30 September, 2014

September on Skokholm

All good things have to come to an end, and I left Skokholm on a calm, crisp Monday morning boat bound for a second year of University. It's been an indescribable three months of volunteering, seabird ringing, moth-trapping, rarity-finding, star-gazing, (attempted) DIY and general good times, and I've met many great folk along the way to keep in touch with over the coming years.

After becoming accustomed to the simple life on a tiny, isolated island, I half expected 'civilisation' to be a punch in the guts. On the contrary, it's surprising how quickly one becomes re-accustomed to flushing toilets, showers and washing machines. I don't know where to start when it comes to summarising it all, so here are some photos from my last month on the island. Daily updates from throughout the seabird season can all be found on the warden's blog, and I've just popped a hell of a lot of photos from the stay up onto Flickr, so feel free to take a look at them.

Looking up at Crab Bay, where the Puffins used to be.

I guided a group of marine biologists to the bottom of some magnificent cliffs, where they then proceeded to name and survey every seaweed on every rock.
They didn't stop at seaweeds though- this is Anurida maritima, a springtail which walks on the surface of rockpools! I am easily excited.
The only beach on Skokholm- but boy is it a beach.

Home for the past three months
I'm desperately missing the 360 degree views that can be had from the top of Spy Rock. The sunsets over the Irish Sea were phenomenal.

In terms of bird action, it was hard to match the run of scarcities we enjoyed during early-September (Icterine Warbler, Ortolan Bunting, Common Rosefinch, Wryneck). Migrants continued to make landfall throughout the rest of the month, with the Swallow passage during my last week definitely ranking as one of the best experiences. Many 10,000's of birds powered straight in off the Irish Sea each day, and understandably some were a bit thirsty after their travels.

Looking West from the southern tip of the island, you could actually watch the Swallows coming in off the sea. Magnificent. 

At night, Manx Shearwater fledgelings carpeted the main path network. They were extremely clumsy, and would often find themselves in awkward places (inside buildings, on top of roofs or trees) in their search for a high point to take-off from. Inevitably, confused and ill birds would venture out during the day, making easy meals for the Great Black-backed Gulls.


Tree Pipit

Spotted Flycatcher


Steve Gale said...

A treasured set of memories that will be with you for the rest of your life Bill. Nothing compares...

Ian Beggs said...

Enjoyed your blog. It was a genuine pleasure meeting you earlier this year. Good luck at Uni and keep in touch.