Gargling guillemots & legless lizards: The life of a long term Skomer volunteer

A brief introduction about myself - after realising a few years ago that I wanted to pursue a career in ecology, I studied a Masters in Biodiversity & Conservation. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to gain some practical experience in the field. Having previously done some research on gannets in Scotland, I’m particularly eager to work with the huge range of seabirds that are found here on Skomer!

The team has been very busy since our last blog - this week saw us welcoming visitors onto Skomer for the first time since September 2019, which has been very exciting! With our love for the island in mind, I wanted to share with you my personal favourite places on Skomer (and in game show fashion, these are in no particular order).

A walk to the Garland Stone is the first thing we did on our introductory tour of Skomer, and is always my first thought when I fancy a pre/post-work stroll.

Once you’ve passed through the sea of bluebells currently covering much of the island, you’re greeted by a spectacular view of the Garland Stone and the sea beyond it - with swallows and sand martins swirling around your head, fulmar gliding over the rocks below, and gannets soaring above the water in the distance, you really get a feel for how wild yet peaceful Skomer Island can be.

In my opinion, Bull Hole is one of the best seabird spots on the island. Home to guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and more, Bull Hole is an intense experience… the sight, sound, and (if the wind is in your favour) smell of a large seabird colony can be somewhat overwhelming!

As the boat pulled into land on our initial arrival, I was amazed at how much wildlife I could see before I’d even set foot on the island, and that amazement still remains!

The biggest personal highlight for me at North Haven is the seals. You can find them every morning laid out like sausages on the beach, but when they’re not being lazy, they’re being extremely curious and like to get a good look at what you’re up to (we had a sizeable audience when clearing the landslide in early April)!

As well as being my home whilst working on Skomer, the Farm has proven itself to be a fantastic place to spot wildlife. I’ve seen a lot of personal firsts here - slow worms, ring ouzels and whimbrels, to name but a few - and have also witnessed some fantastic bird behaviours, all from the comfort of a picnic bench with a biscuit in one hand and my binoculars in another!

The sight of two short-eared owls dramatically whirling around in the air above the hostel is one I won’t be forgetting any time soon. I could continue this list forever (every part of the island is amazing), but will end it there for now!

Look forward to keeping you posted as the season progresses.

Becca, Long-term Volunteer

If you would like to visit Skomer yourself, tickets can be booked here.

Becca, one of Skomer's long-term volunteers
Garland Stone (b) Becca
Bull Hole equipped with hundreds of Guillemots! (c) Becca
Razorbill at the landing steps (c) Becca