Tuesday, 13 August 2013



Yesterday Neil H and I managed to travel by boat to the picturesque island of Skokholm off the Pembrokeshire coast.  Despite a keen north-westerly breeze the crossing was pleasant with birds en-route including close Gannet and Kittiwake.

Prior to our boat trip we trotted around the single track lanes near Marloes.  Birds included Common Buzzard, Raven, Wheatear and small numbers of warblers, and there were plenty of butterflies on the wing including plenty of Red Admirals, a few Painted Ladies and several Wall Browns.

On Skokholm we were greeted by a small 'herd' of Grey Seals and the clamour of hundreds of pairs of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. 

After a welcome cup of tea and briefing, we set about exploring the island and sorting out our ringing regime.  Mummified Manx Shearwater corpses littered the paths, once victims of gull predation as they endeavoured to find their nesting burrows.  Over 40,000 pairs of Manx Shearwaters are estimated to breed on the island, each night running the gauntlet of the gulls as they come ashore.

A wander around the island in warm sunny weather provided views of Puffin (just a few left), Raven, Chough, Fulmar, Rock Pipit, Wheatear and Peregrine and there were hundreds and hundreds of Rabbits!

Overnight we wandered a transect route across the island seeking Manx Shearwaters.  As it became darker and the meteor shower overhead became even more vibrant and regular, Manx Shearwaters began emitting their bizarre song of gurgles and banshee hollering.  We began catching and ringing these fabulous tubenoses and over the process of about three and half hours Neil H and I managed to catch 42.  Like all sea-birds, they are strong with sharp claws and surprisingly sharp hooked beaks.  Our night-time adventure ceased at about 4am when it was time for a couple of hours kip and then up to do some passerine ringing.

This morning we caught a few small birds and then set a trap for large gulls.  This resulted in the capture of 7 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 3 Herring Gulls and their far-reaching and sharp rendering beaks!

New migrants seemed minimal but did include a couple of Green Sandpipers flying around, and a smart Slow Worm was greatly admired.  Warm conditions have resulted in large numbers of immigrant insects including droves of Red Admirals and supporting cast.


Neil M

Red Admiral

Wall Brown
Grey Seal

Small Copper

Black and ginger rabbit!

Lesser Black-backed Gull
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