25/06/2015 09:08 BST | Updated 23/06/2016 06:59 BST

The Sounds of Our Shores: Quack, Sniffle and Plop

For many of us, the hooting, hollering and howling we hear on Britain's coast are a key part our childhood experiences. The British Library, National Trust for Scotland and National Trust's Sounds of our Shores project brings us closer to our coast, and the wildlife and people that help to shape it.

Our shores - where memories are made

©Graham Eaton

What does the coast mean to you?

A splash of water or the growling rumble of a wave, the crunch of a spade or the snap of a deckchair, the cry of a gull or a can rolling across the sand. These sounds can provoke memories, induce a giggle, anger or mesmerize.

It's a place of firsts - the birds and butterflies migrating back and forth, a child's first trip to the sea, your first sneeze after maybe taking a dip slightly too soon in the year (don't we all get overexcited on May bank holiday?)

Ice cream at Birling Gap - tastier than sand ©Megan Taylor

Sometimes whole layers of sound can hit the listener - on the beach, there may be waves rumbling, tinny teenage headphones and a robin in the tree near the kiosk. On the clifftop such as those at White Cliffs, the endless howling wind mingles with the sound of salt spray and calling kittiwakes. A saltmarsh such as at Copt Hall Marshes might have the sounds of ducks and waders such as redshank, while echoes in caves on cliffs and blowholes will sounds different every time you visit.

Saltmarsh - the coast is always changing ©Arnhel de Serra

Our coast is unique in that we have such variety in a relatively small space. Harbours with their fishing boats and bells ringing in the wind contrast with the peace of a sand dune, full of meadow pipits and skylarks singing and bees buzzing around their unique flowers. If you are lucky enough to both be on a boat and resistant to seasickness, the creaking and moaning in the depths of vessel go some way towards explaining why the floating piece of wood or plastic is a 'she'

A place for people and wildlife

Our history is entwined with the coast - whether it be a 'pirate' accent or a battle on a beach at Mwnt, our shores also tell the history of our nation

Mwnt - the site of a Flemish invasion in 1155 ©Gwen Potter

Each sound collected for the project will lead to further memories and senses for the listener. For me, the sound of the 'seagull' (one of several species), evokes the smell of chips near the beach at Lindisfarne (Lindisfarne link) prior to an ill-advised Febraury dip in the North sea as a student, or the feeling of sunburn and the sight of a shocked companion empty handed, a gull having swooped away with the contents of his dinner on the Cornish coast.

The 'seagull' - pirate by name, pirate by nature ©Arnhel de Serra

My favourite sound is that of the oystercatcher. I always hear them before seeing them, their piping call is somehow pleading and cute, usually meaning the rain is over. With their long legs and oversized beak, they can only have been invented for comedy purposes.


An oystercatcher on Skomer - the bird with the beak ©NaturePL/Richard Bowsher

The people and wildlife that make up the unique British coast are endless in their variety, the place where people and nature truly entwine. Thousands of sounds make a great trip - and we need you to collect those sounds when you visit the seaside, as if you need an excuse to visit. Go here to submit your sounds.