HOME FROM HOLM

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Just returned from a superb week on Skokholm Island off the coast of Pembrokeshire – seven days and long nights on this famous isolated rock – attending the Spring Meeting of the Wildlife Sound Recording Society. To be away from cars, phones, and computers, and to be surrounded by tens of thousands of nesting seabirds, was a joy, in spite of the unfavourable full moon, interspersed with gales and rain. But even with these frustrations, with considerable effort I was able to get the recordings I wanted.

Firstly, the sound of the rapid wing beats of Puffins as they wheel over the colony on a calm, sunny first evening at Crab Bay:

Puffins wheeling

Later, I dropped a DPA4060 into one of the burrows, to record their evocative moans:

Puffin calling in burrow

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One bird I really wanted to record was the tiny Storm Petrel, only possible on remote islands, and since they nest in the garden wall around the famous Lockley Cottage, it shouldn’t have proved too difficult. However, the purring was much quieter than I expected, and most nights we had to battle against a buffeting wind. But at midnight, this pair purred for 65 minutes without a break, and not bad to have this performance going on less than 100 metres from your bed:

Storm petrel purring

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Finally, and after several blank nights, the Manx shearwaters came in. With approximately 48,000 pairs nesting you would think it’s a hard sound to miss, but they will not come ashore on moonlit nights, and on the dark nights we had torrential rain. So I was pleased to grab a few minutes at 2am one morning, a short glimpse of one of the most¬†magnificent wildlife spectacles that Britain can offer:

Manx shearwaters

Manx_Skokholm_2016_095A Manxie in the safe hands of the warden.

Thanks to our hosts Richard and Giselle, and the excellent company of good friends.

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