Couple prepare for life on tiny Skomer Island with puffins for company

As appeared in Wales Online 21/01/2013

Living on a tiny rock surrounded by treacherous seas might sound like volunteering to be locked up on Alcatraz.

But nature lovers Birgitta Bueche and Eddie Stubbings jumped at the chance to move to the puffin-covered rock that is West Wale tiny Skomer island.

Eddie and Bee

Eddie and Bee

The couple are getting ready to move to the two mile wide site of special scientific interest next month where they will be the new wardens for Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.There, their only company will be the guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and puffins who inhabit the island as well as the seals in the clear waters around it.

German-born Birgitta was brought up near the Swiss Alps.

“I don’t think I will get bored,” the 35-year-old said.

“There is so much to learn and like. There is everything like insects and plants and birds to start exploring.

“And the sea is a completely different universe as soon as you put your head under the water.”

The pair currently live in Norfolk where Eddie is warden on Blakeney Point – a remote finger of land that stretches three miles into the North Sea.

He said: “This opportunity came up and because it was a combination of being able to work together and work with internationally important sea bird populations we jumped at this.

“I love Blakeney Point and it will be hard to leave.

“But Skomer is also amazing and I am looking forward to the challenge of moving to Wales and working on Skomer and all that brings.

Puffin in burrow by Lyndsey Maiden (1 of 1)

Puffin in burrow by L Maiden

“Having spoken to ex-warden Chris Taylor there is a real buzz about the place, the buzz of researchers and visitors and interesting bird life.”They are the second couple to take charge of an island in only a few weeks.

Richard Brown and Giselle Eagle have just moved to Skokholm – a stone’s throw from Skomer.

Dinner parties will be few and far between.

“There will probably not be so many parties because it is difficult to get from Skomer to Skokholm,” Birgitta said.

“But perhaps once in a while we might meet up.”

Storms and isolation will be among the challenges they face as well as coping with unreliable supplies of water, food and electricity.

Eddie said: “They have got generators and solar energy systems but they will go wrong.

“There will be communication systems like internet access but that will go wrong as well.

“Phone lines will go down and things like that.

“And we won’t be able to pop to the shop to get a pint of milk.”

Birgitta, known as Bee, has been obsessed with nature since she was eight.

“It was always what I wanted to do. It’s not a job it is a lifestyle.

“There are people that always know that they want to live with nature, among and with nature, and according to nature’s rules.

“I have always been like that. I have always enjoyed being outdoors, not indoors.”

Eddie admitted the work was only suited to “certain people.” “Others would go nuts,” the 34-year-old said.

“My present job is almost a lot more isolated even though it is not quite an island.

“It’s a spit, a finger of land that comes off the main land and we are right on the end.”

They say Blakeney Point is “the remotest part of Norfolk”.

“People have to walk up three or four miles of treacherous shingle to get there,” Eddie said.

“There is no road. It is very isolated. I am used to it and enjoy it.

“In a way I might have to get used to the buzz of the people on the island.

“So it won’t be quite as lonely as you’d think.

“People will probably find it amusing that you can get more isolated than an island.”

The trip to their new home might not be fun.

“I get sea sick when I go on boats,” Bee said.

“These things you have to live with.”

Article by James McCarthy