Category Archives: 04) Seabirds

Barolo Shearwater

Magical Moments 2013 #12

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What: Barolo (Little) Shearwater Puffinus baroli

Who: Marc Hughes, Rob Sandham, Dani López-Velasco, Juan Sagardia, Porti Porti, Dave Gosney, Pierre-André Crochet, Eric Didner, Johannes Dag Mayer and all thee other guys on the 48 hour pelagic…

Where: 50 miles north of Lanzarote and all water in-between

When: late August 2013

Why: get on….this…. small shearwater, is what he said. He never said ”Is this a Manx”, ” Look at this funny Manx”- etc. etc. Marc Hughes that is. On clocking the bird- Manx Shearwater never even entered the thought process. Once again sharp-eyed Dani called it large: BAROLO! Unfamiliar blunt whirring wings/ rapidly flapping (much more so than Manx), whole different jizz, and then as it turned that open ‘white face’. Amazingly Johannes got some photos of the bird as we sped along and the bird twisted and turned. Very cool. The first Barolo Shearwater on the Lanzarote Pelagics- a species in serious decline with Canaries population on verge of extinction.

Marc Hughes sat next to me on our wee yacht, knifing through blue sub-tropical seas, shares the moment (sorry ’bout the wind noise):

Barolos_Shearwater-0444Barolo Shearwater- all photos by Johannes Dag Mayer (with thanks). The photo directly above nicely shows 2 rows of white-tipped coverts ( greater and median) a key feature if you get to see or photograph them.

See more on Johannes photos on his Flickr stream >>>HERE<<<

gang on lanza

Huge thanks again to  Juan and Dani who set the whole thing up, here with my travelling companions from North Wales, Rob Sandham and Marc Hughes.

crew

Another great wee adventure on the Lanzarote Pelagics…

White-faced Storm Petrel: Juvenile plumage

Rarely photographed

by Martin G.

One of the less headline making observations on our Lazararote pelagic in August was of the first apparent JUVENILE White-face Storm Petrel seen on these trips. Do you remember when they were called the mythical sounding ‘Frigate Petrel’? It was alongside a worn adult type and both fed in-between our 2 boats.

Below –  photo showing the 2 the apparently different ages classes together. First time captured on camera?

ad and juv White faced petrel aug 13 2

apparent worn adult (left) and juvenile (right) ‘Frigate Petrels’, off Lanzarote, August 2013. Martin Garner

Which taxa?

There are 2  forms described for the North Atlantic, though it’s debated whether they are valid or not. I found the literature a little conflicting in describing differences. I also couldn’t resolve in my mind which population a fresh juvenile in August would have come from. Suggestions welcome.

I checked with other’s on our boat and Johannes Dag Mayer and Florien Straub (thanks guys!) both got shots of what seems to be the same juvenile:

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White-faced Storm Petrel DJ 3 (1 von 1)

White-faced Storm Petrel DJ 5 (1 von 1)

White-faced-9747Above apparent juvenile White-faced Storm-petrel off Lanzarote, August 2013 by Johannes Dag Mayer and Florian Straub.

To finish off some beautiful photos of a White-faced Storm Petrel showing typical wacky feeding mode from the same trip and captured by Johannes. See more of Johannes photos on his Flickr stream >>>HERE<<< (worth clicking on photos below to see larger sizes :)

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White-faced-9927 JDM.

 

Barolo Shearwater

“get on… this… small shearwater!”

the other boat

The other boat- do you know  the geezer with the wacky hat, perched next to mast and looking through bins? This was his best ever pelagic: “Never seen anything good on a pelagic” said he as we set sail.

We thought it was over all over. Late afternoon and we were only couple hours off docking back in La Graciosa. Nevertheless the sight of an ‘at sea’ Eleonora’s Falcon chasing a small bird- probably a Grey Phalarope was till startling enough. Until one Marc Hughes sat next to me released a nervous stream of words: “get on….this…. small shearwater”.

He never said “Is this a Manx”, ” Look at this funny Manx”- etc. etc. On clocking the bird- Manx Shearwater never even entered the thought process. Once again sharp-eyed Dani called it large: BAROLO! Unfamiliar blunt whirring wings/ rapidly flapping (much more so than Manx), whole different jizz, and then as it turned that open ‘white face’. Amazingly Johannes got some photos of the bird as we sped along and the bird twisted and turned. Very cool. The first Barolo Shearwater on the Lanzarote Pelagics- a species in series decline with Canaries population on verge of extinction.

Marc Hughes sat next to me on our wee yacht, knifing through blue sub-tropical seas, shares the moment (sorry ’bout the wind noise):

Barolos_Shearwater-0442

Barolos_Shearwater-0443

Barolos_Shearwater-0444Barolo Shearwater- all photos by Johannes Dag Mayer (with thanks). The photo directly above nicely shows 2 rows of white-tipped coverts ( greater and median) a key feature if you get to see or photograph them.

See more on Johannes photos on his Flickr stream >>>HERE<<<

gang on lanza

Huge thanks again to  Juan and Dani who set the whole thing up, here with my travelling companions from North Wales, Rob Sandham and Marc Hughes.

crew

Another great wee adventure on the Lanzarote Pelagics…

Pterodroma!

Fea’s or Desertas Petrel?

by Martin G.

2nd or 3rd photographed record for Spain

One off the early highlights  on our 2 day Lanzarote Pelagic in late August 2013: a Pterodroma. I think it might also be one of the first ever seen in Canarian waters. Around mid morning after an overnight sail on our 2 ocean- going yachts we were 50 miles north around the Banco de La Concepción. I picked up a ‘different seabird’. Skinny winged and rather small but rolling/ shearing high. Already at a little distance and flying away from us I called a nervous ‘Look at This’. Dani Lopez-Velasco who knows these much better than me quickly locked on and confidently verbalised my suspicions: PTERODROMA!

Thanks to radios the guys on the other boat also got on it, and more remarkably Tony Blunden actually got some photos.

our boatsView from ‘my boat’ across to the other guys. Two 12 berth boats at sea for 44 hours. Party on!

Initial views of the Pterodroma, it looked  skinny winged and rather small and seemed to show some white in the underwing. We surmised perhaps it was a Zino’s. However Toni’s photos do capture the jizz well but amazingly show rather large bill, so a Fea’s/ Desertas seems better call. Of course these things are not easy!

Wind in our sails feels great but makes for bad sound recordings. Marc Hughes’ narrative at lunchtime of the first day gets better as you listen :)

 

Below- the bird in question. All photos by Tony Blunden (with thanks!)

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Now That’s What I Call…

… a Seawatch!

Flamborough Head: 11th September 2013

Paving the way, seawatching off Flamborough Head in evening of  9th Sept. produced a full breach Minke Whale, followed on 10th Sept. by 10′s of Sooty Shearwater, 1 juv. Long-tailed Skua, juvenile Yellow-legged Gull and 3 Blue Fulmar. The morning of 11th looked the most promising:

Joined by regulars Phil C., Craig T., Andrews L. and A., and several visitors, I watched from 6:15 to 9:30am. The day after the strongest NW winds. Some numbers from my time:

110 Sooty Shearwaters

4 juvenile Long-tailed Skuas

2nd winter Caspian Gull (6th record for Flamborough)

2 Balearic Shearwaters

1 adult Sabine’s Gull

2 Blue Fulmar

Plus quite a few Manx Shearwater, Arctic and Great Skuas, ducks including Pintail, Teal, Wigeon, Common and 1 Velvet Scoter, Tufted Duck, Red-throated Diver and Little Gull (and a wacky all-white Black-headed Gull).

2cy Caspian Flamborough 11.9.13

caspian Gull 2cy flam 11.9.13This 2nd winter Caspian Gull was a surprising bonus. Large gull regularly pass the head in front of the ‘seawatch spot’. This one caught my eye immediately. It dropped down as to look for food briefly and then flew through. Thankfully all got on it. Previous records from Flamborough include 4 juveniles (one here) and a 4th winter type (here) (thanks to Alan ‘Birdguides’ Tilmouth).

caspian gull 22nd winter Caspian Gull, Flamborough, 11 Sept. 2011

Blue Fulmar Flamb 10.9.13Blue Fulmar. Saw 5 birds- 3 on 10th and 2 on 11th Sept. This single D type (thanks Brett Richards) came close than most on 10th Sept.

sooty funny 10.9.13Sooty Shearwater. Flamborough is king when it comes to these. This odd bird on 10th Sept. has obvious paler area over the breast.

velvet and commonVelvet and Common Scoter. 11th Sept. I like to push the limits of what can be photographed on a seawatch. This Velvet Scoter was nearly ‘half way out’- which is a long way. I had to get someone to tell me when they passed a marker as I couldn’t reliably make them out through the view finder.

bonxieMoulting adult Great Skua. Modern DSLR cameras enable you to capture quiet a lot, even in murky light at long-range on a seawatch.

Meanwhile…

Casting back a week ago to Thursday 5th Sept. I took lovely daughter Abi on boat trip out of Staithes, North Yorkshire. This was part of exploratory trip with fab colleagues from Yorkshire Coast Nature. A recce. In flat calm conditions we had super views of up to 4 Minke Whale including large bull and few close seabirds, like the Sooty Shearwater below.

sooty staithes

Minke staithes

abi at staithesAbi does her ‘Titanic’ impression ;)

Red-billed Tropicbird and friends

off Lanzarote

by Martin

I am away this week with friends. This is where I will be :)

Reporting when we get back. 2 days and 2 night at sea. Not been done before. A frontier birding experience all round!

Some old posts with past highlights: here  and here .

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The pioneering pelagics will be continuing off Lanzarote. I’ll be joining the guys Dani and Juan for a ‘Birding Frontiers’ special 2 day gig over 27th-28th of August.

Dani writes: “For the first time the plan is to take  2 sailing boats out to the Banco. and we will be staying overnight! That will be very exciting, as we will be able to chum in the late evening and early morning in the best areas, when there’s much more bird activity. I am really excited with it! We could probably give a couple of short lectures with photos, etc…the day before, and maybe some birding in the island the day after.”

For now I’m wowed by Juan’s photos of Red-billed Tropicbird around the harbour from which we sail… Guess I am hoping they are ‘gettable’ in August.

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All photos above by Juan Sagardia, Lanzarote, May 2013

British Storm Petrel

South Landing, Flamborough

Sometime humans go all nocturnal in order to see nature that only comes out at night. Night before last (20th-21st July) was a very well organised such event. The YWT’s Living Seas Centre -where a certain lovely (so says her dad) Abigail Garner works :) – hosted the event in collaboration with the RSPB, the Yorkshire Naturalists Union and the Flamborough Bird Observatory.  Neil Glenn had joined me for a day around Flamborugh and we got treated to a feast of moths and the hoped for Storm Petrels appeared with one trapped at 12:30 am and a second bird around the nets.

Did You Know?

  • European Strom Petrel is (yes or no?) the smallest bird in world with webbed feet
  • 2 (cryptic) species in Europe (one a potential vagrant to Britain/ Ireland)
  • St. Peter and the Virgin Mary are invoked in vernacular names

Storm Petrel 1 South Landing 21.7.13

British Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus, South landing, Flamborough, 21 July 2013. Not that long ago considered to only occur in the North Sea as rare storm blown waif in the autumn, rather than the summer visitor in some numbers. The brownish coverts visible here may not be part of the plumage of Mediterranean Storm Petrel Hydrobates melitensis making this shorter billed bird with brownish wing coverts-a bird ‘showing characters’of British Storm Petrel.

Song and Calls

I had a couple of opportunities to hear and record the eerie songs and calls of British Storm Petrels on Mousa, Shetland, this spring.

Listen to singing male etc <HERE> 

(famously described as “the sound of a  fairy being sick”)

Ant and Living seas centre

Anthony Hurd, welcomes nocturnal creatures to YWT’s Living Seas Centre at South landing.

mothing at South Landing

Local keen lepidopterists lead by YNU show techniques and displayed an excellent selection of species

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living seas centre

Living Seas Centre provided excellent base for viewing moths and giving presentations

andrew lassey explains petrelAndrew Lassey of Flamborough Bird Observatory gives excellent and fulsome info on European Storm Petrels, ID, aging and ringing history in the North Sea.

2 Species

British Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus

Mediterranean Storm Petrel Hydrobates melitensis

Wonderful wirte-up on Mediterranean Storm Petrel by Magnus Robb  in Petrels: Night and Day . Also more in   Flood and Fisher’s  Storm-petrels and Bulwer’s Petrel . Increasingly viewed as 2 separate, cryptic species. Mediterranean Storm Petrel has reached the Atlantic (Algarve, Portugal) and a bird ringed on Malta has reached the Netherlands, though not as a nestling it may have been a British bird which wintered in the Mediterranean (lots more in Magnus Robb’s write-up). At least those trapping birds in tape luring can bear in mind biometrics especially length and depth of the bill.

stormie 1

Bill length was carefully measured as the potential vagrant (species) the Mediterranean Storm Petrel has on average a slightly longer and deeper  bill. Anything over 12 mm could have raised the stakes. Our guy had a bill length of 11mm.

Last petrel ringing I attended 2 years ago when we saw this bird at Spurn

storm-petrel-ad-fem-spurn-9-8-11
ant and stormie………………I think Anthony Hurd enjoys the variety that his work brings ;)

with grateful thanks to Sal Cooke, Ant Hurd, Andrew Lassey and all the other folk- involved. Also to Neil Glenn- fine day together birding the Great White Cape