Thursday, 7 June 2012

Puffin heaven at Skomer

Puffin, Fratercula arctica
On Wednesday 23rd May I arrived at Martin’s Haven to join a queue at the Wildlife Trust and got on the  9:30am Skomer Island boat.  We saw a seal on the 15 minute journey.  The walk around Skomer was excellent, made all the more enjoyable as the sky was cloudy in contrast to the previous hot days.  Carpets of Bluebells,  Red Campions and white Sea Campions, sometimes mixed with each other,  gave wonderful vistas with rocky crags and coastal sculptures. The Puffins were the highlight of the walk. They were so used to visitors that they waddled by us to get to their burrows, sometimes with a mouth full of sand eels for their single chick. One of our party saw a gull reach into a nest and pull a chick out. A warden advised that the presence of  tourists keeps the gulls from predating more of the Puffins at the Wick. The Island is managed by The Wildlife Trust Of South and West Wales, whose modest £10 landing fee helps with this task (The boat trip cost £10 also). Volunteer wardens stay on the island for one/two week stints. We also saw plenty of Razorbills, Guillemot  and some Choughs.  We saw plenty of rabbits which were introduced 700 years ago and keep the island grazed and suitable for the many birds that nest there.  Test patches are fenced to keep the rabbits out and these show that without rabbits the fescue grass would dominate and only bracken would survive with it. We caught the 3pm return boat.

white Bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta 
Chough, Pyrrhocorax  pyrrhocorax
Great Black-backed Gull, Larus marinus
Guillemot, Uria aalge
Herring Gull, Larus argentatus

Puffin, Fratercula arctica
Puffin, Fratercula arctica

pair bonding

with sand eels

Razorbills, Alca torda
Razorbills, Alca torda

Sea campion, Silene maritima
Sea campion, Silene maritima

Thrift, Armeria maritima and Kidney Vetch, Anthyllis vulneraria

Puffin burrows

Sea campion, Silene maritima

The Wick where the main Puffin activity can be seen

Bluebells and Red Campion

Harold Stone

Dale Princess

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