Yes, I am back again on the Island of Skomer, one of my favourite places where I seem to be fortunate enough to be spending sometime here this year as well as Skokholm its small sister island. During my week the weather was excellent which of course results in many day visitors to the island. As many as 300 on the Saturday. All needed revenue for the Wildlife Trust and if you are holidaying in Pembrokeshire and wildlife is your thing please do spent a day on the island. It will be a day you will not forget.
One of the problems of day visitors is some species like the little owl will hide away all day long and only pop their heads up when human traffic has quietened down in the evening. It a shame in a way because visitors come to see the owls as well as Puffins
This year I am only aware of one pair of Little Owls. There was definitely two last year because I was privileged enough to have seen them. I do think we probably lost the other pair to the bad winter we had. Anyway the pair we have seem to be doing fine.
This pair is nesting on the walls around the North Pond area and knowing the approximate area sooner or later I new I would get lucky and have a wonderful photographic opportunity. Wildlife photography at its best. They are so obliging, and if you approach them very slowly and quietly they will watch you and let you get close enough for a good picture. Any sudden movements and they are gone.
Whitethroats are very numerous at the moment and the parents are very active catching food for their young. Just as the owls, find a spot where there seems to be activity, set up the camera on a tripod and just stand quietly and wait and you will be surprised how close they will get to you. Again no sudden movements or they will be off.
I particularly like this shot with the caterpillar in its beak. This picture is cropped slightly but the full frame shot would have been just as good. It came that close, in fact the closest I have ever been to one except those I handle when bird ringing.
I find the Sedge Warbler tends not to be as trusting and keeps its distance but there again close enough t get a reasonable photograph. I just love the singing of this beautiful bird.
I was with a friend one day who said I have just heard a Sedge singing like a Swallow. I asked him how did he know it wasn’t a swallow he heard. His answer was because I was watching it. I felt a little daft but learnt on that day that the Sedge Warbler is excellent at mimicking other birds.
Jackdaws as well as most of the corvids are difficult to photograph because of their black feathers which rarely show detail. I took this picture on the Wick and the light shining on him was perfect, I could see all the detail and feel lucky to have got such a good photograph.
I know these are fun shots, but I do like to photograph rabbits especially when they are slightly different from the norm. Something caught their eye, maybe a Greater Black Backed Gull was flying about.
They have such beautiful markings and are so distinctive other than sometimes they can be confused with the Skylark.
Immature Pied Wagtail. You can still see the yellow on the beak from when it was in the nest. The colours are warmer than what most people would expect to see. This is because I took this picture just as the sun was eventually setting. Taken from the North hide.
Another evening shot of the Reed Bunting taken in North Valley
This was a memorable moment for me. I watching the Gannets hoping they would start to dive for fish, which they did, although I did not manage to photograph this. This is the clue, usually when they do this the Porpoise and Dolphins are not far way.
I had to wait for about 20 minutes and a couple of Porpoise arrived in the distance, far to far away for a decent shot but on their second showing they were a lot closer and I got my first ever Porpoise picture. I love this photograph with the Puffins watching it as he searches for fish. A while afterwards I had my biggest surprise ever below me. Swimming past on its side was a ………………….
…..Sunfish. I am not posting this picture for its photographic qualities, but, out of interest for this not uncommon fish which is rarely sean in our coastal waters. Sunfish are occasionally seen by visitors to Skomer on the boat from the mainland. I have never seen one until last week and took this picture of this magnificent fish standing at the Garland Stone. Visitors to the Island will know where I mean. I am told this is the first sighting this year.
It is the heaviest boney fish in the world and has an average weight of 2,200lbs. It is generally found in tropical and temperate oceans. It is best described as a fish head with tail and fins. They live on nutritionally poor jellyfish and have to eat enormous amounts to maintain their weight.It is believed that surface basking behaviour in which a sunfish swims on its side, presenting its largest profile to the sun, may be a method of “thermally recharging” after diving into deep colder water. It is also thought that sightings of the fish in colder waters outside of its usual habitat, such as the southwest of Wales, is evidence of increasing marine temperatures. View on black and it looks as if there is an apparition of another fish behind its dorsal fin.