The North Wind blows and takes us to the edge

You know how the saying goes "best laid plans of mice and men goes awry", well that just about sums up the start of my birding trip to Pembrokeshire, West Wales.

My birding pals Paul Joy ,Nicola Johns and me have been planning the trip for months. I had even drawn up a detailed itinerary for our three days away that involved a two night hotel stay and several excursions including a visit to Grassholm and multiple Skomer Island visits.

The weather gods however are forever fickle and had different plans in-store for us.

Since the beginning of the week I had been contacted by Pembrokeshire Islands boat trips as they were very concerned about the weather. Strong Northerly winds were forecast at the end of the week and this results in the sea being too rough for the boats to sail. Our pre-planned booked boat trips began to get pushed back day by day. Things were looking rather unpredictable and in the lap of the gods to decide despite my best efforts to organise things.

We set out on Thursday at the crack of dawn. The weather looked favourable - actually it looked the best it has ever been since I started making my yearly pilgrimage to Skomer island.

Skomer is now a very popular destination , especially for birders and photographers , so much so that despite the ticket office opening at 8.30 am you need to be in the queue as early as possible. There tends to be about three boats a day and each boat journey carries 50 passengers.

We arrived at Lockely Lodge at Martins Haven, just after 6 am and were second in the queue. But and it was a great big BUT. The wind was as breezy as hell and as my friend Paul likes to say when describing the choppy wavy waters - "There is a a lot of white horses out there". That was an understatement. Despite the ominous weather conditions we waited in the queue which in a short time grew and grew. There were now lots of eager expectant faces. It was not to be though - we were informed all boats were cancelled as the sea was too rough making it impossible to board and get off the Dale Princess. The Rib boat to Grassholm would not be running either. Disappointed faces abounded throughout the crowd who were queueing.

If your ever involved in planning anything, you need at least  a Plan B , we were now on about Plan D and it was only day 1.

The three of us were not to be defeated however. We might be landlocked but that didn't mean there was nothing else to see.

Martins Haven is part of the Marloes Peninsula and the coastal footpath runs right around the cliff edged point affording fantastic views across the Midland , Skomer and Stockholm Islands.

The land is grazed by cattle and comprises of some good coastal heath land so as we trekked to the Point. En-route we had some great views of  Linnets, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits.

An injured Oystercatcher made an appearance on the path and we got quite close to it before it flew away. Later on reviewing my pics I have noticed its a ringed bird.

At the Point we sat at the tops of the sea cliffs and looked longingly across the Jack Sound and beyond to Skomer. The location proved to be great for watching seabirds soaring across the sound and around the point. Gannets glided by on the air currents coming quite close.  A favourite species of mine the Fulmar flew by several times and I grabbed some nice pictures.

Sitting there scanning the sea it was amazing to see the busy bird air traffic flying around. We also saw some seals.

The walk  around the peninsula proved to be very fruitful with quite a variety of bird life such as Choughs, Rock Doves, Wheatars, Rock Pipits, and Kestrels to name but a few.

A good day was had by all despite no boat to Skomer.

So onto the second day, but there will be a separate blog post for that amazing day. More to follow......

Martins Haven - looking choppy with plenty of "white horses"


The panoramic view from the Point looking across the Jack Sound

Male Linnet in the scrub

The Oystercatcher

Fulmar flying past the point

Gannet soaring through the sound around the point.
Wheatear
Male Kestrel

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