|Nature Group Trips to Skomer|
|This summer two trips were organised to the island of Skomer, just off the Pembrokeshire coast.
In early May a group of eight, and in late June a group of three, each spent two nights in the self-catering accommodation belonging to the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, enjoying some excellent wildlife sightings. Short eared Owls were seen hunting in the area just next to the farmhouse and Choughs on the cliffs near the Garland Stone. Skomer is famed for its colonies of Puffins, Manx Shearwaters and huge numbers of rabbits and we were not disappointed.
The whole island is honeycombed with burrows and the wildlife trust do a good job in marshalling all the visitors on to paths whilst still allowing access to the birds.
On the earlier visit, the Puffins were busying themselves nesting and were quite comical in their attempts to get nesting material into their burrows. By late June, in blistering hot weather, the Pufflings had hatched and the adults were busy bringing sand eels allowing the classic shots of beaks full of fish and the clash with the waiting gulls, all too ready to rob them.
At night, the Manx Shearwaters come back to their burrows on the island and it really is an amazing spectacle. Tens of thousands of birds in the pitch black all trying to find their own home – the sound really is one of nature’s wonders and one that just has to be experienced – even if does mean getting up at 3am!
The cliffs are thronged with Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars and Kittiwakes with Choughs and various species of Gull as well. Wheatears, Pipits, Reed Buntings, Warblers, Whitethroats, Swallows, Martins and Seals etc etc. gave plenty of opportunity to practise different skills.
Trying to photograph swallows flying directly towards the camera down the paths between the bracken was particularly challenging!
Prior our return journey after the first trip, we had been tipped off that an extremely rare visitor to Britain, the Green Heron, had been spotted in a local MP’s garden in Narberth in Pembrokeshire, only a very brief diversion from our route. We all “twitched`’ our way to the garden to be rewarded with a grandstand view of the bird sitting on a branch over the lake. Perfect finish to a great trip.
Many thanks to Robert and Kyra for organisation and to Sarah for her hard work on the catering side. It was agreed by all participants that the logistics of getting to the island were worthwhile and well worth repeating. SH
Images: Top left - Puffin Nesting & Manx Shearwater top right by Steve Hardman Green Heron - Right by Robert Harvey ARPS EFIAP
See more images taken on Skomer