Saturday, 28 December 2013

Catered Insect Course in May 2014

Have a look at the Skokholm blog - Richard and Giselle have just posted details of a new course on the island in early May.  A fantastic time to visit and this time to learn something about a little studied group - the insects. Book soon.
Hope to see you all in February too.

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Annual Reunion meeting - now in its 22nd year and already with nearly 70 people booked and a number of regulars still to put their names down.

So please do book as soon as possible as its a great programme and a great time to meet island people.  Full details were posted on the blog in November and should have also arrived with the recent excellent newsletter. 

Skoholm and Skomer 2013

We would love to get some feedback from any Friends who visited either Skokholm or Skomer in 2013 and would love to put some of your comments on the blog if we can - anonymously if you wish!

Anecdotally we get some very helpful comments from people who have visited the islands but no one has actually written down anything. The Friends have regular meetings with Trust senior staff, so we are well placed to make your views, suggestions and comments known to the people who make decisions so please please do help us to do this. Please send your comments to the chairperson Renate Thome at the link below as soon as possible as we have meetings planned for early in the New Year.

Skokholm 2014

The bookings for 2013 were really good - the best for over 20 years.  We know there was some fantastic publicity for the island in 2013 and that almost certainly made a difference but the bookings for  May and June 2014 are slow Can you help us to try and make a difference and to help us to discuss any issues you have with the Wildlife Trust.

In particular we supported the view that weeklong stays in May and June would be a good idea as the wardens are very busy in this period. The twice-weekly landings, plus shearwater and storm petrel night walks, which make the visitor experience so special, put a lot of time pressure on the wardens.  This commitment coupled with the normal wildlife monitoring so important to the Island makes for intense pressures on their time.  It seems though that the week long visits are not well supported and we would like to know why:-

Tell us what you think.
Do you :

only want to stay three or four nights

find the change over days Monday to Monday difficult

would prefer a Friday to Friday change over

find the cost of staying a week too high

think a week stay is too long for you

any other reasons we have not thought about  

any comments and views would be welcomed - for example
it would be good to know if you plan to return - about 50% of people used to visit every year and we wonder if that annual fix is not part of your thinking anymore - which might influence how we help to support the island marketing in the future.

 Tell us :

 if you would book online if that facility was available

if there are any issues which you think the island managers really need to address

Please send all your comments and thoughts, however positive or negative, to as soon as possible.  We will do a presentation at the Friends meeting if we get an adequate response.
Lucy Griffiths and her boyfriend Chris have produced three fabulous new childrens books based on our islands.

Lucy was brought up in Marloes and a few years ago ran Lockley lodge for a summer season but is now a lecturer in media studies in Swansea University.  They spent some time on both Skomer and Skokholm in 2013 and have produced these new books ready for Christmas and next season.  They really are extremely sweet and very well produced and I think a potentially best seller.

Lucy and Chris have been incredibly inventive and funde the whole publication through "Crowd Funding" - look at for more information.

I have totally failed to upload the really lovely images from the book covers but PLEASE do have a look.  You can buy them just in  time for Christmas direct from

Monday, 4 November 2013


Hello Friends

It is Reunion time again. Below is a DRAFT programme  for you to see what is on offer
as well as a booking form
Lunch will be prepared by Sam and Wendy again so it will be delicious
The Island wardens will be there to tell the seasons tales.
Meet up with the Friends you made on the Islands new and old.
Book early as numbers in the Tithe Barn in Bishops Cleeve are limited to 120
We look forward to seeing you there

  Draft PROGRAMME 30th Reunion of The Friends of Skokholm and Skomer
16h February 2014
The Tithe Barn; Cheltenham Road Bishop's Cleeve at GL52 8LU 
Morning session chair:
10.30am         Arrive: tea/coffee and cake
11.00am          Welcome, admin, and announcements: Renate Thome
11.05am          Islands update: Sarah Kessell CEO / Lizzie Wilberforce
11.15am          The Skomer Year: Ed and Bee  Skomer Wardens
11.45am          Skokholm Year:  Richard and Giselle Skokholm Wardens  
12.15am          The ‘Friends’work on the Islands update:      Steve Sutcliffe 
                        Update on the Archives Project:                     Carol Collins
12.45pm                      LUNCH                                                                                           
1.45pm                        Raffle
1.30pm            Annual General Meeting
Afternoon session chair: Holly Kirk
2.00pm            Researching Seabirds on Skomer  Annette Fayet
2.30pm            Razorbills and their ways      Akiko Shoji       
3.00pm            ( Nightlife on the Islands )    Matt Wood
3.45pm             Bird Observatories what makes them so different?  Speaker (TBA)
4.15pm             Summing up: Tim Healing
4.20pm              Tea/coffee and cakes
The Tithe Barn is on the Cheltenham Road Bishop's Cleeve at GL52 8LUThe Tithe Barn is opposite The Rectory, Bovis Homes HQ and next door to the King's Head pub.
FROM THE SOUTH From Cheltenham take the A435 to Evesham. After the traffic lights at the GE Electronics factory take the third exit from the round about into the village, with the Race Course Garage on your left. Pass the Esso Station on your right, go over the traffic lights, pass the Police station on your right, and at the mini roundabout turn right, 3rd exit (opposite Stoke Road) into the Tithe Barn car park.
FROM THE NORTH Come down the A435 either from Tewkesbury, Ashcurch and Pammington, signed Bishop's Cleeve, or from Evesham, Beckford, and the Teddington roundabout. Pass the BP petrol station on your right at Gotherington, past the Farmer's Arms on your left and into to the Bishop’s Cleeve by-pass. Take the first exit left from the first roundabout into Finley Way. Pass Lidl on your right and turn right at the mini roundabout. At the Tesco roundabout turn right past the King's Head. Take first exit off the mini roundabout, opposite Stoke Road, into the Tithe Barn car park.

Booking form for the Friends of the Islands Annual Reunion
Year 30
16th February 2014

Name: ………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Email: ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Tel no: ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Cost £ 18 per person payable to:  ‘The Friends of Skokholm and Skomer’
Acknowledgment of booking will be by email or please send a SAE for a receipt

Return all to:
Carol Collins Church End  61Main Street Kinoulton Nottinghamshire NG12 3EL
Tel 01949 81798 (looks short but is correct)

Friday, 30 August 2013

Skomer mini work party

We are putting together a mini work party for the period 24th to 28th September  to help sort out the windows on the island and do a few more practical jobs before the season ends.  Anyone interested please contact Steve Sutcliffe initially (only need three people for the autumn) and then we will also look at a regular start of the season maintenance work party programme.
Also does anyone fancy actually acting as the liason person with the warden and actually pulling together the work parties for the future - I can't realistically do both islands although I can help a bit.
My email is

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Skomer Experiences

Richard Kipling has been a volunteer and employed Field Assistant on Skomer. He has put down his experiences on paper and they are to be published in a new book, Sheer Cliffs and Shearwaters: A Skomer Island Journal (Paperback), available to pre order now! 

Order using the link below or take the ISBN number to you local book shop...

We have also been sent some nice summer Skomer photos by Chris Price  For every photo bought from his website, Chris will be making a donation to the Wildlife Trust.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

A stay on Skokholm

David Astins last visited Skokholm 16 years ago. He returned to the newly refurbished Skokholm this May, here is what he found... 

I have recently returned from 4 fabulous days on Skokholm with my 12 year old daughter Emily.  What a fantastic break!  I last stayed on Skokholm in September 1997 with local birder friends Kim Gowney and Trevor Price, during Graham & Theresa Thompson's spell as wardens.  We had been fortunate to find Pembrokeshire's first, and still only, Isabelline Wheatear on that trip so I was hoping lightning would strike twice - it didn't, but with such an abundance of wildlife and (mainly) fantastic weather, who needs rare birds?

Our boat over was delayed by a day due to windy conditions, which was an initial disappointment, but our boat back was also delayed by a day so things evened out, and then our boat was further delayed which meant another 10 hours to walk the island, chat to new acquaintances, drink tea and eat biscuits!  Oh, and also wonder how we would survive on the dry goods in the island shop if further delays were experienced....the lack of pasta sauce, just 2 tins of beans, and an abundance of Fray Bentos meat pies left us vegetarians conjuring up imaginary meals of tinned peaches and rice!

It was great to meet new wardens Richard & Giselle, and see all the amazing work that The Friends and others have done over the last few years to get Skokholm back on its feet and on its way to becoming a Bird Observatory once again.  Running water was a real bonus!  Thanks must also go to volunteers Joe & Margaret who are doing some sterling work, and they helped make our stay even more enjoyable.  The only improvement I can possibly think of is to bring back communal meals, as this was part of the experience of staying on Skokholm - by the last night we had joined together with two new friends to cook together and it was fun.

I have now joined The Friends, and will help in any way I can, though the demands of a full time job and other pressures, sadly leave me with little time.  Emily loved her first trip to the island, and we will be back as soon as we can.

Some photos from our trip can be seen here:

If you would like to experience the newly reinvigorated Skokholm visit

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Lichen Course on Skokholm

This is just a reminder that John Jones is running a lichen course on Skokholm 5th to 12th August.
John is one of the UK experts in this field and Skokholm is one of the best places for lichens (except those that live on trees I guess!) and it promises to be a fascinating and informative course.
The cost for the fully catered week is £475 and you need to book through the Trust office as usual.
I gather there is plenty of space still so please get in touch with the Trust as soon as you can and don't miss the opportunity. 

I also hope you are all watching the island blogs - almost daily posts of fascinating stuff.


Sunday, 7 April 2013

More about the new Alice

Radio Wales interviewed Sean Kehoe on Saturday morning just before we headed out to the island with the figure heads -the original "Alice Williams"  and the replica.

You can listen to the interview here -

Historical moment Alice arrives back home !

 A historical moment yesterday when the Alice Williams returned to her home on Skokholm. The original Alice  went back to her place in the Wheelhouse and the replica, commissioned by the Friends and sculpted by local Dale artist Sean Kehoe, was placed in her original place on the rocks overlooking South Haven. 
Here the artist is carrying Alice to the boat ready for her journey home 
                                                           Spot the difference !! 
                            Can you tell which one is which? 

Alice and Artist Sean Kehoe posing on the jetty on
their arrival 


Alice and the delivery team arrived in time to see the shuttering for the jetty still in place.
The jetty is now completed and just needs  to dry out. Excellent work by
Chris Ward and his crew, all volunteers this week also were on jetty
duty pouring concrete hard work but a good way to keep warm 

Richard Brown our warden carefully receives Alice ready to
go and sit on her usual rock 

Sean is delighted with Alice now sitting in her rightful place keeping
and eye on the harbour 

Skokholm looked beautiful in the spring sunshine, the cottage freshly lime-washed sparkled in the sun.
Good work done  by the volunteers  this week. They all looked happy if somewhat tired.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

To all Friends,

Dr Mary Gillham passed away last weekend. As well as the Skokholm research she was a founding member of Glamorgan WT and had been chair and president in the past as well. She was a regular attender at the reunions and had a great love and understanding of the Islands. Although Mary has been unwell for some time her condition worsened last Christmas. She was 91. 

Her funeral is on the 8th of April 12.30 at the Thornhill Crematorium (north Cardiff). 

Monday, 1 April 2013

A month in the life of Skokholm

Returning from a month on Skoholm and having survived I now want to tell you all the tale.
Five of us arrived on the 1st of March to open up the Island and to begin prepare  for the work parties due on the 14th. 

Richard and Giselle seemed to like their new home and took to island life like ducks to water. Their experience of living on Bardsey a great help to their rapid adaptation to Skokholm. The first few days were springlike and sunny. Then the cold set in. The weather during this month has certainly been a challenge and we had to keep busy to keep warm. On the positive side we ate huge amounts of good food without the usual consequences of weight gain. 

Much work was done as you can see from the pictures below. The challenge of the weather and the intense cold have made this month of work parties particularly memorable. Yet despite the difficult conditions much was achieved and everyone retained their humour and good spirits. 
A big thank you to all of you who helped and contributed to this work, all the best to the remaining two weeks of work parties still working away on Skokholm. 
On arrival we unloaded large amounts of materials including tons of
cement which we moved up the jetty several times. Four delivery
boats meant long hours of moving the materials up to the
cottage and to the lighthouse. One delivery was completed in
the dark to the light of head-torches. John Reynolds was great in
bringing all materials and calling in on his way about the seas to
help out with essential bits that would have held up the work.

the cold weather was a real challenge the amount of clothes we had
to wear just to keep warm was unbelievable. I fell in love with my
hot water-bottle and never took my coat off 

Work on the light house has progressed and now there
is electricity throughout put in single handed by
our very special electrician Henry Lloyd 

Richard and Giselle really love the lighthouse their
home for many years to come we hope. 

Henry at work on the electrics 
Minor disasters included the dumper getting a flat tire and
the washing line  breaking on a sunny day, the reliable
contact of John and Caroline Walmsley on the main-land  was crucial
we would have achieved far less without their constant help and rescue service  

the work parties arrived on the 14th March and with them
Chris Ward and his merry men, to complete the work on
the jetty started last year.
the jetty work started off well but ran into difficulties
due to gale force winds combined with high tides. Hopefully
this work will be completed in the next few weeks. 
the workparties started the work of plumbing in the sinks in
all the rooms. A work that entailed a great deal of making
holes in very thick walls. 

work on the lighthouse progressed well and the "lab" now
has a suspended ceiling. 

the boiler and electrics have a cupboard and the
lab is beginning to look like it should.

Upstairs in the lighthouse Giselle and Richard's quarters are looking inviting and are almost
ready for them to move into.

Giselle is very excited about having a hoover
here she is practicing  on the lawn

our cooks have done a great job a special thank you to Anne
who's contribution went well beyond the call of duty.

So all in all a very successful month, there is another two weeks
of work parties to go before the guests start arriving.
a great thank you to all of you who make this work possible
and who support our efforts.

Renate Thome