Meet Bee and Ed - The wardens of Skomer Island
Marooned off the south west tip of Pembrokeshire, surrounded by an abundance of wildlife, everything from the cheeky puffin to toads and slow worms.
What's it really like living on Skomer Island? Visit Pembrokeshire hopped across to the island to chat with Bee and Ed, Skomer's wardens.
VP: What initially drew you to Skomer & how long have you been here?
Bee & Ed: We are now almost halfway through our fourth year working for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales based on Skomer. The thing that initially drew us here was the shear abundance of its wildlife. Skomer is up there with the top nature watching sites in the world. One other thing that drew us here was the opportunity to work with some of the world’s best seabird researchers and get involved in ground breaking conservation research.
Skomer has slowly started to feel more and more like home. We know almost every nook and cranny now and we have made our home as cosy as any mainland home.
VP: What are the best and worst parts of living on Skomer?
B&E: The best part of living on Skomer is seeing the seasons change and the wildlife come and go. Also, doing the washing-up with one of the best views in the world is a bonus. The worst thing is not having ice-cream.
VP: The life of a warden has to be one of extremes- do you find it difficult sharing your home with just wildlife and storms one day and up to 250 people the next?
B&E: We enjoy showing people wildlife and inspiring them to care for the natural world so if it is difficult at times the benefits outweigh the costs.
VP: What’s the most exciting wildlife sighting/experience you’ve had to date? Is there something you’re still waiting to see?
B&E: There are so many things. The seals have provided us with so many great memories. We have had Common Dolphins playing within touching distance of our small boat. One of our favorite days was assisting the researchers ringing Guillemot chicks on the Amos. Then there was seeing a Pallid Harrier (a first for Wales at the time) flying around in the company of a Montagu’s Harrier. Hand rearing a Shoveler duck in 2015 was also an amazing experience.
We are still waiting to see a Risso’s Dolphin or whale off the island.
VP: I know when you arrived this season, there was some winter damage to the buildings- have you honed strange and useful talents you never thought you’d have to use?
B&E: The buildings on Skomer require a massive amount of time, effort and money to maintain. We do as much as we can ourselves and we have done things that we never thought we would, some of them unmentionable.
VP: Pico Iyer said: “In the past, I've visited remote places, partly as a way to visit remote states of mind: remote parts of myself that I wouldn't ordinarily explore.”
We spoke to some visitors who said something similar, that visiting Skomer is a complete break from their normal life. Just as the birds migrate to this safe place, do you think it’s important to keep these remote places for people too?
B&E: Absolutely, people need to feed their souls for a better quality of life, which is something that we neglect more and more these days. It is so important that we keep remote and wild places for the sake of mankind and wildlife alike. You only protect what you love!
VP: If you could see one thing happen for the good of Skomer in the next few years, what would it be?
B&E: Secure funding for the conservation work we do and for ongoing monitoring and research into our internationally important seabird and seal populations. We would also like to see more people enjoying the island in early spring (April) and autumn (August and September) and appreciating the wildlife that is here at those times. There is so much to see, from migrant birds to seals pups, unbelievable numbers of Manx Shearwaters and flocks of Ravens.
Discover more about the research of Manx Shearwaters on Skomer: A summer of Shearwaters
VP: What happens at the end of the season- where do you go?
B&E: We spend a week or so in early December catching up with Wildlife Trust colleagues and going to meetings. Then we go to Norfolk to see my family before going over to Germany to spend Christmas with Bee’s family near the border to Switzerland. Somewhere within this busy schedule we have to write several reports and try and take a well-earned break somewhere, preferably somewhere sunny.
Thanks Bee & Ed!
Keep up with Bee & Ed and the rest of the Skomer team via their blog.
You too can discover what it's like to live on this wildlife packed island - read more about this legendary experience in our 24 hours on Skomer.
Have you been to the island? And if so, what did you enjoy the most? Is it the quiet haven away from the normal world that you appreciate, the huge amount of wildlife or the incredible landscape?! Let us know.