· Anglesey ·
Drizzle and rain forecast. A drab but exhilarating start to the day down on the rocks, where several campers were fishing. Curlew, oystercatchers, distant gannets, and a little egret. You never used to see them here. As I climbed the headland on my way back to the caravan, I watched a pair of razorbills fishing just off the rocks. The sea was so still and clear, I could see the white flashes of their flanks darting below the surface. They were incredibly fast underwater, just like penguins. I don’t suppose this should have come as such a surprise: the razorbill’s nearest known relative, the extinct great auk, bore the scientific name Pinguinus impennis, whose genus name was later applied colloquially to superficially similar flightless aquatic birds encountered by European explorers in the southern hemisphere. Auks and penguins are not closely related. Their similar(ish) body shapes are an example of convergent evolution, in which similar lifestyles have resulted in similar design solutions honed by natural selection.
Later, a spin out to a very drizzly Beaumaris for a bag of chips. Sadly, the pier was closed, but the gulls were every bit as annoying as we dined on a bench at the edge of the beach.
“…wonderful. Science and history and geography and evolution and culture all tangled up in musings while walking about the moors around Hebden Bridge.”—PZ Myers
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