Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Skomer Island! Puffins, Owls and Seabirds!

Many of you will know my relationship with this small offshore island off the Pembrokeshire coast is dire!

And I truly mean DIRE!

I have been visiting Pembrokeshire, once, maybe twice every year for almost all of my recollectable life, and still, despite attempting almost every year, I have been unable to tread on the hallowed tuft that is the Island of Skomer. Many reasons across the years have prevented me, illness, weather, the boat being fully booked. But that changed this year! Despite arriving well before even the first boat, a long queue had already assembled, and a long wait followed, but eventually, despite arriving around 8:30, finally had our place secured on the 11am boat!

Now rather than one of my usual wordy posts, I think I'm going to spare you the waffle for the simple reason that every one of you who would read this knows the reason for my visit, ridiculous close views of Puffin, day flying Short-eared Owls and huge colonies of seabirds!

Having climbed the steps onto the island, and having walked slightly into the interior, you quickly notice a number of Bluebells lining the paths (And just about everything else if I'm honest), and following a short walk, a stunning Short-eared Owl was sitting up on a fence post among the carpet of blue.

In the distance, the huge Gannet colony on Grassholm could be viewed, with almost half of the island covered in shining Gannets and countless tons of guano.

After completing a circuit of the perimeter of the island, we made our way to the most famous breeding cliff on the island at 'The Wick', where, even despite my best efforts, I too became infactuated with some small, pied clownish birds bobbling their way along the clifftops.
The Puffins!
Now I've seen loads already on my walk around the island, and infact any sort of glance at the sea, even from the mainland revealed a huge number of thousands of Puffins.

The ones in the Wick though are rather special in that you can get within a few feet of them.....

Having had my fill, it was time to continue on, past the crowds, but via one of the best views on the island (in my opinion) where you look down into the Wick upon thousands of Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake etc, and right out into the Irish sea! Rather a stunning view!
Needless to say, this Puffin was rather happy he'd snagged this awesome piece of real-estate before the rest of the colony! 

We stopped in one of the small hides overlooking a tiny puddle of a pool, and it was covered with a good number of Gulls, Herring and LBBG were predominate, but Kittiwakes were dropping in very regularly to preen, and to collect mud for their nests on the cliff ledges.
This led to some rather stunning views!

A quick stop in the hide overlooking the larger pool near the farmhouse revealed a few waterbirds to add further interest, with a Shelduck family with 9 humbug chicks, a Shoveler and a Curlew, one of the only breeding pairs in Pembrokeshire!

Soon though, our time was up, and we returned to North Haven to be picked up on our boat, sailing out among the rafts of seabirds to return to the real world!
What a place!

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