Wednesday, 9 December 2015

"The island took my heart"

I genuinely can't remember a week I have ever enjoyed as much as this. I have dreamed about this place for at least 5 years and applied the last three years I think and missed the deadline every time. I finally got a place this time.

I stayed in a little village called Marloes, the day before as I was sailing early the next morning. Marloes was lush and I went for a walk to nearby Marloes sands, as it was a nice afternoon and I knew I could see Skomer from there. 

I took this great book that a dear friend got me as a present before coming away, it a fictional thriller set in a bee hive I can't recommend it highly enough or the gift of giving a book, as it really if the gift that keeps on giving! The Bees by Laline Paull.

I had a paddle and sat on the rocks and read a few chapters. I head back to find some dinner and a few pints at the Lobsterpot. I had vegan drunken mushroom pie, sauteed potatoes, peas, salad and a pint of rockhopper penguin, banging! I sat in the beer garden til late reading and drinking.

I stayed at the Albion B&B super kitsch and lush. 

I was up at the crack of dawn for cereal, toast and coffee and a frog march down to the landing with all my gear for a week. Two nice fellows who were off for a morning dip picked me up as they felt sorry for me walking with all my kit.

I was first to the landing and went straight down to wait for the boat. I was soon joined by other volunteers who were going out for the week also and some overnight guests for the hostel. There were seals in the water already.

The boat sailed at 9 sharp, after loading the gear on-board felt a bit sea sick having not used my "Sea legs" (RIP Blackbeard) for a while. Loved the no smoking sign which said "No Puffin" with a picture of a Puffin smoking a pipe! 

The crossing was really quick, painless and incredible views of the coastline, puffins in the water as well.

Obligatory Boat selfie

We walked up to the farm complex at the centre of the island where we would be staying. We got straight to unpacking and making beds I bought some particularly fetching bedding just for the occasion.

The accommodation is basic, but awesome, the setting is unreal! we have a briefing with Jason the assistant warden about the remainder of the day and how the duties work for the rest of the week.

Myself and my buddy Joe are on Patrol so we get to have a good mosey around the island and then we are on visitor engagement at the Wick with a scope on the cliff.

The views of Puffins, Fulmar and Kittwake, from the cliff were insane puffins literally came and landed right in front of you, they also did some impressive fly-bys too.

That evening and pretty much every evening we sat around after dinner as a group playing cards, playing Taboo, Jenga, Scrabble and the post it note name on the head game.

I was amazed by how close the Puffins will actually come in order to get back to their burrows.

Juvenile peregrine taken through the scope with my IPhone from the Wick.

Fellow Volunteers Joe, Charlie and Will at the trig point.

Exploring the island at dusk with the lads.

All the work on the island is still done manually, which I found not only massively improved my well-being, but I also lost 4 inches off my waist. Here's me being the not so grim reaper scything the paths by hand.

The Castaway Beard is really starting to take shape now!

One evening I got to help the research students living on the island to weigh and feed the Manx Shearwater chicks. This guy was my favorite, despite being the smallest he was super feisty, earning him the nickname Biting Sh*t, which I thought was awesome. 

Reptile survey counting slow worms.

Counting cetaceans from Skomer head at dusk with the group, mostly porpoise. Saw our first Short eared Owl at dusk on the walk back, on our last night on the island, after looking all week unsuccessfully.

The Manx Shearwater at night is one of the most unforgettable wildlife experiences of my entire life. The sound they make as they come in for the night is blood curdling and really eerie, you sit on the bench at the landing in complete darkness, and the birds start flying in to land all around you in their hundreds. They are really beautiful, but very very clumsy.

Skomer vole survey, these are endemic to the island and are not found anywhere else in the world.

Panoramic view from the island, it's so beautiful here.

Common Toad are literally everywhere at night on the island

We swam at the landing point on our last day, after finishing our last shift all together. There were Seals swimming in the water so amazing, the next day a pod of 200+ dolphins passed right through where we were swimming.

This is my favourite Puffin shot from my visit, I tried all week to get the classic shot with the sand eels in the beak.

Jason managed to get a Convolvolous Hawk Moth which he was kind enough to bring to show us, we also got to see what other species he had caught I was particularly amazed by the Sexton beetle.

One of my other fave shots of a Raven flying past scavenging.

I truly can't recommend Residential volunteering enough for improving personal well-being, or just visiting this truly wondrous island for the day or an overnight stay at the hostel, but be warned you like me my lose your heart to an island too. 

I'm already booked to go back next year!


No comments:

Post a Comment