The life of an island castaway isn’t for everyone, but a rare and adventurous breed can thrive in remote places like Skokholm Island off the coast of Wales.
When a job was advertised for wardens to care for a small Welsh island and its many thousands of birds, there was no shortage of interest – in fact, hundreds and hundreds of castaway hopefuls flooded the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales with applications. Now, the successful wardens have been revealed as a cheerful young British couple with a passion for conservation and a taste for remote living.
Avian expert Richard Brown, 32, comes well-prepared for the post, having spent seven years living on tiny Welsh islands, not to mention stints on islands as far-flung as British Columbia and Mauritius. The aptly-named Giselle Eagle, 27, is another seabird specialist who was introduced to island living by Richard when they met in 2009.
During the harsh 2009/2010 winter, Giselle was monitoring a disrupted colony of Little Terns in Yarmouth. As she chased flocks from the broken-up group around the East Anglian coast, she and Richard had a life-altering meeting on Bardsley Island, where he was stationed.
“During this time I visited Richard, who was already the warden on Bardsey,” she said. “I was hooked on both island life and Richard. I moved here in October 2010 and haven’t looked back.”
For the last two years, the pair have lived and worked together on the island of Bardsley beneath a historic lighthouse, so the trials and tribulations of remote island living won’t come as a surprise. For these two nature lovers, the job on Skokholm is a perfect fit.
“We’re both very passionate about wildlife, particularly seabirds and island ecology, and we can’t wait to be surrounded by thousands of storm petrels, Manx Shearwaters and puffins all to the backdrop of Skokholm’s beautiful red sandstone cliffs,” Richard told the BBC.
Skokholm Island, as previously reported in Private Island News (link), was bought almost in entirety from private owners by the Wildlife Trust of North and South Wales in 2006, after a successful fundraising drive that raised £650,000. In 2012, the organization completed their purchase with another £250,000 for the island’s lighthouse and surrounding cliff sides.
Giselle and Richard will be kept busy on the island with the mammoth task of monitoring the thousands of birds that make the island home, not to mention getting the buildings in shape to begin receiving guests. It’s not an easy life, but the nature-loving couple wouldn’t have it any other way. “Skokholm will be palatial for us,” said Richard.
Read more about this story: BBC.co.uk