Skokholm Bird Observatory Reinstated

Skokholm Island has a long history of research and monitoring of sea birds, from when Ronald Lockley initially started recording information about birds visiting this stunning place making it the first ever Bird Observatory in Britain.

Skokholm Lighthouse  Megan Nolan

Skokholm Lighthouse Megan Nolan

From 1976 bird records lapsed due to the preference of the owner at the time. Happily a warden remained on the island to continue the daily census work. There is to this day a phenomenal record of migrating and breeding birds dating back to 1933, the only break being due to the war. Unfortunately though the observatory status had been lost. After much hard work from the Friends of the Islands and the Skokholm Wardens, Giselle and Richard, Skokholm Island has once again been established as a Bird Observatory marking the serious contribution that our monitoring work will make to scientific study.

This has also come about as a result of the Skokholm Island Appeal which enabled us to buy the remaining part of the island, including lighthouse, and allowed us to work towards Bird Observatory status.

"We were delighted when we received the news at the 44th Annual General Meeting of the Bird Observatories Council at Portland.  This recognises the huge amounts of work done on Skokholm Island during the restoration period, the reestablishment of intensive bird monitoring on the island and our desire for this to continue into the future. Skokholm Island thus becomes the 19th Bird Observatory recognised by the Bird Observatories Council and part of a network extending across Britain, Ireland and the Isle of Man. These 19 migration hotspots offer some of the best birding going with 85% of the birds on the British and Irish list having been recorded at just these sites." Said Giselle Eagle, Island Warden.

Guillemot by Dave Boyle

Guillemot by Dave Boyle

Being a Bird Observatory is much more than this. The thing which links all 19 sites is the standard and consistency of their ornithological record keeping, each Observatory amassing long-term datasets which reveal trends in the numbers of birds passing through each site. The majority of Observatories have either completed, or are well on the way to completing, the digitisation of these datasets which are a very powerful tool showing the state of our birdlife. The Bird Observatories Council coordinates and promotes the work of each Bird Observatory at a National level. Digitisation of our records will be an important next step for us.

So very exciting times lie ahead. The long term seabird monitoring work will continue and we are establishing more in-depth studies for some of our key species. The daily whole island census will also continue and is now augmented with intensive bird ringing. Visiting ringers will play an important role in this monitoring; if you are a qualified ringer and would like the opportunity to ring on Skokholm Island please contact the Wardens at skokholmwardens@gmail.com