Trip reports

Indoor meeting - Skomer Island

Indoor meeting - Skomer Island
rspb images

Friday, 14 January 2011

On Friday 14th January Chris Taylor, the warden of Skomer Island visited the group to tell about life on the island. His year on the island is 9 months on the and 3 months off, and he has been warden since March 2010. His CV takes him to Skomer via WWT at Slimbridge, Skokholm Island and the Balmoral Estate Office but it seems islands are in his blood.
His talk was an interesting variation on a theme. Rather than describing the island and its wildlife he posed the usuual questions visitors ask and then answered them.
There are up to 6 volunteeers at a time who come for a week plus long term volunteers.
Also on the island are between 110 and 120 thousand breeding pairs of manx shearwater. These birds share an incubation period of 50 days then 70 days of feeding the chick, bringing food in at night to avoid predation by gulls The remains of these birds all over the island shows that this is not 100% effective.. It seems shearwater on migration fly across to the south coast of Africa, over to Argentina, up the coast of America and back to Skomer. The record flight is 7750 km in 6 days.
Puffins, everyone's favourite - 12,500 birds in burrows. They arrive and lay eggs in April/May and depart in August. They have been tracked feeding up to Greenland and down to the Bay of Biscay.
The continued presence of these birds attests to the quality of the marine environment off the coast of Wales.
Generally speaking bird numbers are increasing - guillemots, puffins, razorbill and fulmar with annual variations in numbers.
On the island are the remains of iron age round houses and bronze age field boundaries and farming ceased in the 1950's leaving the island to wildlife and visitors. For the bluebells and red campion as well as birds the best time to visit is May and June while the seals pup in August/September.