After a couple of failed attempts we finally made it over to Skomer on Saturday, our first time aboard the Dale Princess for at least two years. Given that all sailings had been cancelled on the days either side of our trip it perhaps wasn’t surprising that a long queue for tickets greeted our arrival despite it still being a full two hours before the earliest departure! Clearly the islands popularity and profile has been steadily on the rise and with only a set number of visitors allowed across each day there was definitely a sense of trepidation as we waited to see if we’d make it onto a boat. Fortunately we did (otherwise this would have been a very short entry) and enjoyed a remarkably sunny day amongst the thousands of sea birds which call Skomer home. I’ll never tire of watching their antics and on this occasion we had the added bonus of millions upon millions of flowering Bluebells as well. Whole swatches of the island were covered in a thick carpet of colour, great for those of us with an eye to photography and perfect cover for fledgling birds and parents alike. The real stars though, as ever, were the Puffins and we certainly got to enjoy our fill.
With so much negativity in the press of late where our wildlife is concerned it’s so nice on occasions such as this to put it all to one side and celebrate what we do have. The waters around Skomer were packed with large rafts of Puffins, their colourful beaks somewhat at odds with the more discrete Razorbills and Guillemots yet all the more endearing for that same reason. It always amazes me how such a small bird can survive out in the ocean for months at a time but survive they do. I often wander whether they treat their time on land as a kind of holiday away from the rough and tumble of life at sea but I suppose the process of raising young and dodging predators probably proves equally as challenging.
If there was to be one minor negative it would be that the number of Puffins at the Wick seemed lower than on previous occasions. There were probably only five or six individuals making regular returns and of those I only saw one with a beak full of Sand Eels. Given that it is still quite early in the season that’s perhaps to be expected and we saw several birds still looking for burrows and excavating others. In another month or so a far greater proportion of those birds currently loafing about on the sea should be up at their nests and fingers crossed we’ll be able to get back to see that spectacle as well.
Those Puffins which were about gave us great views and on occasion I and others had to make a gap for them to scuttle from one side of the path to the other. You just can’t help yourself from smiling every time they do this. I wonder what the Puffin thinks at having to wander between the legs of such strange looking mammals?
Of course it wasn’t just the Puffins which were showing well as both Guillemots and Razorbills put on a great display in their own, raucous, style. More of them tomorrow.