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The Skomer Island Weblog – Information and Updates: The Ace of Spades

The climate has been largely form, permitting us to sort out our ever-growing checklist of upkeep duties. We’ve been mending hides, boardwalks and benches; filling in holes dug by overly-industrious rabbits on public paths; oiling every part that may be oiled; and eradicating vegetation from the jetty steps – a activity which noticed one broom denuded of all its bristles, while one other broke in two. We might have some extra… 

We spent a while doing battle with the heap of rock and earth remaining on the slipway, creating sufficient house to permit us to get the dumper by and onto the seaside – with deliveries from the mainland due, we couldn’t look forward to backup. As an alternative, the 2 of us set to, every sometimes, unconvincingly, reassuring the opposite that the pile was getting smaller. As soon as lastly on the seaside, we experimented with the winch. Hopefully we are going to keep away from getting the dumper caught however, simply in case, it’s of some consolation to know that there’s a method of extricating it! 

It is clear!

This week, Skomer has additionally been busy with contractors, popping out to work variously on the island’s electrics, plumbing, and WiFi – a mixture of servicing and repairs which can hopefully stand us in good stead for the approaching season. 

We’ve additionally had technicians from Rock Engineering out to evaluate and make protected the rockfall in North Haven. As they abseiled down the cliff face, eradicating every part free, Leighton and I appeared ruefully on the newly shaped pile of earth and rock on the slipway. Spades as soon as once more on the prepared…

Making protected the cliff

This seems to be acquainted…

With Lisa, the Wildlife Belief’s Head of Islands and Marine, popping out to the island with contractors, there was a chance to satisfy and chat head to head in regards to the coming season. The whens and hows of the island opening stay dependent upon lockdown restrictions – like many others, we await authorities updates while attempting to work out what totally different eventualities would possibly imply for us in apply. Challenges stay, however we’re trying ahead to welcoming guests and volunteers as quickly as we’re capable of.

North Haven assembly

We’ve continued our monitoring of raven and chough nesting websites and have just lately confirmed 4 lively raven nests with sightings of adults on the nest. We suspect an additional two nests, noting the presence of sharp-eyed adults conserving a distance and watching us after we are close by. Chough are extra elusive nonetheless, however we’ve seen nest-building exercise in three totally different territories. The sound of their name sees us racing to identify them, hoping to see nest materials of their beaks earlier than they disappear from sight. 

Raven’s nest with eggs

On Monday, the primary puffins got here to land, flying in nice circles of the bay earlier than dropping down onto the slope by North Haven. Inside moments, their small comical figures had been all over the place we appeared. Some stood bemusedly for a number of seconds earlier than withdrawing as soon as extra, others set off with decided waddles to research their environment. They’re at all times entertaining. 

Again on land…

However not for lengthy!

Now onto the beasts, the birds, and the bees: 

Like the remainder of Pembrokeshire, we’ve had our eyes peeled for the adventurous walrus who confirmed up on the mainland this week, scanning possible haul-out spots and speculating on how our resident gray seals would possibly react to its presence. Alas, this won’t be the 12 months for a Skomer walrus – hopefully the misplaced beast will quickly wend its method safely residence. 

Nonetheless, the ocean hasn’t been in need of spectacles. Final Saturday, we watched a bunch of round 100 frequent dolphins within the sea off the north-west coast of the island for about 40 minutes. Just a few harbour porpoises nearer to shore had been sadly considerably upstaged – I’ve by no means seen something prefer it.

New sightings for the 12 months included a flock of frequent scoter seen off Skomer Head, two black-tailed godwit at Moorey Mere, a single lapwing and three shelduck at North Pond, and a collared dove at North Valley Willows. On Wednesday we had been excited to see a single female-type black redstart on the farm (we stay considerably in awe of our Skokholm neighbours recognizing seven on the identical day). And, lastly, our first hirundines of the 12 months! – on Tuesday Leighton noticed a bunch of 5 sand martins passing by North Haven. 

And as for the bees? To date, we’ve had buff-tailed and white-tailed bumblebees and frequent carder bees buzzing round – we’re trying ahead to extra invertebrate motion within the coming months. 

Time for a cuppa now, and on with the checklist! Extra after we get an opportunity – thanks for studying. 

– Ceris, Assistant Warden

Buff-tailed bumblebee

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