A day on Skomer – a PAC auction bid is fulfilled…

This time last year PAC was feverishly organizing an auction to help fund the Badger Trust’s legal challenge of the previous Order to kill badgers in Wales. It was a bittersweet  and mega stressful time with the Pembrokeshire countryside and wildlife looking absolutely wonderful but many of us unable to enjoy it, let alone promote it to others, as we were only too aware of the havoc and destruction about to happen as the cull loomed – impossible to put out of your mind. By the time the auction took place in August, the Appeal Court had quashed the Order, and the relief was palpable. Well, here we are in cull limbo again – but two of us were lucky enough to go to Skomer island yesterday with our very own Welsh Wildlife Trust guide as a result of a successful auction bid last year – and nothing was going to stop us from enjoying it.

Skomer looked tranquil and the sea around sparkled. It was a windy crossing from Martins Haven with a lot of swell and regular drenchings for the unfortunate few sitting in the wrong place on the boat  (like an unseen Tiswas hand throwing buckets straight at them) – all taken in good humour.  The presence of Iolo Williams and the BBC Springwatch  broadcasts from the island had generated extra anticipation about what we might see - and the boats were full despite the strong winds.

The iconic puffins are just that.

We were  finding it hard to stand steady and upright in the wind – no such problem for them.

Realised what dramatic markings the razorbill has. It led to a discussion about why so many sea birds have dark upper bodies and light underparts. Apparently it’s to blend in the best according to where they are being viewed from. From the sky above they will be dark on the water surface -  from below the water they are light like the reflected sky.

These gull chicks show the natural world’s art of camouflage. We only spotted them because an enormous adult gull was sitting just above them on this rocky outcrop.

And it was quite hard to spot the rabbits sometimes too.

Campion and bracken.

Guillemot lodge on the cliff face above the sea - protecting the hatching eggs.  Premium spots are to the rear of the ledge.

On the boat back – by now sunny and calm – tired and happy.  An over cheeky gull pestered the punters a bit – and scored a direct hit on one. Nearly everyone else was part of  a group on a wildlife photography course. The tutor gave advice on how to work with the images they had taken to get the best results. They had come  from all over the UK to see and experience this wonderful scenery and wildlife. The tutor was booked to run similar courses across West Wales throughout the coming weeks. This is real inward investment. We have stunning land and seascape and wildlife – much more could be done by the Welsh government and relevant bodies to promote and protect it.

First step – join the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales – if you don’t already belong. They do a fantastic job of managing nature and island reserves and need our support. Thank you to Lizzie Wilberforce from WWT for being our guide and giving us a wonderful day out.

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