Saturday, 24 May 2014

on being a Long Term Volunteer

Living on Skokholm I am struck at how much the weather influences our lives. On the mainland I often don’t notice the weather, caught up in my own activities. Here it determines everything, we depend on the sun for hot water and electricity, and the survey and monitoring work with birds is weather dependent.  In the last two weeks we have had it quite a mixture. Gales with 50 miles and hour winds stopped the seabird work as we could hardly stand up let alone lean over cliffs to count visiting birds. The sea-spray swept over the island and even the nettles suffered damage. I enjoyed the spectacle of the wild sea lashing the cliffs, but got very tired battling against the winds and had to go to bed early.

This onslaught was followed by a few calm and beautifully sunny days when we peeled off layers of clothing and reveled in the warmth of the sun. Bird work resumed at a pace. Manx-shearwater monitoring and the first eggs from the auks were noted. The sun brought out the bluebells and the sea thrift to full bloom, both have been particularly stunning this year, possibly because there are fewer rabbits. 

This bliss was followed by two days of heavy rain. I find the rain most difficult, as I have to constantly wipe my glasses and find it hard to see anything at all. Rain has its compensations as it brought dunlin, ringed plover, a wood warbler and a common tern to North pond. All taking shelter for a while on their journey to the breeding grounds

Six weeks of my time on the Island have gone already, the time has passed so quickly and I have learnt a great deal. Now the auks are back and breeding there is more and different bird monitoring to come, but more of that next time. I leave today with a picture of the sunrise over the mainland.


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