Photo above: Looking across Jack Sound from the Deer Park. The first lump of land is Middleholm. Beyond that is Skomer, with the Mew Stone to the left (south), and the smaller Garland Stone to the right (north).
Read my article here for a virtual tour of Skomer Island.
What you’ll see there
Skomer Island, off the tip of Pembrokeshire in south-west Wales is a true wildlife haven. With no ground predators such as foxes, rats or stoats, the island provides a safe haven for ground-nesting birds such as puffins and Manx shearwaters, as well as for other seabirds that nest out in the open. In the autumn is is a safe place for grey seals to have their pups.
Best time for seabirds – May – July, though fulmars and shearwaters are still feeding chicks until September
Best time for other birds – April-May and August-October migration periods when anything can turn up.
Best time for seals – can be seen in all months, but pups are born between August and November.
Best time for flowers – May – August
Best time for insects – May – September
- Skomer is a National Nature Reserve
- It is owned by Natural Resources Wales
- It is managed in conjunction with the Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and others.
- The Dale Princess is owned by Dale Sailing Company and runs from the first of April to the end of October, weather permitting, except on Mondays (so the puffins get a day off too!)
- Wikitravel – general information for visitors to Wales
How to get there
It’s only a ten-minute boat crossing to reach Skomer.
2022 – The new arrangements introduced due to Covid have been continued. You now have to book in advance online. (no more waiting at Martin’s Haven at dawn in peak season). Details are here. If you don’t have a ticket, you are unlikely to get on the boat.
Parking is still at Martin’s Haven National Trust car park, so you need either a National Trust membership card, or some cash.
As well as puffins, guillemots, razorbills and Manx shearwaters, there are other species of birds breeding on Skomer – great black-back, lesser black-back and herring gulls, kittiwakes, cormorants, shags, oystercatchers, curlew (but only one or two pairs), land birds such as wheatears, meadow pipits, rock pipits, blackbirds, jackdaw, crow, raven, chough, and raptors such as peregrine, buzzard, little owl and short-eared owl.
The Pembrokeshire Islands are home to about half a million pairs of Manx Shearwaters. These birds are nocturnal on land (to avoid predation by gulls) and are most easily seen by either staying overnight on Skomer (contact the Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales) or by taking an evening “Seabird Spectacular” on the Dale Princess.
Rabbits, woodmice, common shrews and the Skomer vole (a subspecies of bank vole) all live on the island, while around 150-200 grey seals have their pups on the beaches each autumn.
My articles elsewhere about Skomer
Watching puffins and other seabirds
More about nature-watching in Wales
Skomer Seabird Spectacular cruise
A seabird spectacular cruise offers an alternative (or an addition) to landing on Skomer Island – and a great chance to see the Manx Shearwaters that are hidden in burrows, or are out at sea during the day.
Botanising on the Great Orme
The Great Orme is a huge limestone outcrop along the North Wales coast. It’s a great place for hunting plants and butterflies, or just for enjoying a long walk.
Environmental volunteering is a great way of getting to know more about a place or a species. It can be done quietly on a local level, or by joining a working group or a vacation.
Red Kites at Gigrin Farm
Even if you are not a bird-watcher, a visit to a red kite feeding station is a spectacular event.