Skokholm

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Skokholm Island lying south of the neighbouring Skomer Island, is situated around 2.5 miles off the spectacular Pembrokeshire Coast.

The name ‘Skokholm’ is Norse for ’Wooded Island’. Skokholm is around a third of the size of Skomer, covering 260 acres. It is bounded by spectacular cliffs of old red sandstone that climb from 70 feet in the north-east to 160 feet in the south-west.

It is a National & Marine Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and part of the Skomer and Skokholm Special Protection Area.

Consistently battered by storms, the high cliffs, and isolated nature of the island make it a haven for breeding seabirds.

In spring and summer Skokholm comes alive with huge populations of seabirds. Up to 5000 Puffins hustle and bustle about their burrows, while the cliffs and ledges are adorned with thousands of Razorbills and Guillemots, and up to 100 pairs of Fulmars.

Skokholm (together with Skomer) is home to the largest concentration of Manx Shearwaters in the world, with an estimated 45,000 breeding pairs on this island alone. Shearwaters spend their days out at sea fishing, before returning to the island under the cover of darkness to avoid any potential predators.

And they are not alone in their nocturnal activities, Storm Petrels also wait for the safety of darkness before returning to the island. Skokholm supports an estimated 5,000 pairs of Storm Petrels – as much as 20% of the European population.

Aside from seabirds, Skokholm is also perfectly situated to attract passage migrants. Spring and autumn on the island see thousands of migrant birds passing through, such as European breeding warblers, flycatchers, pipits and thrushes to name but a few.

Atlantic Grey seals are present in the waters around the Island throughout the year in large numbers, and are regularly seen basking on rocks at low water. Close inshore there are daily sightings of Harbour Porpoise, and regular sightings of common, bottlenose and Risso’s Dolphins.

The pioneering ornithologist Ronald Lockley moved to Skokholm in November 1927, and soon began studies into the then little understood Manx shearwater, along with other seabirds. Lockley, who helped establish the West Wales Field Society, the forerunner of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, started the UK’s first ever Bird Observatory on the Island in 1933.

Ownership of Skokholm has changed over the years, but in 2006 the island was purchased by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, who also manage Skomer Island, and is now once again operated as a Bird Observatory.

Near the centre of the island is a Grade II listed Cottage, originally renovated by Lockley, then in 2012, renovated by a team of dedicated Friends and Volunteers. Close by to the Cottage there are also converted farm buildings that shelter in the lee of a rocky outcrop. Together these provide basic but comfortable accommodation for up to 20 residential visitors.

The timber used for the original renovation was from the Alice Williams; a ship which sank off the island in 1928. The figurehead was salvaged by Lockley, and displayed on the cliff top in Skokholm’s South Haven. However, after many years exposed to the elements, the originalis now preserved within the dining room of the cottage, and a replica stands in its place, made by the local artist Sean Kehoe.

The island geology is volcanic rock and sandstone with gorgeous coloured splashes of various threatened species of lichen on the rock surfaces. The vegetation is wind-pruned and trimmed by rabbits, but inedible plants like thrift and sea campion provide carpets of colour in spring and early summer.

At the south-western tip of Skokholm stands a magnificent lighthouse, now unmanned and powered by solar panels, it is home to the wardens as well as visiting ringers and researchers.

 

We offer a number of different ways to experience Skokholm:

There are no day trips to land on Skokholm, but you can stay on Skokholm for either 3 or 4 nights, from April to September. Bookings to stay on the island are taken by The Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales.

For full details, and to book you stay please follow the link below:

http://welshwildlife.org/uncategorized/staying-on-skokholm/

 

We also offer the option to experience Skokholm from the water, enjoying a high speed wildlife adventure on one of our Sea Safaris.

Not sure which trip is for you? Simply give us a call and we’ll be delighted to talk you through the various options . . . 01646 603123

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