05 July, 2014

I'm on Skokholm!

I've been on Skokholm for a week now and can safely say the island is more fantastic than I ever imagined. Dean (fellow long-term volunteer) and myself arrived here back on Monday, just in time to greet a great bunch of students from Cardiff University carrying out their field study projects on the island. We've been guided straight into island seabird monitoring by wardens Richard & Giselle, with Razorbill and Lesser Black-backed Gull chick ringing in the past few days, as well as an ongoing Puffin burrow occupation study and a Fulmar nest monitoring project that I've become hooked on. The latter involves heading out to the cliffs each morning to note the progress of a study plot of Fulmar nests, allowing some magical views of breeding Guillemots as they fatten their chicks up ready for the 'plunge' off the cliff into the sea below!


Razorbill chick ringing

Bluebells in July...? Only on Skokholm!

The days are busy, with much of the morning spent maintaining all aspects of the farm, but it's worth it just to be able to spend the rest of the day birding the island and appreciating every aspect of the island's beauty. The number of Manx Shearwaters nesting on the island is mind-boggling, and I've been spending the past couple of nights outside in pitch darkness, listening to their haunting calls echoing out of their underground burrows. There was even time to twitch a cheeky Black Redstart found in the garden whilst I was eating breakfast a couple of days ago.

Black Redstart

Moths are about, and in remarkably high numbers. I've dedicated myself to the fairly arduous task of collaborating all previous moth records from the island into a more user-friendly annotated checklist, which should keep me busy on a rainy day. It's still early days, but there have already been some interesting finds. The Star-wort and Caryocolum vicinella are both coastal specialities which are notable to Skokholm; the latter is one of at least three species which I've identified as new to the island. Hopefully there will be more to come!


Caryocolum vicinella

The island vibes are great, and if it carries on at this rate the next three months look set to be absolutely mental! You can keep up to date with our daily goings on through the Skokholm blog itself. Well worth a read.

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