Yelkouan Shearwater

Heads up!

With an increasing number of claims of Yelkouan Shearwaters in the UK, thought I would post this superb plate.

Its from the ‘Frontiers book’ , but here in colour and enlarged.  If I get time I will put down criteria worked out from tons seen off Istanbul and Menorca (which is also an update from the text in the book). For now a very nice plate. Think if I was to claim one – I would want a head-lifter!

Short-tailed Shearwater has also been in the British/ Irish headlines. I’ve been sent some  wonderful photos of Short-tailed and Sooty Shearwaters which  I hope to put add here tomorrow.

Go on – click on image below for ever better view

Yelkouan, Manx and Balearic Shearwaters by Ian Lewington

About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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3 Responses to Yelkouan Shearwater

  1. Superb plate! I was interested to see that you have highlighted ‘head-lifting’ in Yelkouan Shearwater. So I thought I’d pass on some of my observations of Balearic Shearwaters made in Cornwall. In late August-early September 2009 I made a series of quick sketches of different Balearic Shearwaters that were passing both Pendeen and Porthgwarra. My notes and sketches refer to frequent head-lifting of Balearic Shearwaters. This was seen particularly during short horizontal glides inbetween bouts of rapid flapping. The head-lifting action was at times very obvious and I found it comical to watch (it put me in mind of the characteristic head movements of migrating Red-throated Divers).

  2. Martin Garner says:

    Hi James

    Hey great to meet you and your family at Rutland. Thanks for this – well described – and I agree with the Red-throated Diver analogy. I love your artwork!

    Back to the head lifting thing. It was bit unfair of me to just put up the plate only as the text in ‘Frontiers in Birding’ does cover a bit more detail – which agrees with your obs.

    “…Yelkouans love to raise their head up and down in travelling flight, an habitual character that can also be observed in Red-throated Divers and (more comparatively) Little and Balearic Shearwaters. It is not a regular habit of Manx, which at most, can be seen to do a little head jerk but you have to look hard and be concentrating to see it. Yelkouans lift their heads up and down frequently, most often at either end of a flapping sequence. Yelkouans also have a tendency to turn the head sideways as if looking up to the sky (or down to the sea), which causes the whole face to ‘flash’ extensive white, again recalling Little Shearwater. Sometimes they raise the head and look upward at the same time.”

  3. Hello Martin,
    It was good to meet you too! Thanks for your reply and for the quote from ‘frontiers’ it instantly clears up that matter – and at the same time highlights how poorly read I am! (Pleased that you too noted the Red-throated Diver analogy).
    Interested to read about the Yelkouan’s heads flashing extensive white as they caught the sun. On sunny evenings at Pendeen whole flocks of Manx Shearwaters could have their dark heads totally ‘burnt-out’ by the low bright sun and also appear extensively white. At its most intense this lighting phenomenon could give the impression of streams of shearwaters with Little Shearwater-type head patterns passing by.
    Good fun!

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