Monday, 5 December 2016

Pembrokeshire Life

This monthly magazine has an interesting article about the Skomer Guillemots in the December edition.  Written by Professor Tim Birkhead, who has studied the birds on Skomer for over 40 years, it is worth getting hold of if you can.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Some interesting historic stuff

For some time during the archive project we have had contact with a lifeboat historian and recently a former Skomer assistant, Andy Jones (1971 - 1975) has shed some light on Terry Davies's boat the Sharan which was in service to Skomer and Skokholm in the ;late 1960's up to the late 1970's when she sank on her moorings in Martins Haven.  so a bit of history :-

"We believe  Sharan was in fact the next Exmouth lifeboat ON-767 Catherine Harriet Eaton, a 35ft 6 Self Righter with a 35hp petrol engine (during service). She was sold in 1953.

The records are again very limited but there is a note from a previous archivist that states she was a ferry at Skomer named Sharan.

Your note about fishing boat number M210 would indicate her previous use before Terry purchased her (these boats were very popular conversions to fishing boats).

Unfortunately, i have had little luck with tracing old fishing boat numbers. M would probably specify Milford Haven. I will see if I can take that line any further. I will alter the records to show she was in use elsewhere prior to being used as a ferry, and include your article into her records.

I have attached a picture of her on service at Exmouth, you may be able to see that the wheel is in same place as on Sharan."

This second picture is the Sharan unloading passengers at Martins Haven at low tide - on the rocks!
and this is Andy's contribution:-
Sharan, a former Exmouth Lifeboat
Recollections from Andy Jones, assistant warden on Skomer
Island in the early 1970s.
In the late sixties and throughout the seventies Sharan ferried people
and stores to the Pembrokeshire islands of Skomer and Skokholm.
I first sailed on her in 1969 and the last time I travelled aboard her
was in 1975.
Between 1971 and 1974 I was the assistant warden on Skomer
Island, firstly as a volunteer, and latterly as an employee, of the West
Wales Naturalists' Trust. During these years I sailed on Sharan many,
many times and, not infrequently, acted as a crew member for the
skipper and owner, Terry Davies.
I recollect Terry telling me that the boat had been a RNLI lifeboat in
Exmouth before it was decommissioned and eventually bought by
him. I don't know where or how the vessel was used in the interim
but have a vague memory of Terry saying that she had been privately
owned and sailed. I do not know when Terry Davies acquired her or
whether it was he or another that converted her to a passenger boat.
Sharan was not in service on the Skomer run in May 1967 (the first
time I visited Skomer) so Terry started sometime between then and
June 1969 which was the first time I sailed on her.
Sharan was around 32 feet long and constructed from mahogany and
teak in a double diagonal style. I remember Terry saying that her keel
was cast iron and very heavy. She was fitted with a single screw
powered by a Ford (or Fordson) diesel engine. The helmsman
steered from a raised platform at the stern. The crossing from
Martin's Haven (the mainland port) to Skomer Island used to take
around 25 to 30 minutes meaning she travelled at around 7 to 8
knots. She was licensed by the Board of Trade for around 30
passengers and in the first couple of years I knew her she was a
registered fishing vessel — M210.
From my own research I initially thought Sharan was a Peake class
lifeboat possibly called Joseph Soames and was retired from RNLI
service in 1933. Further information and the sight of a photograph
from Richie, the archivist of the Lifeboat Enthusiasts' Society,
suggests very firmly that Sharan was in fact ON-767 Catherine Harriet
Eaton, retired from service in 1953. Sadly, I can shed no further light
happened between then and 1969 when I first sailed on her.
Terry Davies was a farmer at Maendewi, St Davids, Pembrokeshire as
well as the Skomer and Skokholm boatman. He was also a crew
member of the St David's RNLI lifeboat and awarded the RNLI's
'Thanks on Vellum' in 1962. Terry died in December 2006 (Obituary
in the Western Telegraph). One of Terry's regular crew was Malcolm
Gray, also from St Davids. Malcolm was for many years RNLI
coxswain of the St David's lifeboat. In the late seventies and early
eighties I believe Terry's son, Glyn Davies, regularly crewed for his
father on the Skomer boat. I know that Sharan sank on her mooring in
Martin's Haven.
Sharan was replaced by another former RNLI boat and was renamed
Arklow. I sailed on this boat only once during a quick visit to Skomer
in 1983 or 1984. I have no other details about this vessel.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Shearwater week continues!

Shearwater Week: The Manx Shearwater Experience is continuing on Skomer. This sold out event is bringing 5 groups out for 2 nights each to enjoy the world class wildlife experience that is the Manx Shearwater fledging season. 

As well as a couple of late nights getting out on the island to see first hand Shearwaters stretching their wings and departing on their epic journey to the coast of Argentina, the participants also get to find out what the groundbreaking research is uncovering about these amazing birds. As well as illustrative talks, they also get to be 'hands on' with the birds.

Younger and older participants alike were in awe of the birds, the dedication of the researchers and how close they were able to come to these wild creatures.

Keep an eye out on the WTSWW website for details of other events running this year on both Skokholm and Skomer, and keep your eyes peeled for next years events! 

 OXNav Group researcher Sarah briefs the group on how to weigh a Shearwater chick

Surprises popped up over the two days including 2 Wrynecks, an Icterine Warbler, a GS Woodpecker (a real rarity for Skomer), dozens of Common Dolphin, a sunfish and the opportunity to see some swallow chicks being ringed.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A Gannet

A few months ago Martin Lockley visited Pembrokeshire and Skokholm again and on his way home to America called in at Hay on Wye - a regular pilgrimage for an avid map and book collector.  This time he bumped into a taxidermist who was selling a gannet and he bought it and donated it to Skokholm.

It now sits in the library on the island.  We don't know where it came from originally and it may migrate to the lighthouse where there is more space but just maybe its a Grassholm gannet.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Skokholm Inspired Art

ob•serve – colours of an island

An exhibition of new work by artist Linda Norris.

The Tower, Oriel y Parc, St Davids, Pembrokeshire

2nd July – 31st August • 9.30–4.30 daily

The work in this exhibition is rooted in a study of the landscape, colours and wildlife of Skokholm Island, Pembrokeshire, which Linda Norris undertook as Artist in Residence on the island in 2015. The exhibition shows the process by which the artist examined observation as the root of scientific and artistic enquiry and adopted scientific methodologies to collect and analyse colour in the landscape.

This project was funded by the Arts Council of Wales with support from Dale Sailing Co., Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Wildlife Trust South and West Wales, and the wardens of Skokholm Island.

More details at

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Fundraising for the islands

Last year Dave Astins swam from Marloes beach to Skokholm to raise funds for the Observatory and enabled the island to acquire a whole set of portable radio's which have revolutionised communications (and birding) on the island.

Dave is now doing another marathon event and competing in the Ironman Wales event this year aiming to raise funds for Skomer and Skokholm whilst doing so, as he writes below. We thought you might like to consider supporting Dave and hopefully exceed his target. Not many birders put their body on the line in support of our avian friends, so perhaps we could put our hands in our wallets as a somewhat easier option.

I am taking part in Ironman Wales on 18th September and have decided to do something useful (other than ruin my body) whilst doing it....I'd be grateful if you'd chip a few quid into my fundraising pot (my money will go to the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales, and split equally between the amazing islands of Skomer & Skokholm off the Pembrokeshire coast to help with the amazing work they do to monitor and protect the special wildlife that occurs there).  I'm targeting £2,260 (£10 for every kilometre I will hopefully cover....some will be easier than others):

The link to help with this amazing (or completely mad) fundraising event is :-

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Opticron Event at Lockley Lodge

Gary and Chrissy at Lockley Lodge have asked us to advertise an Opticron Open Day at Lockley Lodge next Tuesday.  There will be opportunities to look at (and through) a wide range of first class Opticron optical equipment - telescopes and binoculars,.

If you in the market for new kit it may be a good time to get down there.  There may even be some bargains!

Monday, 9 May 2016

An old picture in the archives

there are now over 600 pictures in the People's Collection of Wales archives and we have been busy updating the captions and making corrections but please have a look at them and comment if you see anything wrong.

Mike Alexander, a past Skomer warden, recently came across this picture in the Pembrokeshire Archives. We believe it is Captain Vaughan Palmer Davies (1826-1914),  with the big white beard, patting the red deer calf outside the Skokholm cottage and the picture was probably taken in 1889 .  The Captain who was the tenant of Skomer Island from 1861 to 1892 also rented Skokholm for grazing.  The deer calf was a bit of a surprise.

There is a good summary of the Skomer history on   which is worth a read if you haven't looked at it before.

In recent months many new (old) pictures of Skokholm have emerged including ones taken in 1948 showing the old railway track going right down to the jetty at which time there was no wall alongside the track and some from 1954 showing the same views.  By 1954 Trinity House had  put a three wheel dumper type truck onto the island and had built the current wall all the way up the track - and also probably dumped that load of concrete over the cliff into the cave below the track.  these pictures will be on the People's Collection shortly.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Wardens Back

Yesterday in almost perfect conditions the Skokholm wardens  returned. 

With the help of John Reynolds and the Dale Princess  from Neyland with an occasional Guillemot, Razorbill and Kittiwake seen on the passage it only took ten minutes or so to unload the boat and we could head up to the buildings for a quick condition check.  There was no damage anywhere and inside almost no signs of mould or damp damage - amazing after this stormy wet winter.  The dumper started almost immediately, although looking quite sad,  and Richard & Giselle were very happy indeed to be back on the island and looking forward to their four weeks of relative isolation.  No doubt the blog will start again as soon as they sort out their internet connection.  Helpers included Liz Thompson (formerly Gynn) who was warden exactly 35 years ago. 

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Changes to the booking system for the Islands

A quick note to let you know the changes that are going to take place to the booking system for Skomer and Skokholm, Sarah Kessel CEO of the Trust asked us to pass on the following message:

From the end of March, Wendy (the person who usually takes the bookings) will  working part time and the  bookings will be moving to the membership team at Tondu.   There is a great deal of work to do to manage the change-over, including information on the website etc.  There will inevitably be some disruption during and for a while after the handover process, so please bear with us as we make these changes.   I think that once the changeover has been done and the new team is up to speed, it will be easier to consider the possibility of future online booking. 

Friday, 12 February 2016

The hottest ticket in town this weekend...

If you haven't booked already, I am afraid you have missed out this year! Put 19 Feb 2017 in your diary and look out for booking details later in the year.

A reminder, if you have booked, the programme starts at 10.30am, but tea and coffee is available before hand.

A reminder of the location: The Tithe Barn, Bishops Cleeve, Cheltenham GL52 8LU, map here:

Friday, 5 February 2016

Final, final chance to book!

We have to get our numbers to the caterers early next week, so please complete you booking form and let Carol know by email (see the form for details) that the form and payment are on their way to her, it's looking like a great day out, don't miss it!

More details here... 

Friday, 29 January 2016

Last Chance to book a place for the Friends of Skokholm and Skomer Reunion !!

Hello Friends

We need to confirm numbers for the Reunion. You have just a few more days to book your place for this 2016 Reunion. It is excellent value, a day full of interesting talks and lunch is included!

Find the booking form below and hurry hurry !! See programme below

Click here for the booking form

Programme :

Update on Trust events Sarah Kessel CEO
Skomer warden report Ed and Bee Stubbings
Skokholm warden report Richard Brown and Giselle Eagle
Skokholm Bird Logs 1927-to the digital age Phil Blatcher
Summary of the Archive project Carol Collins
Skokholm Photographs: archiving project Anna Sutcliffe



Should I stay or should I go? The effect of body condition on the incubation routine of Manx Shearwaters Natasha Gillies
Individual vocalisations of shearwaters and storm petrels: The story so far
Alan Wilkins & Nick Davison
Digging and Dating: A New Story of Ancient Skomer
Toby Driver and Louise Baker
"Ob.serve" -an Artists view- Linda Norris
Summary Tim Healing

Sunday, 10 January 2016

The new Skokholm Book

John Walmsley our treasurer is getting quite a lot of enquiries for the new Lockley book but I got his address slightly wrong and it is just possible some letters may go to the next door holiday cottage so here are his correct details>-

John Walmsley
School House
SA62 3BQ
01646 636995
07767 873561
Also if you have not yet booked for the annual get together at The Tithe Barn in Bishops Cleeve, near Cheltenham on 14th February  please do so quickly.