|Saturday, 07 June 2008 13:29|
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Skomer Island – watching Puffins in the western Wales
Skomer Island with the area of 307 ha (approximately 3.5 x 2 km) and average altitude of about 60 m is the second largest
The very first historical record of
In spite of that, it is very obvious that how the presence of rabbits on the island for Centuries changed its face – on the restricted fenced areas one can see gross vegetation that contrasts with thin vegetation on the unprotected areas.
Birds on Skomer Island
Present in largest number but on the other hand the most-difficult-to-observe bird of Skomer is Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) with over 100 000 nesting pairs on Skomer, which together with ca. 45 000 nesting pairs on neighbouring Skokholm Island represent approximately half of the world population of this species! Most of the ground burrows that spread all over the island are the nesting burrows of Manx Shearwater. During the day Manx Shearwater is out on the sea far from the island and safe from the raptors. They return to the island after the dusk and look for their nesting burrows in a hurry. The best time for experiencing and watching Manx Shearwater is the night so it is necessary to book the overnight stay in advance – in the hut of local guides there is room for 16 visitors. For the ordinary visitor the only sign of Manx Shearwater on the island are besides the numerous burrows also the remnants of their skeleton – the remains of the night dinner of Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus), who is the greatest danger for Manx Shearwaters returning from the sea. Observations showed that the nesting pairs of Manx Shearwater returns every year into the same burrow and lays one egg, which is incubated for another 51 days. After the hatching it takes another 70 days before the young birds leave their nesting burrows for their first flight – that is usually during September. Manx Shearwaters then then head for the South Atlantic to winter off the coast of
Another mysterious bird of Skomer, which is active only after the dusk is the Storm Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus), which only counts about 100 pairs nesting on the rocky cliffs far from the visitors restricted footpaths.
The other common bird species present on the island aret he most favourite birds of visitors – Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica) – with ca. 6 000 nesting pairs, Guillemot - Common Murre (Uria aalge) - approximately 14 000 birds, Razorbill (Alca torda) – ca. 4 000 birds, Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) – ca. 2 000 pairs, Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) – about 700 pairs and of course the Gulls in great number – besides the already mentioned Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) and Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) also Lesser Black-becked Gull (Larus fuscus) and Herring Gull (Larus argentatus). Number of other birds that can be seen on the
The bird city Wick
For visitors the most interesting and attractive place by far is the cliff called Wick in the southern part of
Besides the Wick, which is the best place for puffins watching, there are also the puffins colonies in the surrounding of
How to get to Skomer
There is a regular boat commuter to Skomer between 1. April and 31. October – the boat which can load on 50 passengers is leaving from Martin`s Haven on the southern tip of Marloe`s peninsula and after about 15 minutes it arrives into the North Haven on Skomer Island. The first morning cruise is usually at 9.00 and last at 11.00 but everything depends on weather and number of visitors. It is better to be in time on spot and ask the locals about the cruises schedule and exclusions – the island is closed for public on Mondays and so is a few days in May or June during the birds counts. The boat leaves back from the island approximately at 15.00 to 16.00. The price for the commuter is 9 pounds for adult and the entrance to the island is paid separately – that is 6 pounds.
Gannet (Morus bassanus), which can be sometimes seen from Skomer usually just passes westward onto the Grassholm – a small island inhabited by ca. 30 000 pairs of this beautiful bird. There are also cruises to Grassholm but usually after the reservation as this island is not that attractive for turists as Skomer. More information about the cruises to Grassholm can be found on www.dale-sailing.co.uk or www.grassholm.com.
Ideal place where to start your trip to Skomer is certainly the campsite and guest house Foxdale www.foxdaleguesthouse.co.uk in Marloes, which is only 3 km away from Martin`s Haven from where every morning the boat leaves for Skomer Island. Only few hundred meters from the Foxdale campsite there is a nice cliff with small nesting colony of Fulmar; other birds can be watched on the surrounding pastures and fields.
The Skomer Island and its surrounding are worth to visit so if you happen to pass by, do not hesitate, take one day off and for sure visit this beautiful part of Wales!
|Last Updated on Thursday, 03 February 2011 08:52|