Skomer Part 3 Two out of three aint bad
It was not a surprise and despite Paul Joy doing his best to sound like Meat Loaf declaring "Two out of three ain't bad" (I almost thought that Mr Joy was singing about the fact he is the only Canon user and lamenting he did not have a Nikon) -that made me chuckle, we were all a little disappointed. I have been trying to get to Grasshom for a decade and have never been successful due to bad weather. Visiting Pembrokeshire is always a gamble when the weather is concerned.
|A distant Grassholm. One day I will get there finally!|
So, with Grasshom cancelled the Three Amigos had to think of a Plan B. Fortunately we did have a backup plan and whilst enjoying a meal in the pub after a day out at Skomer we discussed where we would go on the second day.
After filling our bellies and a rest Plan B was decided - we would be visiting Stack Rocks and St Govans the following day. Both are excellent places for birding.
Skomer Part 3 - Two out of Three ain't bad.
On Saturday our view from the lodge did not look too good. The wind was really blowing the trees and there were dark clouds on the horizon. The weather had certainly changed.
The weather forecast however was quite promising with bright spells of sunshine forecast despite some rain showers so as we left the lodge to start our day of birding we were all rather excited.
The Amigos have visited Stack Rocks in a previous tour of Pembrokshire and know it is a fantastic place.
|The largest stack is crammed with Auks.|
Stack Rocks is situated on the Pembrokeshire coast that borders the Castle Martin Tank Range and lies in the military red zone owned by the Ministry of Defense, so that means access is sometimes limited when the military is running exercises.
On this particular occasion, we were lucky to have a visit as during the week access had been closed due to exercises taking place ( we had heard the explosions of tank and ordinance being fired the night before.
The car park lies about 100ms away from the Stacks. As soon as you get out of the car we could hear the noise of thousands of seabirds. The sound is incredible and I find it really exciting.
We walked from the car park and approached the clifftop. As we did so a flock of Choughs flew overhead and seemed to be blown at a terrific rate across the sky as the wind was really blowing.
Dark clouds were starting to roll in across from the sea and things were looking ominous.
|The sea was really stirred up with some big waves.|
Within minutes of looking over the side of the cliffs, we were retreating from a rainstorm hiding behind a solar panel with a bunch of Wildlife Trust employees who were volunteering for the day. There has been some monitoring work being done using various tech - hence the need for a solar-powered energy supply on the clifftop. We had a nice chat - one of them was an ex-warden from Skomer.
After a while, the clouds began to part and the sun came out again. Now it was time to do some serious birding and enjoy the view.
The stacks are incredible. The first two are viewable together with a few others a little further down the coast but only a short walk away.
|"I am the Kind of the Castle" Thats what the perched Guillimot is squawking .|
|Birds were constantly coming and going.|
|Can you find the chicks?|
The largest stack has almost every conceivable spot a bird can perch filled. As you get closer to the edge of the cliff the view is truly amazing. The raucous noise is incredibly loud and made by Guilimots jostling for space, Razorbills perched on their own little places on the edges and sides of the stacks and gulls swooping around the whole stack lurking in readiness to grab a chick.
From a distance, all you can see are the black and white of the Auks. When I zoomed in with the Nikon P1000 I was amazed that hidden amongst the feet of the Guillemots I could see the Guillemot chicks. Picking the chicks out is hard and found it a little bit easier when I reviewed the pictures and videos afterwards at home.
On this visit, I was amazed at how many birds from the colony that were taking to the air in massive flocks. Every now and again hundreds of birds would take off and fly above the cliff tops.
|I have never seen so many birds flying at Stack Rocks.|
|Every nook and cranny where a bird can perch is occupied.|
|Another stack that we found walking to the Green Arch|
|The Green Arch|
|Note the gentlemen stood precariously close to the edge!|
|The Three Amigos.|