The end of February is the usual time for the Skomer wardens to return to the island and start preparations for the season ahead. There’s a slightly uneasy feel about what we are returning to… a few years ago there was storm damage to buildings and last year it was burst pipes in the hostel!
This year new wardens Sylwia and Nathan along with assistant warden Sarah K and visitor officer Sarah J arrived back on the island at the end of February on a lovely calm sunny day… just as well as the next day the weather turned and we had stormy conditions for the following two weeks! Thankfully the buildings are mostly undamaged so we could get on with cleaning, decorating and path clearing!
There are good and not so good jobs to do when we arrive back. Its lovely having our island back and checking out how the wildlife is doing. We join in with a Pembrokeshire coordinated hen harrier roost count in early March, have a friendly Pembrokeshire island contest with our neighbours Skokholm and Ramsey for the first wheatear back and again get used to falling asleep to the nightly calling of Manx shearwaters as they return to the island. The guillemots, razorbills fulmars and kittiwakes are already back on the cliffs, and we are seeing short eared owls every day too. Of course the return of the puffins always causes some excitement and this year they have returned earlier than ever and in huge numbers… could it be another record year for puffins on Skomer?
There isn’t too much time for birdwatching though as we have our work cut out getting ready for opening on 2nd April. The island’s buildings suffer over winter from a lack of habitation and there will always be plenty of cleaning to do. One of our least favourite jobs in the spring is the digging out the compost loos… ‘island living’ is not always idyllic! A work party have been on for a week to help dig a new septic tank at North Haven and the first volunteers will arrived on 24th March.
Tractor Fundraising Appeal
Finally we have to mention that our island tractor (affectionately known as ‘Trundle’… not the speediest mover!). He is a real work horse and we use him virtually every day for transporting visitor’s luggage as well as launching the boat and being general island dog’s body. 17 years on the island has taken its toll and he is now failing and we desperately need a new tractor to help us with the general running of the reserve. The Friends of Skokholm and Skomer have set up a crowdfunding appeal to help raise money to buy a new tractor and if you would like to help us please check out out JustGiving page, we are very grateful for any support.
Finally, we are really looking forward to a great season on Skomer and hope to see you all soon!
For more information about how you can visit Skomer, take a look at our website.