Hi,I have a few days booked to stay overnight on skomer island in late april :t:.
Does anyone no if the short eared owls are resident all year round or if they will be here in late april ? If anyone has stayed over i would be grateful for any advice on essentials etc to take.
Thanks in advance for any replies.
Last year one of my volunteer weeks was from 24th April for one week. Going for overnights breaks are good especially for the Manx Shearwater.
I will tell you about the guest accommodation first. The island is dependent on solar power for its electricity. They do have an oil fired generator as back up so there should be no problem with hot water and lighting and power for charging batteries for cameras etc.
I'm afraid the bedrooms do not have en-suite bathrooms but all those sort of facilities are fine in the shared bathroom.
The kitchen has two cookers which are gas fired and are fine. There is also a fridge freezer which is again gas fired and this is OK as well. You will have no problems with your general living requirements as long as you are not expecting to be staying in a central heated carpeted 5* hotel. It is not that, you are living on an island with minimum resources. and everything you need is there.
Food. Unless you are young like some of the volunteers who seem to manage on beer and fags you will need the following. Remember you have a fridge. I have been to the island 9 times now and always look forward to my next visit on May 14th. For a week provisions I look at each meal and work out what I will require. At home for breakfast I have toast and marmalade so I take a thick sliced bread which has 16 slices, marmalade and butter. Two rounds per breakfast with some left over. I also take 8 bananas 1 for each breakfast and 1 left over. I drink tea and coffee. I take two, two pints of fresh milk and keep them in the fridge with the bread.
For lunch I snack and take biscuits, pot noodle, muller rice, that sort of thing, again enough for 7 days. Evening meal I take rice and pasta and packets of sources for each with a couple of onions and chicken breast or whatever is your favourite chopped up and added to the source. I tend to alternate nightly with each.
I also take some chocolate, peanuts and sweets. Things like salt and pepper you will find there. Take your own tea towel.
To sum up try to make your food supply as light as possible, no tinned food or jars if possible. They are heavy to carry and at some stage on and off the boat for example you will have to lift it all. Do take an extra days worth of food because if the weather is bad it may be the case that the boat cannot sail on the day you expect to leave the island.
Clothes wise, take waterproofs including trousers and stiff walking shoes or boots. If you get soaking wet there is no way to dry anything, also ensure you have warm clothing. There are no trees or shelter when you are out and about and could easily get caught in bad weather. Nights are cold and more often than not in April I have to sleep fully clothed to keep warm. A hot water bottle may be worth considering. That's the boring bit over.
Camera equipment, I am assuming you like birds, other wildlife and plants and lanscapes.
I am probably fortunate to have a canon 500f4. People say you do not need a lens this big on the island, believe me if you have one take it. Besides the sea birds there are plenty of small birds as well, this is where the big lens comes in handy. For the sea birds I can get away most of the time with my 70-200 zoom. I also take a 1.4 extender for greater reach and extension tubes for macro work. I have two camera bodies and spare batteries and charger for every thing. I do take a 18-70 lens as well because there is some interesting landscapes to picture and the sunsets from the Trig point are amazing. Take plenty of memory cards with you. If you can get up at 5.00am the sunrises are spectacular as well. A must have are binoculars for obvious reasons and you will need a torch. It is black as black at night. Also night time if the weather is rough is the best time to go and see the Shearwaters and a torch is necessary for this and also to ensure you do not tread on all the toads.
Best places for bird picture are.
Guillimots and Razorbills - the right hand side of the steps coming up from the boat. You will see them all over the island but will not get closer than this. The puffins on the Wick walk literally 4 or 5 feet away from you. The Little Owl is resident on the rock outcrop on the left hand side of the path as you approach the farm (accommodation) on level ground. As the outcrop starts there is a gap in the wall. This is his favourite place. The short eared owls you will find flying around North Stream which is on the way to the Garland stone. Lots of Warbers some Redstart and Whinchat from Moory Mere hide. North pond hide can produce Shoveler Teal Shellduck all the gulls but probably too far to photograph. There was a Hoopoe and a Turtle Dove around the farm last year as well. However other birds come and go. Get yourself invited at 9.00pm every evening to Bird log at the wardens accommodation. This is the large building you can see from the boat as you approach the island. His name is Chris and he usually gives you a talk once you get off the boat, Great guy and he will welcome your input. The blue bells will be showing when you get there but you will be a little early for the best display, the red campions will be out as well.
A good time of year to visit is April and I wish I was there with you but In two weeks 19th March I am going to Skokholm Island for 5 weeks. If you need more information don't be shy, I am happy to help. Let me know how you go on. Oh, during the week I clocked 53 different species so there is plenty to go at including other raptors like HenHarrier, Peregrine Kestrel and Sparrow Hawk.