The wardens of Britains small islands on daily life with little more than thousands of puffins for company
After supper, while Eddie Stubbings was washing up, huge flocks of puffins would come whirling past his kitchen window. Later, when the sun had finally dipped into the ocean, the Skomer night filled with the bizarre caterwauling of 350,000 pairs of manx shearwaters, which fly under the cover of darkness to burrows dotted across the small island.
Living on the island was absolutely amazing, says Stubbings, 40. Alongside his partner, Bee Bueche, 41, he has completed six years working on Skomer, 720 acres of seabird-populated rocks off the Pembrokeshire coast.
Whenever a job advertisement for warden of a small island appears, hundreds of islophiles apply, seeking to flee the tyranny of modern life. It wasnt always this way: historically, many of the 6,200-odd small islands that make up the British archipelago have been prisons, literally or figuratively, with their isolated residents eventually choosing to leave for a mainland that offers more comfort, companionship and opportunities.
Now there is a reverse migration, as people escape the centre for the periphery, chasing the liberation of less choice and intimacy with nature. As conservation charities have found a new use for small islands as sanctuaries for rare seabirds formerly empty ones have been repopulated by wildlife wardens.
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