Skomer in bloom


I have never visited Skomer in spring before and we were in for a real treat this year. Paul and I arrived at Martins Haven nice and early before our boat was due to depart at 10.30 am.

We figured that arriving early would give us an opportunity to explore the Deer Park Headland for a while before getting our tickets for Skomer. Note I have never seen Deer on this headland - only cattle.

I must say one of the positive side effects of the pandemic was the change to a pre-booking system. The stress and mad panic involved in queuing for tickets has gone and the system is now 100% better.

So, we left the National Trust car park and headed up the steep slope to the lookout point. From here we had a panoramic view across Jack Sound of Middle Island and Skomer behind it.

The headland was very pretty. Covered in gorse bushes many of of which were covered in their vibrant yellow flowers. The scrub was alive with birds - Linnets, Wheatears, Meadow Pipits, Stonechats, Dunnock, Robins and Whitethroats were everywhere.

Paul scanning the headland

From a vantage point I scanned Skomer with my Nikon P1000 cameras super zoom lens and was amazed to see that the whole island was covered in a purple blanket of Blue and Pink coloured wild flowers.

The purple and pink flowers carpeting Skomer.

We walked further around the headland and did a quick birdwatch. The main highlights were Rock Pipits, Chough , Fulmar, Shag and a ringed Wheatear.

The ringed Wheatar

Time flys when you are enjoying yourself and it was soon time to head back to Lockley Lodge at Martins Haven.

I always feel when I have been given my Skomer ticket like I have a Willy Wonkas Golden Ticket but not for a chocolate factory - a Seabird Wonderland instead.

Lockley Lodge

The Swallows were nesting in the toilets.

Martins Haven.

The Dale Princess boat has now been retired and moved on to better and greater things. Its replacement the Dale Queen is bigger and dual hulled catamaran. I think its a big improvement over the old boat with a lot more space.

Then we were finally off to Skomer. As we got nearer to the island I could see that large parts of the islands were covered in swathes of Blue and Pink. It looked so beautiful.

After the usual welcome and briefing from the Skomer Wardens and volunteers Paul and I hit the full after burner button and launched ourselves up the steep slope. We had decided to head for the farm first.

The slope from the landing place was pretty much devoid of Puffins. Apparently they were all at sea. In May the Puffins single egg has not hatched so the parents spend their time when not incubating out at sea fishing and filling up their energy reserves in readiness for when the little Pufflings to hatch.

When we reached the top of the slope we had a breathtaking sight to behold. A huge purple coloured Bluebell carpet lay out in front of the farm, and where it was not purple it was pink caused by lots of Red Campion flowers.

Bluebells surrounded the farm in all directions.

I have been enjoying the Bluebells in my local wood back home in Gwent but I have never seen Bluebells like this on an island. I have been informed that Skomer was once covered in trees but was deforested by the Vikings and the Bluebells are a legacy of the ancient woodland that must have existed in the past.

This year Paul and I were in no rush and quite contented to wander the trails and take a more circuitous route around the Island.

Me being stalked again by Paul ;)

We walked to the Garland Stone through fields of Purple and Pink. You just had to stop and stare in wonder at natures beauty. I enjoyed just taking my time, admiring the views and doing some landscape photography.

The airwaves were alive with the sound of Sedge Warblers singing their little hearts out.

Not the easiest birds to grab a picture of as they like to perch up in thick vegetation ( I think to annoy me on purpose).

Sedge Warbler singing its heart out.

By the time we had reached the Garland Stone I was feeling tired and hungry and it was an ideal place to stop for a picnic.

I was joined by Paul who also took a break. I scanned the surrounding island and noticed now that the purple of the Bluebells was now gradually transitioning to the Red Campion pink.

The Bluebells began to transition to Red Campions.

Looking down at the Garland Stone and watching Grey Seals below.

We found a suitable pew and whilst munching away on my lunch watched Grey Seals haul out onto the rocks below.

After our pit stop we began to walk towards the Pigstone and The Wick. This area of the island was dominated more by a different kind of flower that is white in colour called Sea Campion. There was also quite a bit of Thrift around as well.

Sea Campion.

Large Swathes of Sea Campion

An Oystercatcher settles in a carpet of Bluebells and Red Campion.

Eventually we reached Skomer Head and it was time to have another break. All the walking we had been doing over the last couple of days was catching up with us.

The only real company we had apart from the occasional human was the odd Skomer Rabbit and a Jackdaw.

A Skomer Rabbit

An inquisitive Jackdaw

I expect some of my readers are going to be thinking ( almost incredibly) where are the Puffins?

Well a lot of them were out at sea but if I am honest on this visit I was concentrating on other things. I wanted to capture some other aspects of this gem of an island.

However, after walking our legs of lumbering around with our camera kit we eventually arrived at the Wick and of course there were a few Puffins around.

A posing Puffin

One of the Puffins was very friendly and stood on the path leading down to The Wick and just posed around for anyone who wanted a picture.

I was quite happy to find my own perch in one of the wider parts of the path and settle down to watch these comical little seabirds.

Puffin at The Wick

We did not hand around The Wick very long. It was a little but busy and the clock was ticking. In just over an hour we would have to be back to catch the boat back to the mainland.

Paul and I took the route back that passes by High Cliff and South Haven. The path here runs throughs great big carpets of Red Campion flowers and it all looked so picturesque.

Red Campion

South Haven

I always hate the next part of our trip. The return journey. I never feel like I have had long enough on Skomer. 

One year when I have the time I am determined to stay overnight. I would really love to hear the Manx Shearwaters that return at night in their thousands and to also perhaps experience a Skomer sunset.

I may even volunteer in the future ( roll on retirement - if only!)

My last picture is a panoramic photo showing Paul taking a good look at North Haven and probably like me wishing he did not have to leave.

North Haven.

The two days away on our Pembrokeshire adventure had been great and we had packed a lot in. Both of us had escaped from day to day life and forgotten about any of our worries and woes. Theres nothing better than some bird therapy to make you feel better.

* One thought that has struck me whilst writing this blog. Why did the  people who originally named Bluebells and Red Campion use those particular colours? I ask this because , unless , my eyes deceive me Bluebells are really purple coloured and Red Campion are Pink coloured. Perhaps its because they are shades of the primary colours......?


Popular Posts