Finally caught up with myself to write this short report – it’s been a busy autumn already! September 14th-16th saw the first ever West Coast Birdwatching residential, leading an autumn 2-day trip to Skomer Island on behalf of the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales. This followed 3 sell-out day trips in June & July (see previous posts for details of those).
8 people had booked on to this trip, which turned out to be the perfect sized group. We stayed in the bunkhouse accommodation at the farm, which has a mixture of accommodation (for more details see http://www.welshwildlife.org/overnight-accommodation-on-skomer/). The accommodation was comfortable, I was surprised to find hot and cold running water in the rooms and also 2 showers! Luxury indeed for island living. The kitchen was well equiped and the 9 of us coped perfectly well all trying to cook at the same time. The lounge/dining room was spacious and equipped with a nice log burner (which we didn’t need in the end) and a little library.
The weather was just stunning – light south-easterly winds and bright sunshine more or less constantly – it was short-sleeves for most of each day! We spent our time covering the whole island, everyone spending as much time in the field as they wanted (I was available dawn until dusk, and even after dusk!) looking for migrants and seeking out the Skomer specials. We amassed a total of 69 species, which was impressive given the breeding season was (mostly) over. Click here for the 2014-09 Skomer Autumn Special Bird List. Highlight for all of us was the Wryneck at Bull Hole, quite apt really as we had used a Wryneck photo from a previous September on the poster for the trip! Also the wind conditions had pushed an unusual number of migrant Whinchats to the island, and the immature Garganey was subtle but enjoyed by all.
Another highlight was getting out after dark and seeing Manx Shearwaters, all young birds getting ready to leave the island for the first time. Magic!
The trip received such good feedback that not only is it back in 2015, but has been extended to 3 nights (19th-22nd September) and a spring edition has also been added (18th-21st April)! Bookings open on Monday 6th October 2014 exclusively for members of the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales. See http://www.welshwildlife.org/overnight-accommodation-on-skomer/ for more details and also this poster Birdwatching weekends poster 2015 6th Oct. Non-members can book from 20th October. Look forward to seeing you on one of the trips!