Storm Petrels- in the North Sea

Ocean wandering wonder

‘Back in the day’ as they say, Storm Petrels would have been viewed as rare birds in the North Sea. Not even annual at Spurn, the best hope was September and October storms. And all the time, they were feeding offshore in the (late) summer. Only it was a night. Nocturnal in the breeding season. No records but plenty present. Another example of the wonders of nature and our struggle to classify and keep up (which is OK with me). we still don’t know how many are feeding at night, offshore during the summer months. Probably more than we think.

Last night stayed late the Warren, Spurn for an attempt to tape-lure Storm Petrels. One bird visited very briefly then about an hour or more later this one land in the mist net at 12:20 am. Quickly ringed and processed it was placed back on the beach by the tideline. Sitting for probably less than a minute it then flitted off back into the night. Amazing! Thanks to Adam and Ian.

Adult (or perhaps first summer?) Storm Petrel, Spurn, 9 August 2011

The brownish wing coverts were well-worn. Juveniles have nice fresh white tips to the greater coverts and tertials (forms thin white bar on upperwing). I suppose it could be a first summer though they don’t seem easy to age (esp. by August). The uppertail coverts are adult type, lacking the pale tips/ more extensive areas of white at tip of juveniles.

What a head shape! What an amazing, tiny bird.

4 thoughts on “Storm Petrels- in the North Sea

  1. Mark Grantham

    The two generations of tail feathers present (inner and outer feathers being new) indicate that this bird is at least two years old. Unfortunately it’s often not possible to age them beyond this, but I have seen a bird with three generations of tail feathers (moulted symmetrically), which was probably at least three years old. You can’t quite see it in the photos, but you’ll probably find a contrast in the outer primaries as well, though this is never as obvious.

  2. Adam Hutt

    Its quite interesting reading these comments in that one of the birds trapped had a very well developed brood patch.

  3. Pingback: British Storm Petrel | Birding Frontiers

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