Friday, 26 August 2011

Pelagic 25/08/11

Typically, after two busy weekends, the pelagics have started to produce...

Cory's Shearwater - of the six seen, two birds showed very well, including this bird at arms-length
off the MV Sapphire's stern

Great Shearwater - we had at least 70 of these. Many came very close...

Manx Shearwater - about 20 were seen, some showed atypically well

Wilson's Storm-petrel (WISP) - three different individuals were noted

WISP - this bird (the same in all images) was moulting the outer tail feathers. Tail moult of
second-years & older usually occurs Sep-Oct; in juveniles Oct-Jan

WISP - note the extensive triangular white thigh patch: it is both wide & deep

WISP - this bird came so close, most of it was outside the image frame!

Pelagic 22/08/11

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Oriole Birding Weekend 19th-21st August

A few images from a fantastic weekend...

Bonxie - one of many that showed well over the weekend

Luckily, this french trawler proved to be a real magnate for tubenoses

Sooty Shearwater 

Great Shearwater

At times, this bird was too close to focus on

Eventually we found this Wilson's Storm-petrel behind the trawler

With no chum slick, we no option but to follow this bird...

Birder Special Pelagic Weekend 13th-14th August

Images from the weekend...

Balearic Shearwater -  typically for this species, it performed well in the wake.
Photo by Phil Woollen 

Sabine's Gull by Phil Woollen

This PZ trawler proved to be a magnate for seabirds, attracting among
others, Great and Sooty Shearwaters. Photo by Phil Woollen
Sooty Shearwater by Phil Woollen
Great Shearwater - this bird showed very well. Photo by Phil Woollen

The above footage (taken with a tiny digi-camera) is a of a 150 lb Blue Shark - the heaviest caught off Scilly for over a decade. It wasn't particularly long (just over 8 ft) but it was very chunky with an impressive girth. It proved to be very aggressive, locking its powerful jaws into one of the wooden seat tops.

On our way back to the quay, we encountered a large pod of Common Dolphin, many of which had fun riding the bow waves created by the hull of the MV Sapphires.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Wilson's Storm-petrel off Scilly and beyond

What's going on...?

We just received an email from our Spanish seabirding friends that reads as follows:
'This year large numbers of Wilson's Storm-petrel are being observed in the Strait of Gibraltar (around 200), but we don't know if this is a normal situation (and no one has previously realized that the species was so common there) or just a big influx.'

Off Scilly, we have seen just one Wilson's in the last 5 weeks, and none for nearly 3 weeks, and this is peak time (by average statistics)! A reasonable assumption is that Wilson's are farther south this year (at least up 'till now). Might this be connected to an unusual year with the Gulf Stream?

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Black-bellied Storm-petrel first for WP

Last night Madeira Wind Birds (Hugo and Catarina sent us this photo taken off the back of a camera with a phone, during a pelagic off Madeira. Assuming it is a true representation, and there is no reason to believe otherwise, then it is a Black-bellied Storm-petrel and a first for the Western Palearctic:

The long dark hood of Black-bellied drapes over its entire breast (to the upper belly); on Atlantic ‘white-bellieds’ the hood ends approximately half-way down its breast and is visibly short. On Black-bellied, the base of the hood lies farther down the body than the position at which the dark leading-edge of the wing meets the body; on Atlantic ‘white-bellieds’, the base of the hood is level and aligned with the position at which the dark leading-edge of the wing meets the body. Side-on, Black-bellied has an uneven border where the hood meets the white upper belly and in the center it bulges in toward the belly; Atlantic ‘white-bellieds’ have a straight border where the hood meets the white lower breast. Side-on in Black-bellied, the dark/white border undertail/belly cuts in at an angle toward the belly (it is vertical on Atlantic ‘white-bellieds’). In Atlantic ‘white-bellieds the dark undertail-coverts and dark tail form a dark rear carriage that is isolated from the body by white feathers. Finally, of course, it shows very strong evidence of the diagnostic central black belly stripe.

Congratulations Catarina and Hugo!

ADDITIONAL: A much better photograph is now available on Madeira Wind Birds

Monday, 8 August 2011

For seabirders looking out for Atlantic Petrel…

We just heard that the probable Atlantic Petrel off Cornwall was a dark bird, but don’t know this first hand? Of the many thousands of Atlantics I have seen in the South Atlantic just one was dusky looking, while the rest were typical. Anyway, since Atlantic Petrel is currently topical the following video and note may interest you.

Included here are three sequences of Atlantic Petrel, from relatively distant to very close. Realistically, there are only two potential confusion Pterodromas in the North Atlantic – Trindade Petrel, and the remote chance of a Kermadec Petrel. We will discuss all three species in depth in our forthcoming multimedia guide to ‘Pterodroma Petrels’ (North Atlantic series) including video footage of all three.

A quick note though. I picked up Trindade Petrels on both of my Atlantic Odysseys (2006, 2010) and these are documented with photographs in two Birding World articles (22: 162-166; 23: 305-306). Of particular interest, it took a little time and fairly close views to convince other seabirders present that the first Trindade Petrel in 2010 was not an Atlantic Petrel (of which we had seen thousands). The Trindade was a pale morph, BUT it had incredibly dark underwings, and the limited white on the underwings could only be seen at relatively close range (see photo). The undertail-coverts also looked dark. I thought I had glimpsed white on the underwings when I first picked it up - on the underwing Atlantic also has hard to see pale bases to primaries; but it was its much slimmer structure and less heavy flight jizz that convinced me it was a Trindade.  It flew away and lingered some considerable distance off, before (thankfully) steadily working its way back to the ship, finally revealing its identity to all others present and convincing them it was not an Atlantic Petrel.

Note that the plumage aspect of this pale morph Trindade Petrel is very similar
to that of an Atlantic Petrel, with underwings nearly all dark and dark
undertail-coverts. However, it is slimmer in body than the heavy looking 
Atlantic Petrel, with proportionately longer narrower wings, and fairly 
long attenuated tail (no hint of a wedge shape in the tail like Atlantic). 
Also, it is noticeably smaller when seen side by side with Atlantic Petrel. 
Photo: Sharon Hogan 

Original Promo Video for Multimedia ID Guide

Just in case you haven't seen the original promo video for our Multimedia ID Guide to North Atlantic Seabirds: Storm-petrels & Bulwer's Petrel, here it is...


Further information and more 'teaser' video clips can be found here

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Back Catalogue: Buller's Shearwater


Larger format of all blog footage can be found here


Multimedia ID Guide to North Atlantic Seabirds: Storm-petrels & Bulwer's Petrel

Our guide in now available. For further details and to purchase Click here

Friday, 5 August 2011

Pelagic 04/08/11

Four and half miles south of St Mary's

Five Great Shearwaters showed very well as did a single Balearic Shearwater. Other birds included 20+ European Storm-petrels and a single Great Skua.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Multimedia identification guide available soon

The new multimedia identification guide is book of the month in the September issue of Birdwatch magazine. The Guide will be available at the Birdfair from two stands: the Birdwatch stand M4/97-100, and our friend and artist John Gale's stand AM/7.