Jules spotted the first egg on the Amos on April 30th! Can you spot it in the photo below?
Since then the wind and rain has come pelting down on us from all angles, so we have only had a couple of opportunities to get to the Amos. A few powercuts have done funny things to the sockets in our kitchen, so electricity is now a rare commodity and lighting the oven is always an adventure. Having said that, my latest loaf was positively edible, smashing my reputation for baking terrible bread to smithereens. The bluebells are on their way, and I’m looking forward to that neon purple carpet.
I find it difficult to sum up ‘island life’, so I have tried to paint a picture of my fieldwork exploits here…
Skomer is large tubs of peanut butter which are gone within a week. It is loud laughter shared around the kitchen table, hysterical over the desire for cheese, for biscuits, for a fresh crunchy salad. The endless consumption of tea, as people who are drawn together by the love of birds, of outdoors, of simple living, get to know each other. The gossip is the predation of eggs, finding a BTO ring on a carcass, the antics of peregrines, the glimpse of migrant birds sweeping through the island, sometimes slightly slower than the bird itself so others are left to wonder whether it was there at all.
It is beautiful sunrises, each mornings red glow unique and only for me. It is the wind whistling past your ears as your brace yourself, body bent into the wind, with the heavy weight of a large rucksack on your hips, rabbits skittering along the path in front of you. It is scampering down the path to the tiny hide perched on the cliff, as nimble as a goat in gaiters. It is being amazed and amused at the fall-outs, infidelities and fighting between guillemots, the bashful retreats and the calm preening, the long elegant necks bobbing in alarm. It is feeling loved when, after the noisy squawking has got too much, the compilation CD or podcast made for you by a friend has you laughing and singing along to your ipod as you record timings, identities, behaviours, reactions, comings and goings. It is the slow stretch of cold stiff muscles as you stomp back up the cliff path, urged on by growling puffins, stern ravens, and a skylark far above.
It is processing data while wrapped in a sleeping bag at a desk, with a hot water bottle on your lap and a candle to try to keep your fingers warm. It is dressing by torchlight, washing with minimal water, composting and recycling almost everything, and burning the remaining waste. It is pacing in the bitter wind where there is sufficient phone signal to speak to a loved one. It is early bedtimes, under several blankets, exhausted and excited for the next day.
I have loved every minute of this first month!