Posted 22nd Feb 2016
The much-anticipated LandLove Awards have been handed out and we're celebrating our countryside champions, as voted for by you, by chatting to some of the winners
Today, we're sitting down with the winner of Britain's favourite nature reserve, Skomer Island. Surrounded by some of Britain's richest waters for wildlife, the Island is well known for its dolphins and seals, while also hosts the world's largest Manx shearwater colony.
Congratulations on winning Britain's favourite nature reserve. How do you feel about winning it?
Thank you! We were delighted to have been the only Welsh Nature Reserve nominated in this classification but to actually win this accolade especially as competition within the category was so high feels amazing! We’d like to thank our dedicated team of staff, volunteers and researchers for all their hard work year on year and to everyone that took the time to vote Skomer Island as the UK’s favourite Nature Reserve!
What do you think set you apart from the rest?
Skomer is definitely the jewel in the crown when it comes to wildlife in and around the UK. The island is home to an abundance of amazing wildlife and is internationally important for its seabird populations. Its without a doubt it is the best place to see seabirds in southern Britain. Visitors have the unique opportunity to get within a few feet of Pembrokeshire’s beautiful Puffins during the day and watch the island come to life after dark as hundreds of thousands of Manx Shearwaters return to the island in search of their burrows. Skomer actually has the worlds largest population of Manx Shearwaters. During the spring the island is covered in a carpet of Bluebells so vast that the island appears blue, a spectacular site not to be missed. A shade of pink is added to the island’s colour during the summer as swathes of Red Campion cloak the landscape.
Do you have any upcoming plans or projects we can share with our readers?
We are fortunate to work with many brilliant scientists from across the UK on Skomer, so the island is always alive with new projects and new ideas. One of the most important is our monitoring and survey work which tells us how each of the seabird species is faring, and ensures that we are doing the right things to protect them for the future. Our field worker Elisa will spend all summer sitting out on the cliffs studying species like our Guillemots and Razorbills to assess how their numbers are changing, and how successfully they are breeding. We will also be hosting scientists from Oxford University who have been working on Skomer for many years and who will be using cutting edge tracking technology to study what these amazing birds do whilst they are at sea. Researchers visit us to study many different aspects of the island though, so we hope to host archaeologists as well as biologists this year. No two days are the same!
What can our readers expect to see and do around the island at this time of year (or from when they're open if not already)?
Skomer is an amazing place to visit and stay for a unique wildlife adventure. The island officially opens to visitors on Friday 25th March until the end of September 2016. In the spring and early summer, visitors will can expect to meet migrant birds and witness the first landings of Puffins to the island, watch amorous displays of Guillemots and Razorbills. Atlantic Grey Seals gather to moult at North Haven beach entertaining visitors with their squabbles during the day and singing during the night. Rabbits and Short-eared Owls are particularly active throughout the day. During the summer months we encourage visitors to keep an eye out for Dolphins and Harbour Porpoises playing in the turquoise waters around the Garland Stone and the unique Skomer Vole! Skomer is one of the best places to experience the nocturnal Manx Shearwaters, and see Seal Pups during August and September. Wildlife enthusiast, photographers, walkers and visitors who are looking to find a sense of adventure instantly fall in love with Skomer! For a truly WILD night why not book an overnight stay and relax in comfort at our visitor accommodation or wander off to find the perfect spot to watch one the islands amazing sunsets.
For further details on our 2016 events, visiting and staying on Skomer please visit www.welshwildlife.org or follow us on Facebook Skomer Island Twitter @skomer_island.
Images courtesy of Mike Penny / H.J.H. Hettchen / L. Maiden