Skomer is an enchanting island with just about everything an island nature reserve should include. It is the second largest island in Wales, after Anglesey, and one of the most important wildlife sites in Europe.
Skomer lies just off the Pembrokeshire coast, separated from the mainland by the turbulent waters of the Jack Sound. Skomer measures 2 miles, east to west; and almost 1.5 miles, north to south.
The central ridge of the island reaches 260 feet high. Skomer is owned by the Countryside Commission for Wales (CCW) and leased by them to the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. For nine months of the year, a warden lives on the island.
Half a million seabirds nest here each year.
For bird watchers, this makes it one of the best sites to visit in Europe, especially during Springtime, when the bluebells and coastal flowers (sea and red campion, pink thrift) present a wonderful coloured carpet for the birds to land on.
The sheer cliffs support Guillemots (14,000 individuals), Kittiwakes (2,000 pairs), Razorbills (3,500 individuals) and Fulmars (700 pairs). Midland Island, which separates Skomer and the mainland, is home to a colony of Shags (over 30 pairs). About 16 pairs of Cormorants nest on the Mew Stone, to the south of the island.
Perhaps the most popular bird to observe on Skomer is the comical “Pembrokeshire Parrot”, the Puffin; over 6000 pairs breed on the island each year; the first to arrive in 2005 were spotted on 19th March. The world’s largest colony of Manx Shearwaters (over 150,000 breeding pairs), is also resident.
These birds return to their burrows in early May each year, rearing a single chick, before travelling to South Atlantic fishing grounds in September; in 2005, the first Shearwater arrived on 6th March.
On Skomer’s heath and grassland, Lesser Black Backed Gulls nest (11,000 pairs), together with Great Black Backed (over 80 pairs) and Herring Gulls (460 pairs). Curlews, Short-Eared Owls (who prey on the unique Skomer Vole), Buzzards, Kestrels, Peregrine and Oystercatchers also make their home here.
The beaches are a year round home to one of the largest seal colonies in the southwest (up to 200).
Skomer’s waters are Wales’ only statutory Marine Nature Reserve, and one of only three in the United Kingdom. Coral grows offshore, fed by the rich flow of the warm Gulf Stream. Over seventy species of sponges have been recorded here.
Apart from strolling around the island, the best way to see the wildlife is undoubtedly from the sea. Cruise around Skomer with Pembrokeshire Boat Charters to find out for yourself.
Enjoy unique access to the beautiful bays of the island, watching the seabirds drift past on their “rafts”, or glide by on the way to their nests. We guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.