Coronavirus & West Coast Birdwatching

2020 was a challenging year for all of us, to say the least!  My planned programme of trips, including:

  • Skomer & Skokholm Islands
  • The best bits of the Pembrokeshire mainland
  • Outdoor learning courses for the Field Studies Council at Dale Fort, and
  • Overseas tours including Oman & Lanzarote

all fell to the effects of the virus and the restrictions that came with it.

I count myself lucky that I was able to find alternative employment during this time.  I am nothing if not adaptable!  In between lockdowns I did manage some half-day local trips close to my home here in Pembrokeshire – they were blissful!

How 2021 will pan out in terms of birdwatching trips is currently unclear.  You will not be surprised to learn I am not planning any overseas trips.  Some Pembrokeshire trips may be possible, but they will be limited due to the restrictions in place in Wales for at least some of the year (remember, some of the Welsh rules will be different to the rest of the UK).

Pembrokeshire mainland

These MAY be able to take place as restrictions lift.  However, it is likely that for most (if not all) of the year, I will be unable to share the same vehicle as my guests.  This will alter the experience where driving between sites is required.  In 2020, I found that half-days, visiting a couple of sites close together, worked really well.  If you are interested in birdwatching on the mainland between May and September then please get in touch.

Skokholm Island

I have one residential trip planned for May (fully booked) which will almost certainly not go ahead.  I am not planning any other guided trips to this stunning island.  More information on Skokholm Island can be found here: https://www.welshwildlife.org/skomer-skokholm/skokholm/

Skomer Island

Skomer did not open to visitors at all during 2020.  Various Coronavirus restrictions, not least social distancing, will continue to affect visiting the island in 2021.

Residential:  my two April spring migration trips (which were sold out) for the Wildlife Trust South & West Wales (WTSWW) have been cancelled, as the shared accommodation cannot operate safely under current restrictions.  It is unclear at the moment whether the autumn migration trips (4-7 & 18-21 September) will be able to go ahead, either in their planned form, or some variation.  Watch this space.

Day trips: I am due to lead 8 day trips for WTSWW on Mondays between May and July. These were all carried over from 2020: some were sold out; others had a few spaces remaining when they were postponed.  Should conditions allow, these will go ahead, but the final decision will be with the WTSWW.  For more information, please contact them directly: islands@welshwildlife.org.

Unfortunately, I think it unlikely that I will be able to lead any private trips to Skomer this year. When, and if, day trips re-start, it is likely that passenger numbers will be limited and therefore the chances of me being able to secure tickets will be reduced.  If you are interested in day trips to Skomer, please follow me on Twitter or Facebook for any updates.

Until we meet (again)….

Dave Astins, West Coast Birdwatching, 21 March 2021