Fifteen Days Out in South Wales – A Beginner’s Guide to Skomer Island

Despite my abysmal ignorance in the local wildlife, last summer I have developed an obsession in Skomer Island, which my very kind hosts in Pembrokeshire fueled by kindly checking multiple Twitter accounts for me for ferry schedules and wind condition in the aftermath of hurricane Bertha.

I hadn’t researched Skomer much, I was vaguely aware that bluebells would not be in bloom in August, puffins would have left already, while seal pup would not have been born yet. At least I will see the Manx Shearwaters I thought. According to the infographics, 300 thousand pairs of Manx Shearwaters nest on Skomer during the summer (half of the world population), so that sounded cool.

I had briefly considered booking an overnight stay on the island, but ferry schedules are erratic depending on sea conditions so you may end up stranded for a couple of days and you are advised not have plans for the next few days, which did not fit my journey plans.

Well, we succeeded in getting to Skomer on the third day after Bertha. It was a lovely day, bit windy and very clear. The puffins had not left yet, a few adults were lingering in the water in the north haven. The seals had been born already, three of them. And there were 600 thousand Manx Sheearwaters as promised, only they were all hidden in the burrows because they are prey to the gulls, so the chicks stay in their burrows during the day and come out only at night, when the gulls leave and the Manx adults return from sea. During the day you can only see the borrows, burrows everywhere, and you must keep to the path which is dotted with dead, preyed Shearwaters.

This was when I envied the four people who had booked the overnight stay that night and were happily taking residence in the old farm.

But then what happened was that I was looking very closely to a rabbit exclusion area, to an overgrown mound, when I heard a Manx Shearwater making a subdued, cooing sound, which was delightful.


(more photos)