Friday, 27 June 2014

Pelagic boat trip

The researchers at North Haven booked a boat to go out to the Celtic deep for some Manx Sheawater work, as there was spare space in the boat a few of us got the chance to go for a ride too. It was my first day off for about a month, a very welcome break from normal work (I still did one study plot though!).

The Dales Sailing RIB, well kitted out with two big engines!

With two 200hp engines on the back the RIB went at a good speed in the good sea conditions, the engines were surprisingly quiet too.

We all put on matching suits, warm, waterproof, windproof, and a very fetching shade of hi vis yellow.

An enormous Stena oil tanker at anchor, a slogan written on the superstructure proclaimed that “Oil should always travel first class”.


Researcher, Oli, enjoying some lunch on the way out, tuna pasta.

Common Dolphins arrived and played in the bow wave of the boat.

It was amazing to see them leaping out of the water so close to us. There were some strange marks on their backs, probably caused by the teeth of other dolphins, they only looked like surface marks though which was good.


Everyone had a great time on the trip, maybe we ought to do a blast over to Grassholm next time!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Puffins in the bluebells

Two big attractions on Skomer are the bluebells and the puffins. Combining the two is a little tricky, with the bluebells generally inland, and the puffins very much on the coast. This made an interesting challenge, and I wanted to try and get some photos that were a bit different to the usual ones you see everywhere.

Classic puffin pose, but with bluebells too.

These three were interacting nicely in the flowers. 

Everyone knows what a puffin looks like, so I decided to hide it in the flowers.


It can be tricky getting the angle you want on Skomer, there are burrows everywhere so you have to stay on the path. Despite the warnings in the introduction talk, and signs around the island some people still think they know best and step off the path only to go crashing through a burrow, often crushing an egg, chick or adult bird inside. So, stay on the path!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Quick visit to Skokholm

One of the wardens and a researcher needed to get over to Skokholm for some bird ringing/banding training, so I volunteered to take them over in the zodiac.

It wasn’t really feasible to leave the zodiac anchored off or moored, so I just did a quick drop off in the morning. I took one of the guillemot researchers, Julie, with me so that on the way back I wouldn’t be alone in the boat. There are some pretty exciting tidal currents around the islands, but it was all fine, even with a tired old boat with a keel that deflates itself in a matter of minutes. Fortunately the rest of it manages to stay inflated!

The jetty on Skokholm at high water.

At high water with a little bit of swell sloshing around it was a case of nose in to the rocks and scramble out of the bow, trying not to slip over and back into the sea! Delivery complete and it was a slow trip back to Skomer taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the cliffs on the way.


In the afternoon it was time to pick up the guys, I had to take someone with me again, so Elspeth (a guillemot PhD student), and Catherine, the conservation long term volunteer came for the ride. Being low water I was able to tie up the zodiac safely (aided by slippery rock scrambler Elspeth), and we went for a look around.

The cottage.

The cottage is really lovely, with a cosy lounge area that includes a multi-fuel stove.


Stained glass window in the toilet!

The toilet includes this stunning stained glass window. It’s a pretty amazing work of art and probably means people spend longer in there than they really need to! There is also a rare bird wall with some paintings of rare birds that have been seen on the island.

Sign on the cottage.

The Skokholm jetty at low water.

Walking down to the landing from the buildings

Looking back up towards the farm.

There was such a different feel to the island, a much quieter, more relaxed atmosphere compared to the busy hustle of Skomer. I guess that is mostly the coming and going of overnight guests, and day trippers. Hopefully I might get a chance to go over again later in the summer when Guillemot monitoring and counts are out of the way.

Better post this now, it’s been in the pipeline for a few weeks, and interrupted by counting thousands of Guillemots every other day.