2013 marks the 75th anniversary of the work of WTSWW in the west of its patch. We also welcomed new wardens on Skomer this spring, Eddie Stubbings and Bee Bueche- so it seems timely to look back to our archive for a previous warden changeover, in 1986.

West Wales Trust for Nature Conservation Bulletin No. 40, April 1986

Thank-you Michael and Rosanne! Skomer without Michael and Rosanne. Yes, I am afraid that from March 1986 this will be the case for after ten years they are leaving Skomer, Michael having been appointed area warden in Merioneth for the Nature Conservancy Council.

Mike and Roseanne Alexander leaving Skomer March 1986

Mike and Roseanne Alexander leaving Skomer March 1986

Few reading this may realise that Michael’s connections with Skomer extend back to the early 1960s, those far off days when Alf Knowles piloted the island boats and the Edward Gray Institute was still snug in Wytham Woods. The seed was set when Michael came on a school visit to Skomer. At the time the Trust was commencing its voluntary warden scheme, and Michael, together with his friend Phillip Jones came in late August 1964 as two of the first volunteers. This was the start of a series of visits which he was to make, not just for a week or two but for whole holidays.

Twenty years dims the memory, but among the highlights of his activities must be the collection of infertile Buzzards’ eggs from the nests in Amy’s reach and near the Garland Stone. In these days of Health and Safety, cliff rescue procedures and equipment it is perhaps best not to dwell on the ancestry of the rope used that day in June 1965. On a lighter note, his taste for adventure included eating roast Great Black-backed Gull, only once, and it is something he does not recommend to his friends. In the late summer of 1965 we enlarged the North Pond on Skomer, and nothing delighted Michael more than an opportunity to drive the tractor as we raised the dam. He was always most reluctant to let the rightful driver have the wheel.

From a volunteer on Skomer, Michael went on in 1966 to become Assistant to Chris Britton on Skokholm then Warden on the Calf of Man before and after a variety of other jobs the wheel swung full circle and he returned with his new wife, Rosanne, to fulfil  his boyhood ambition as Warden on Skomer.

Skomer has changed in many respects over the years. As the island becomes more popular, so the number of visitors, the number of school parties and those wishing to work on the island has increased ten-fold. The Warden must perforce become more of an administrator, a person who ensures that everything runs smoothly and the work gets done. Michael has ensured through effort and determination that much has happened to benefit Skomer. In addition is the sometimes hidden work, there are practical examples of his energy, and of his encouragement of others; the new pond in the lower North Stream, the completely rebuilt chalets and the superb landing path to mention but a few.

I must not forget Rosanne, she has probably collected more landing fees on Skomer than anyone else and in doing so has welcomes many thousands of visitors. She has carried out the annual Butterfly census and has taken a particular interest in the seals and the educational project. In every sense she has been a most valuable partner to Mike and a great asset to the island.

May I on behalf of he Friends, on behalf of the whole Trust, say a very warm thank-you to Michael and Rosanne for their ten years on Skomer and wish them every happiness and good fortune in North Wales.

David Saunders

New Skomer Warden

Steve and Anna Sutcliffe becoming Skomer Wardens March1986

Steve and Anna Sutcliffe becoming Skomer Wardens March1986

Following the move of Michael Alexander from Skomer, the post of Warden was advertised nationally and four candidates were interviewed on 11 January. We are pleased to announce that Stephen Sutcliffe was appointed and will be crossing to Skomer in early March were we wish him and his wife Anna every success in this challenging post.

Stephen will be known to many throughout the Trust for he has been an active member since his school days in the 1960s. His life-long passion has been the Cormorant colony on St Margaret’s, while another study in which he has been deeply involved is that of wader ringing at Angle Bay. As a member of our Islands Management Committee for many years, and more recently as Chairman, he brings a wealth of first hand knowledge and enterprise to the new post, our fifth Skomer Warden since 1960.