24/05/19. Storm Petrels and Shearwaters.

A magical thing happens on Skokholm this time of year as it gets dark.   If there is no moon, or if it’s sufficiently cloudy, then some of Skokholm’s most precious seabirds become audibly active and eventually take flight out to sea to feed, or alternately return from sea with food.

Storm petrels like to nest in old stone walls, or slate-like rock formations where they can be well protected from predators.   The photo above is of the old eastern boundary wall of the cottage; if you look carefully you can see a metal tag indicating that this is a known storm petrel nesting site.

Shearwaters, like a number of other animals on Skokholm, choose to nest in underground burrows.   Both sing and call profusely, and these recordings below capture 3 different phases of the evening’s performance.

I left the microphones next to an old stone wall that runs west from the cottage towards North Pond.  This wall is well populated with nesting Storm Petrels; it is also surrounded by fields with Shearwater burrows.  The idea was to hear both birds singing, and to capture the sound transition from Storm Petrels who sing first from their wall crevices, to the Shearwaters that tend to wait until it is fully dark before emerging when their singing is most prominent.

Other birds are also very active.

First recording is from 11:00pm to 11:05pm.   Storm Petrels, and an Oyster Catcher unhappy at my presence.


Second is from 11:34pm to 11:43pm.  Storm Petrels and the first Shearwaters can be heard.

Third is from 1:44 am to 1:55 am.  Many Shearwaters, Gulls, and the Storm Petrels are still singing.



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