Have you been to Skokholm yet?

Skokholm Island Lighthouse

Skokholm Island Lighthouse

Volunteers digging out the sediment at North Pond

Volunteers digging out the sediment at North Pond

Our dream island is located two miles off the south west Pembrokeshire coast and is the perfect remote getaway for any wildlife enthusiast!

We currently have overnight stays available on the Island this autumn. So get your stay booked in and live off the grid for a few days.

Here’s some of the things that our island wardens have been getting up to in August…

3rd August:

Although the sea was hidden by mist for the majority of the day, the swell had calmed suitably for a changeover boat which allowed last week’s guests, who had enjoyed an unforeseen extra four nights on the Island, to leave. Morning conditions made birding difficult, but the mist temporarily eased mid-afternoon giving us a quick glimpse of the horizon and providing the perfect opportunity for Katy, our Storm Petrel volunteer, to visit the Storm Petrel productivity sites.

Good conditions for Storm Petrel ringing

The wind conditions this evening are again perfect for another Storm Petrel ringing session in South Haven (the first opportunity we’ve had since last weekend). The team are excitedly setting things up down at the jetty and it will be interesting to see how numbers fare given the less than ideal visibility and the fact that we are now into August (a month when numbers of non-breeding birds visiting the colonies tend to tail off). The session, which will go on until the early hours will provide us with extremely valuable data and also give our new guests a great opportunity to see these magnificent seabirds up close.

Birds logged today included a Cormorant, an adult Peregrine at Crab Bay, 30 Oystercatcher, a Dunlin, four Whimbrel, three Curlew, a juvenile Sand Martin (which was trapped and ringed), seven Swallow, 28 Wheatear, 14 Sedge Warbler, six Chiffchaff, eight Willow Warbler and four Chough.

6th August:

It was an early morning changeover boat today and we welcomed a group of ten enthusiastic volunteers who, for their sins, have agreed to spend the next few days with us digging the silt from North Pond. North Pond is an important part of autumn on Skokholm. Many species of wader drop in during their migration to top up on fuel or rest during bad weather and in the last six years we’ve logged over 30 different species there, including some fantastic Island records such as Long-billed Dowitcher and Avocet.

At the moment, however, North Pond is completely dry.

Digging out the sediment which accumulates during the year encourages the pond to re-wet after the first good autumn rain (due at the weekend!) and thus provides an important habitat for migrant birds. Birds logged today included 60 Gannet, five Cormorant, three Shag, two Buzzard, a Kestrel, two Whimbrel, eight Curlew, a Redshank, 13 Swallow, a Tree Pipit (the first of the autumn), 32 Wheatear, 17 Sedge Warbler, three Chiffchaff, 28 Willow Warbler and nine Chough. It is seemingly the last calm night for a little while, so we have excitedly forfeited sleep once more in order continue with our trapping of adult Storm Petrels down at South Haven, the ninth session of the season.

Last night's moth trap produced a rather attractive Webb's Wainscot, a Nationally Scarce species whose larva feed on a variety of water plants. We also trapped the first Scarce Footman of the year, a widespread species but still a pleasure to find in the trap.

Webb's Wainscot Moth (c) Giselle Eagle

Webb's Wainscot Moth Photo: Giselle Eagle

Scarce Footman (c) Giselle Eagle

Scarce Footman Photo: Giselle Eagle


The volunteer team, who are mostly ex-Southampton University Conservation Volunteers, wasted no time before getting stuck in to the North Pond sediment. Quite literally. They've already made fantastic progress and it's only day one! © Giselle Eagle

16th August:

We awoke to a beautiful autumnal day of wild blue seas and sunshine. Ideal weather for seawatching and staff and guests scattered into cliff-top hides to shelter from the strong westerly with a hope that it would push something interesting close to the Island.

Star of the day was the first Sooty Shearwater

Amongst a rather enjoyable sight of, amongst other things, several thousand Manx Shearwater, the star of the day was the first Sooty Shearwater of the autumn which was watched cruising south-west late afternoon from Howard’s End.

In second place was a close-in Arctic Skua which pestered groups of Kittiwakes trying to go about their day in peace. The rest of the day was spent pottering: investigating Lighthouse leaks, changing gas bottles, cleaning the Ringing Hut, sorting several odds and many ends and preparing for a very early changeover boat tomorrow morning.

With the weather too blustery for Storm Petrel mist-netting, our guests are now, under torchlight, being led into the Quarry where hundreds of Storm Petrels can be marvelled at through Skokholm’s unique infra-red set-up.

Other birds logged today included 71 Fulmar, 479 Gannet, four Cormorant, five Shag, two Buzzard, two Water Rail, 25 Oystercatcher, two Whimbrel, two Curlew, one Redshank, 222 Kittiwake, 253 Guillemot, five Razorbill, a Puffin, eight Skylark, a Tree Pipit over Home Meadow, two Robin, 25 Wheatear, six Sedge Warbler, a Whitethroat, four Chiffchaff, 12 Willow Warbler and five Reed Bunting.

To find out more about staying on the beautiful Skokholm Island, visit www.welshwildlife.org/skomer-skokholm/skokholm