Saturday, 1 November 2014

Some updates and a Friends success story via the Pembs Bird Group Newsletter


Pembrokeshire Bird Group and BTO newsletter,
October 2014.

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Pembrokeshire Bird Conference

Derek Moore 1943 - 2014

Funding Skomer Guillemot Studies

Marsh Award for the Friends of Skomer and Skokholm


Pembrokeshire Bird Conference

Picton Centre, Haverfordwest
Please note that the Conference is on a SUNDAY this year!
The programme focusses upon birding in Pembrokeshire, and our speakers include many leading Pembrokeshire birders
  • A Pembrokeshire Diary                        Brian Southern
  • Visiting Gulls                                       Dave Astins
  • A Welsh BTO Update                            Kelvin Jones (BTO)
  • The loss of arable habitats and their birds        Clive Hurford
  • Aspects of Skokholm                           Richard and Giselle (Wardens)
  • Thermal Imaging of Storm Petrels       Matt Wood
The Conference starts at 10.00am, finishing around 4.45pm; Registration from 9.30 am please.
During the Buffet Lunch (included in the Conference ticket price) there will be the chance to take part in a photo ID quiz and browse stalls and displays, as well as catch up with old friends
In response to feedback after last year's conference, there will be morning and afternoon coffee/tea breaks and a longer lunch break.
The price for this excellent day is £15 (including lunch and teas/coffees)by cheque or cash, or £16 if paying by PayPal (to cover the PayPal charge). Concession price of £7.50 for under-18's or full-time students up to 25.
To book your place print off the Booking Form HERE. Acknowledgements will be sent out by email.
The Picton Centre is a single storey brick building located to the front of the County Council Buildings, and is accessed from the Freemens Way dual carriageway. There is ample parking in the County Council Office Car Park. It is only a short walk from the bus and railway stations. For a map click HERE.
If you need any further information please ring 01646 63697001646 636970 or email
The conference is very kindly being sponsored by Valero. The funds generated by the conference will be used to support birding and wildlife conservation in Pembrokeshire.

Derek Moore 1943 - 2014

It is with great sadness we report that Derek Moore passed away on October 23rd after battling a long illness against cancer. 
Committed conservationist, entertaining speaker at our annual conferences, enthusiastic bird man and boon companion in the field, he will be sorely missed. Deepest feelings must go to Beryl at this traumatic time.

For memories of Derek, read his blog


Guillemots of Skomer need YOU.

A request from Tim Birkhead.

Thank you for your interest in my long-term study of guillemots on Skomer Island, Wales. And thank you to everyone that has contributed so far!

In the 1930s there were around 100,000 pairs of guillemots on Skomer’s cliffs, but by the early 1970s this had fallen to just just 2000 pairs. Since then number have increased and there are now around 25,000 pairs. The population on Skomer is one of just a handful of UK guillemot populations that is doing reasonably well at present. 

But there’s no room for complacency. The massive ‘seabird wreck’ of February 2014, which was the result of persistent storms killed at least 40,000 seabirds, many of which were guillemots and many of which were from Skomer. Our long term study, in which we have monitored the survival and breeding success of Skomer’s guillemots, puts us in a unique position to understand the consequences of this wreck. Ironically, ‘wreck’ coincided with the decision to terminate funding for the study.

The guillemot study started in 1972 and for the last 20 years was funded by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW). In 2013 CCW became part of Natural Resources Wales, and the funding for the guillemot study stopped.

As the quality of our seas continue to decline as a result of climate change and over-fishing, it seems crazy to terminate a study that could help preserve one of our most important seabird species. This project needs £12,000 a year to continue. With your help we can carry on collecting the information that is so essential for understanding the health of this sea bird population, the state of the marine environment, and for recognising the effects of climate change and oil pollution on the ecosystem.

The target is £12,000 for one year's research. So if 1000 people each donated £12.00 we would be secure for one more year. All the funds raised through this campaign will go towards the long term study of guillemots on Skomer: the university do not take any overhead or cut.

Please help this important study - Contribute here

Guardian article here 
Nature article here

Friends of Skokholm and Skomer recognised

At a ceremony in London, The Friends of Skokholm and Skomer  were awarded the Marsh Award for Local Ornithology in recognition of the huge amount of work they have done to put Skokholm Island back on to the British ornithological map.

Skokholm Island, off the coast of Pembrokeshire, is home to internationally important wildlife populations, and is particularly well known for its seabirds. It was the first Bird Observatory in Britian, but lost its Observatory status in 1976. The island was bought by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales in 2007, by which time the buildings and ‘birding’ infrastructure were in complete disrepair and non-functional. Thanks to the Friends this is no longer the case.  The work took four years to complete and almost 20,000 hours of voluntary labour.

The Friends are incredibly important to the islands of Skomer and Skokholm and since 1981 the membership has grown to over 400. Members help finance essential work on the islands through their subscriptions, but more importantly, many have taken part in voluntary work parties to help bring Skokholm back to its former glory and its return to official Bird Observatory status in 2014

Members of the Friends often act as voluntary wardens on both Skomer and Skokholm helping with practical maintenance tasks, wildlife recording and research studies and are currently engaged in digitising the daily bird logbooks which date back to 1933.

The award was presented by The Duke of Edinburgh at a ceremony hosted by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) at the Mall Gallery in London.

Steve Sutcliffe, the driving force behind the Friends and a former Skomer Warden said, "I am absolutely delighted that the hard work of the many volunteers who have helped to restore Skokholm has been recognised in this way.  The Friends of Skokholm and Skomer have been the catalyst, raising funds and providing a huge amount of support for the project, and I am honoured to receive this award on their behalf."

Andy Clements BTO Director said, "The Marsh Awards for Ornithology enable BTO to recognise the excellent work of ornithologists at a variety of scales, all of whom are partners with BTO in ensuring science contributes to conservation. Volunteering is central to BTO Science and I am delighted that the local Marsh Award is going to the Friends of Skokholm and Skomer whose hard work has rejuvenated a key migration watch-point."

The Friends of Skokholm and Skomer are a group of people who are enthusiastic and passionate about the Islands. We have some 440 members from all over Britain and a few from abroad. Mostly we are people who have visited the Islands and want to keep in touch with what is happening.

We support the Islands mainly through donations and volunteering. We organise work-parties, usually in the spring and autumn to maintain and repair the buildings, hides or anything else that needs doing. 
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