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: http://www.flickr.com/
If you would like to experience the newly reinvigorated Skokholm visit http://www.welshwildlife.org/skomer-skokholm/visiting-and-staying-on-skomer-and-skokholm/