Our Day on Skomer Island

By Kathryn Slade Skomer Puffin

Pembrokeshire is often referred to as a Nature’s paradise, with stunning seascapes and interesting wildlife. This month we were lucky enough to explore the beautiful island of Skomer set around a mile off the main land from Marloes. Around 23 miles from Bluestone National Park Resort, the island is a National Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Specially Protected Area. It is surrounded by a Marine Nature Reserve and Marine Conservation Zone and is managed by our friends at The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. 

Skomer is famous for its seabird population, including Manx Shearwaters, Atlantic Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Great Cormorants and Black-legged Kittiwakes. The island is also home to Short-eared Owls and Peregrine Falcons as well as Grey Seals, and Harbour Porpoises. It also has a very special resident, the unique Skomer Vole, of which numbers can reach up to 20,000 during the summer months thanks to the lack of land based predators. 

It’s only a 15 minute journey by boat on the Dale Princess to Skomer and there are some great photo opportunities as the island comes in to sight. On our crossing we had the pleasure of watching a pod of Common Dolphins foraging in the water not far from the boat! The Atlantic Puffins are in residence between mid-April and early August and as we got closer, we got our first glimpses of them flying around overhead and bobbing around on the sea. 

Boat to Skomer

Once the boat had docked it was up the steps to higher ground where we were met by the Assistant Warden who gave us a talk on what we should look out for on the island. On our journey we were lucky enough to be accompanied by Gina Gavigan, Marketing and Development Manager for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, who was able to show us around the island and update us on the Trust’s current projects. 

We made our way to the Wick in the early morning sun, where most of the Puffins nest for the perfect photo opportunity. “We’ve had a fantastic spring and early summer on Skomer, the Bluebells and flowers have been out in force and we have just completed our annual bird count,” said Gina. “This year we have welcomed 25,227 puffins to the island, over 3,000 more than last year, it’s one of the most important colonies in Britain. They arrive in mid April to nest and leave in early August, and as you can see are completely confident when there are visitors around their home,” she added as they scuttled around our feet. 

Two Puffins on Skomer Island

“We’ve also had around 200 adult Atlantic Grey Seals spotted around the island and last year 202 pups were born on Skomer. You can normally see them from the end of July around the island. It’s a bit of a carousel of wildlife, one lot leave and another arrive, there is always something happening and lots to see! ” 

Puffin Feeding

As well as Puffins, over 316,000 pairs of Manx Shearwaters choose Skomer to breed, with around 40,000 pairs on nearby Skokholm, that’s half of the world’s population! “The amount of Shearwaters makes it one of the most internationally important breeding sites for the species. They dig their own burrows and commonly go back to the same one year after year to raise their chicks” said Gina. “They go out to find food at night so they’re not often seen by our day visitors, but our overnight guests will definitely see and hear them! After fledging the young birds migrate to the South Atlantic off the coast of Brazil and Argentina. Researchers have tracked their flight with tiny cameras and the footage is incredible! After five years on the sea then they will return to Skomer to start families of their own.” 

Our Key Tips for a Great Day out on Skomer

There isn’t a cafe on Skomer so you have to bring a picnic but that is part of the fun!  

Arrive at Lockley Lodge Visitor Centre at Martin’s Haven in plenty of time to get your tickets. Call Lockley Lodge the day before to ask for the best arrival times for a better chance of getting tickets on 01646 636800.

Bring your camera as there are lots of amazing things to take photos of! 

Pack a waterproof coat even if the weather is fine as it can get quite windy on the island. 

It is vital that all feet, hands and bums remain on the paths at all times. Although some burrows look empty they are not and stepping, leaning or sitting on one will result in you crushing the burrow and potentially killing the animal inside. 

Members of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales land on Skomer Island for free. To become a member visit: www.welshwildlife.org/support-us/become-a-member

Use Bluestone National Park Resort as your exploring base there's room for all the family, find your perfect break and start planning your holiday in Pembrokeshire today! 

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