Monday, 1 July 2013

Sounds from the Sea

In May I wrote about the Tweet of the Day series on Radio 4. With over 40 tweets now available to listen to it is a fascinating collection, highlighting the huge diversity and wealth of the UK's birds. In particular I've enjoyed the many episodes which reveal the sounds of seabirds. 

As an island nation the UK is home to a huge array of marine wildlife; seabirds are some of the most noticeable, and I presume, noisiest on our shoreline. While some, like the gannet, are familiar favorites from Spring Watch and other natural history programmes others are less well known.  I had never even wondered what a Great Skua sounded like, let alone be able to guess. 

So, in case you haven't had a chance to hear them yet, have a listen to some of these amazing sounds from the sea. 

Cormorants are common on rocky shores and in winter gather in large roost of hundreds of birds.

Great Skuascommonly known as bonxies, two thirds of the global breeding population are found on Scottish islands.

Gannets  have a two meter wingspan and regularly dive up to 20 meters into the water.

Arctic Terns make a round trip of over 70 thousand kilometers as they migrate. They see more daylight than any other animal.

Manx Shearwaters nest around the UK, mostly on remote islands such as Skomer. Around 90% of the world's population breed in the UK.

Razorbills look beautiful with their smart black and white feathers, although their call is less attractive!

Puffins are one of the most colourful seabirds. Their calls sounds similar to cows moo-ing.

Kittiwakes get their name from their call, and have been nesting on the cliffs near to me at Exmouth.

Storm Petrels  just sound bizarre, purring away through the night. They appear to walk on water and are known as "Jesus Christ birds".

Guillemots  learnt to fly by jumping off high cliffs. The eggs are pear shaped to prevent them falling off the cliffs and guillemot nests are the smallest of any bird, only 5cm square. 

Shagswith their deep green plumage, are true seabirds compared to their black feathered relatives the cormorants. Shags make nests of seaweed and driftwood. 

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