We went on a day trip! Having a week off from grandchildren-minding Husband came up with the unusual idea of a day trip - he's normally too busy in the garden to spare the time. we umm-ed and aah-ed about where to go and eventually settled for Skomer Island, off west Wales, a Wildlife Trust property and haven for sea-birds, especially at this time of year, puffins.
We caught the boat for the 10 minute journey here at Martin's Cove. See the queue on the path at the side.
On the journey across I was excited enough as puffins flew past. Imagine my thrill on seeing these just up the steps from the landing place!
For some reason - I blame the publishers and the association with penguins - I didn't expect puffins to fly ... no, I don't have a photo of one in flight but take my word for it they do. (I know you'd never thought they didn't.)
Anyway the island and one section in particular was swarming with puffins. It's not until one is standing with serious bird-watchers and photographers with lenses the length of Mumbles Pier that one becomes so acutely aware of one's tendency to squeak when excited.
But, honestly, who wouldn't be excited when you have a puffin within arm's length? Or bunnies hopping everywhere? Or a seal in the bay or a porpoise in the wake of the boat? And the birds and bunnies were quite unconcerned about all the human interest. The island is a mass of burrows for rabbits and sea-birds like the puffins who fly in with a mouth full of sand eels and zip into their burrow to feed their fledglings.
Skomer Island is home to over 10,000 breeding puffins, the biggest colony in southern Britain. It also has the largest breeding population of Manx Shearwaters in the world - over 120,000 pairs. The Manx Shearwaters spend the day either in their burrows or at sea fishing so the only sign we saw of them was the huge number of remains scattered along the paths: victims of the predatory Great Black-backed gulls. (I'm not sure if my photo is of the Great Black or the Lesser Black.) In one section there were lots of rabbit remains too: they are vicious birds. Oh we did see a fledgeling in its burrow thanks to the live web-cam.
This is a normal healthy puffin just lacking colouration. The warden said it was a bit of a star, coming out each day to be photographed.
A guillemot (above) and razor-bills (below).
The boat coming back to pick up passengers.
It's hard to believe, when on the secluded and peaceful - apart from bird squawking noises - island that just round the coast is the large oil refinery port of Milford Haven. There were several tankers anchored in the natural deep waterway to the north of the island.It was a very tired but happy Lizzie at the end of the day, worn out with all the squeaking and skipping and galloping. More day trips, please.