7/4/17. North Haven, Skomer. Razorbills, Seals and Gulls.

1pm and I’m sitting on the landing at North Haven where boats bring visitors into Skomer for their first experience of this most magical place. These boats often come from Martins Haven on the mainland in Wales. Right now there is no activity; i have the uneven and slippery steps, the view across North Haven, and the attention of one curious seal all to myself.

Across the harbour I see hundreds of Razorbills in the water; some puffins too (but they are quiet once out of their burrows). On a distant beach under the cliffs of the Neck is another secluded beach. It is full of seals (100+), and their somewhat eerie wails and calls are quite evident on this recording. The waves in the harbour are also prominent – but it’s a small island, and one of the joys of being here is that the sea is ever-present.

The razorbills, staggeringly beautiful birds shown here in a closer photo from the surrounding cliffs of North Harbour make an amazing mechanical sound: a motor-like grating noise. I think this may be somewhat common to all Auks, though in different ways. Puffins, above ground are silent; but below they make frustrated-engine-like noises. Razorbills seem to motor on wherever they are.

Other birds prominent on Skomer, in this case non-Auks, e.g., Shearwaters; also live underground where they are quite noisy (and, when so, in a curious motor-like way), yet quiet when above ground and in flight.

The seals are just wonderful, and at the time I didn’t realise how prominent they were in the recording. Listen to them carefully; they are often otherworldly.

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