British wildlife recordings

Puffinus puffinus : Manx Shearwater - Procellariidae

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  • Shelf mark

    W1CDR0001409 BD8

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  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Skokholm Island, Pembrokeshire: OS Grid Reference(173500,205500)

  • Recordist

    Shove, Lawrence

  • Species

    Manx Shearwater, Puffinus puffinus

  • Description

    The song of the Manx shearwater, recorded at Skokholm, Pembrokeshire. One of the largest of Britain's 'tube-nose' seabirds, the Manx Shearwater is a true master of the sea. It is often seen gliding fast and purposefully just above seawater, with wing tips seeming to cut or 'shear' the surf. Food, which mostly consists of small fish and molluscs, is taken on or below the surface of the water. Unlike the ease with which they traverse the marine expanse, these birds can appear awkward and ungainly when walking on land. The plumage is sharply divided into dark, glossy brown upperparts and greyish-white underparts. Both male and female are alike. Manx shearwaters nest in burrows and therefore prefer cliff slopes that have large stretches of turf. In the process of rearing their single chick parent birds may travel as far as six hundred miles offshore to seek food. Breeding colonies are often huge and are especially active when parent birds return to their nests for the night. It is at this time that the adults utter their characteristic, eerie cooing calls. Manx Shearwaters reside in breeding sites along the western coast of the British Isles. During the deep winter months many of these birds travel across the Atlantic Ocean to spend time on the coast of South America, returning to British waters in February.

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