Skomer is a captivating Welsh island and one of Britain's most spectacular National Nature Reserves. It has internationally important populations of seabirds, including puffins and Manx shearwaters, and large numbers of grey seal pups are born on the island's beaches. The breathtaking displays of spring flowers, including coast-to-coast bluebells, give the island an almost unrivalled beauty, and it is also one of the best-preserved prehistoric landscapes in Britain.
The author's years of meticulous research have resulted in the most complete account of the island's history and natural history ever produced, beautifully illustrated throughout with his own exquisite photographs of species and habitats. Through close co-operation with descendants of the island's former farming families, Mike Alexander has compiled a collection of important and previously unpublished photographs, which inform and enhance the historical sections.
Not since Ronald Lockley's work has there been a book like Skomer Island. Written with a level of detail that would make it relevant to professional conservationists, but presented in a style that is also accessible to amateur naturalists and anyone with an interest in the countryside. Tens of thousands of people visit Skomer and the surrounding cliffs of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park every year, and many of them will be inspired to learn more about its history and natural history. Skomer is extremely popular, receiving regular media attention from magazines, radio and television wildlife programmes.
At the heart of Skomer Island is the relationship between people and place: how Skomer has been moulded over the centuries to meet the needs of a succession of inhabitants. This is a universal theme that transcends the boundaries of this tiny fragment of land, and would be relevant to anyone who is curious about the environment we have created.
Mike Alexander spent 10 years as warden of Skomer Island. He is a trustee and director of the Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales, the organisation responsible for managing Skomer, and was recently elected Chairman of the island's Advisory Committee. He managed the National Nature Reserves throughout Wales and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and for the past 10 years, he has been the Chairman of a Welsh Government-sponsored organisation called PONT, which seeks to bridge the gap between farmers and nature conservation. He is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, as well as a lecturer at Bangor University and Birkbeck, University of London. His book, Management Planning for Nature Conservation, has become the standard text on the subject and is now in its second edition, published in 2013 by Springer. His stunning photographs have been widely published in books and in magazines such as BBC Countryfile, to which he is a regular contributor.