I recently returned from my first visit to Skomer, an island off the coast of Pembrokeshire in Wales. Once used as a remote farm, Skomer is now a Wildlife Trust reserve. Back in January I booked myself three nights in the converted farm building, with the hope of photographing the island’s famous puffin colony, as well as razorbills and guillemots. For a while it looked like the non-arrival of spring might leave me on a puffinless island, but the weather turned just in time, and I found myself on a sunbaked Skomer, watching Puffins returning to select their mates and burrows.
Puffin | 200mm, ISO 320, 1/1600s at f/4.0
Pair of Puffins | 130mm, ISO 250, 1/2000s at f/2.8
I caught a fish this big… | 200mm, ISO 400, 1/2500s at f/3.5
Guillemot | 380mm, ISO 640, 1/3200s at f/7.1
Razorbill | 400mm, ISO 400, 1/1000s at f/8.0
Skomer doesn’t just offer a chance to view seabirds. As well as appearances from the islands populations of kestrels, merlins, peregrine falcons and buzzards, my visit also coincided with rare visits from both a montagu and pallid harrier (a potential first for Wales). There was also plenty of opportunity to watch oystercatchers, wheatears, whimbrels, the occasional inquisitive seal, short eared owls and an excess of gulls.
Chough | 400mm, ISO 320, 1/500s at f/8.0
Merlin | 400mm, ISO 640, 1/1250s at f/7.1
I took the return boat with a certain sadness, having thoroughly enjoyed myself over the three preceeding days; cut off from the rest of the world, and nothing to do but take photos. I've barely scratched the surface of sorting the 2000 photos I returned with, but I'm already plotting a 2014 journey! For anyone in the lower half of the UK, I really can't recommend a visit enough.