link.

Birkhead, T. R., Thompson, J. E., Biggins, J. D. and Montgomerie, R. (2019), The evolution of egg shape in birds: selection during the incubation period. Ibis, 161: 605-618. doi:10.1111/ibi.12658. Link.

Guilford, T., Padget, O., Bond, S., & Syposz, M. M. (2019). Light pollution causes object collisions during local nocturnal manoeuvring flight by adult Manx Shearwaters Puffinus puffinus. Seabird, 31, 48–55. Link.

Nelms, SE, Parry, HE, Bennett, KA, et al. What goes in, must come out: Combining scat‐based molecular diet analysis and quantification of ingested microplastics in a marine top predator. Methods Ecol Evol. 2019; 10: 17121722. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13271. Link.

Padget, O., Stanley, G., Willis, J.K., Fayet, A.L., Bond, S., Maurice, L., Shoji, A., Dean, B., Kirk, H., Juarez-Martinez, I., Freeman, R., Bolton, M & Guilford, T. (2019) Shearwaters know the direction and distance home but fail to encode intervening obstacles after free-ranging foraging trips. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Oct 2019, 201903829; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1903829116. Link.

Shepard, E., Cole, E., Neate, A., Lempidakis, E. & Ross, A. (2019). Wind prevents cliff-breeding birds from accessing nests through loss of flight control. eLife 2019;8:e43842. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.43842. Link.

Thaxter, CB, Ross‐Smith, VH, Bouten, W, et al. Avian vulnerability to wind farm collision through the year: Insights from lesser black‐backed gulls (Larus fuscus) tracked from multiple breeding colonies. J Appl Ecol. 2019; 00: 113. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.13488. Link.

Trevail, A.M., Green, J. A., Sharples, J. , Polton, J. A., Arnould, J. P. and Patrick, S. C. (2019), Environmental heterogeneity amplifies behavioural response to a temporal cycle. Oikos, 128: 517-528. Link.

Trevail, A.M., Green, J.A., Sharples, J., Polton, J.A., Miller, P.I., Daunt, F., Owen, E., Bolton, M., Colhoun, K., Newton, S., Robertson, G & Patrick, S.C. (2019) Proc. R. Soc. 286 http://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.0795. Link.

 

New report State of Nature 2019

State of Nature header showing decline in wildlife

State of Nature header showing decline in wildlife

No let-up in loss of Wales’ nature

Wales’ wildlife continues to decline according to the State of Nature 2019 report, with the latest findings showing that one in six species in Wales are at risk of extinction. Since rigorous scientific monitoring began in the 1970s, there’s been a 13% decline in average abundance across wildlife studied across the UK.

The State of Nature 2019 report reveals that of the 3,902 species assessed in Wales, 73 have been lost from Wales already, with birds like turtle doves and corn buntings now gone from Wales’ skies. A further 666 species are threatened with extinction in Wales.

Read more on our State of Nature Page

Shear brilliance for Pembrokeshire’s islands!

Manx-Shearwater---Dave-Boyle

Manx-Shearwater---Dave-Boyle

Manx Shearwater by Dave Boyle

Three small islands off the coast of Pembrokeshire are flying high this month, as the latest seabird census results indicate that they are now home to more than 50 per cent of the world’s entire Manx shearwater population.

It’s estimated that nearly a million breeding Manx shearwater adults reside on Skomer, Skokholm and Middleholm based on the monitoring work by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW), the National Trust and the University of Oxford and University of Gloucestershire.

The survey was part of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee’s Seabirds Count census, and took place in June 2018.

It required a careful approach as Manx shearwaters nest in burrows, meaning the team had to watch their footing to ensure minimum disturbance to the fragile nests.

The monitoring work involved playing the seabird’s social call, which had been pre-recorded on an audio device, into a sample of burrows across the three islands. If a bird responded to the call then the burrow was recorded as active as part of the survey.

The census finished and on the boat back to Skomer by Ed Stubbings

The census finished and on the boat back to Skomer by Ed Stubbings

“It was a privilege to be part of the team who, by using a survey method which encouraged a higher proportion of nesting birds to make themselves known than ever before, helped to produce our best estimate yet of how many pairs of this remarkable seabird breed on these islands,” enthused Richard Brown and Giselle Eagle, wardens on WTSWW’s Skokholm Island.

Results suggest that there are nearly half-a-million breeding pairs in total across the internationally-important islands, with 89,000 on WTSWW’s Skokholm Island, 350,000 on WTSWW’s Skomer Island and 16,000 on Middleholm.

Speaking about the overall findings, the University of Gloucestershire’s Matt Wood, who helped coordinate the census, said: “Seabirds are in such trouble globally so this is great news internationally, not just in Wales – nearly a million breeding adults on these three small islands, and if you include the teenagers hanging around nearby and the chicks in their burrows in August you can almost double that number.

“That’s well over half the entire world’s population of Manx shearwaters, and it looks like they’re increasing steadily here.”

For the National Trust, the data is especially exciting for Middleholm as area ranger James Roden explained: “The 2018 census on Middleholm was the first time in 20 years that Manx shearwaters have been recorded on the tiny island, and it’s great to see that the population is much larger than we first thought.

“We hope to carry on working closely with the Wildlife Trust on more monitoring projects in the future, as well as towards the continued conservation work on Middleholm.”

The view across to Skomer Island from the top of Middleholm by James Roden

The view across to Skomer Island from the top of Middleholm by James Roden

 

The monitoring work was made possible through funding support from Natural Resources Wales, The Seabird Group, The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and National Trust.