The BIG return

Leighton Newman

On 1st April myself and Ceris Aston returned to The Wildlife Trust’s Skomer Island for the start of the 2021 season. For Ceris, it was a return after a short spring on Skomer last year, but for me, it was a return after three years of absence.

Having previously worked here as the Visitor Officer between 2015 and 2018, it felt overwhelming to step foot on Skomer again, but this time as the Warden. Our first few days were spent re-finding our feet and familiarizing ourselves with the island once more, before starting the long process of readying the island for visitors.

The sunrise on the first morning was spectacular and really set a bar for all future sunrises.

The early season jobs of cleaning and fixing, nearly always outweigh monitoring. One of our first jobs was this landslip, which deposited an estimated 40-50 tons of material on the jetty which completely blocked access for our vehicles; it was a good thing we came back on the Dale Princess and not our RIB!

Leighton Newman
Landslip blocking the jetty

It’s a real joy to be out looking for nest building Raven and chough throughout March. All of our Ravens are now incubating eggs and most, if not all, of the chough have started nest building! Every few days we wake up to the sounds of auks on the cliffs; sometimes Razorbills outweigh the Guillemots and sometimes it’s the opposite. We can nearly always rely on the Fulmars to be in attendance though.

The sound of our first Manx Shearwater came quite early in the month, we were sat enjoying the warmth of a fire when Ceris and I were both alerted to a lone bird calling over the house. There have been occasional nights where the cacophony of Shearwaters has woken me up, but I never grumble, just marvel, in the return of these birds from the south Atlantic.

Leighton Newton
Chattering starlings

Starlings have been seen regularly over the last few weeks, their chattering always a feature around the central fields.

The weather has been relatively settled so far. I am currently writing this on a blustery day but the sun is still shining and it is warm in the Library! Thanks to everyone for their support of Skomer and the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales over the last year, we’re really looking forward to welcoming people back to Skomer when the guidance allows.