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Sarah-Kay Purdon worked as the Assistant Warden on Skomer Island for the 2018/19 field seasons. But has spent much time on the island as a volunteer, and in various other roles. Below she recalls working with a group of volunteers to construct a small fence on The Wick – when some of the local residents tried to help! Recollection as follows: “The Wick is famous for good reason, the amazing cliff views and puffin burrows on both sides of the path create opportunity for some amazing wildlife encounters. Many cannot get enough of it, and rightly so as it’s always changing! In just the five years that I have known Skomer, it has changed noticeably. In 2014 and 2015, the puffin borrows extended on both sides of the path only at the top of the wick, and along the path to/from Skomer Head the puffins were only distantly visible on the slopes a fair way below the path. By 2019, the puffin colony had extended significantly with puffins nesting close to the path all the way along, almost as far as Wick Stream, and even on the ‘inland’ side of the path for most of it. In the first few weeks of the 2019 season, before the burrowing seabirds returned to their underground nesting sites, some volunteers and I spent several days significantly widening the path between the wick and the Amos. However, by mid-April there were even more puffins and the temptation was too much for many. We decided more was needed, and so for several weeks, many hours of volunteers’ time were spent making knee high stakes out of leftover wood from the farm garage construction. Once a good set of stakes were made, the volunteers helped me carry them out to the wick and hammered them into place. As a temporary measure, ‘blue’ rope was used, but we soon replaced this with something more weather resistant, and less likely to fray small pieces of plastic into the environment. This low-level rope fence worked wonderfully. It made the path boundary much clearer and reduced (to zero!) the number of issues of visitors straying off the path in this location. We also received some unexpected ‘help’ from the puffins! I turned my back for five minutes while replacing the rope and a puffin attempted to steal the rope for nesting material, with an impressive amount of rope pulled down the burrow!” Description: 1) Several metres of rope pulled down a puffin burrow, 2019. 2) The puffin culprits, 2019. 3) The burrow in question, 2019.

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