Friday, 9 May 2014

On being a Long Term Volunteer on Skokholm

Some of you may know that I applied and got the three month  Long Term Volunteer (LTV)  position on Skokholm for the spring season. I have now been here for a month and thought to give you a little insight into the life of the LTV. My first three weeks were pretty much business as usual with the spring work-parties doing general maintenance such as lime-washing the buildings and painting every room inside. The usual work-party routine.

These last two weeks have seen   the beginning of the season and of a different life for the LTV. Our days do have a routine and yet that can change depending on weather and bird activity. We of course keep an eye on kitchen and make sure  everything generally tidy.  On change over days the cleaning of rooms etc has to be done quickly as there is little time in between one set of visitors leaving and another arriving.

Our other important  jobs however are to help in monitoring the birds and learning about how to survey the birds.  So these last few days Molly(the other LTV) and I have been searching for Greater Black Back gulls (GBB) nests. There are some 70 or so pairs on the Island and so far we have located 58 nests. This task involves walking round the Island spotting a sitting gull and marking the spot on the map. This sounds easy enough but requires some accuracy and a fair bit of walking.

The Island is slowly moving into spring dress these last few days the bluebells have really opened and as I walk up from South Haven the spread of colour is breathtaking. The sea thrift is  luscious this year
Some of the migrant breeding birds are returning such as the Sedge-warbles who can now be heard singing from their usual perches. A trickle of swallows are passing through and we think a few of our breeding birds have started to return too.
The gulls are busy making babies and the noise of their lovemaking is deafening. Puffins and auks are slowly coming in.

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