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 ūüôā – 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

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

ant and stormie………………I think Anthony Hurd enjoys the variety that his work brings ūüėČ

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

About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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5 Responses to British Storm Petrel

  1. Sal Cooke says:

    Thanks Martin for a great round up of the Storm Petrel night, so glad you enjoyed it, Just to give a bit of further information – the night was actually organised by the East Yorkshire RSPB Local Group and as such was lead by David Woodmansey – and 61 people attended. Do please have a look for other events and trips arranged by the Group. EYLG were very grateful to YWT for access to the centre making the night a much more comfortable one than in previous years. The moth section of the night was lead by Tony Ezard with help from Ian Marshall, just to complete the picture

    • Martin Garner says:

      excellent thanks for filling in the gaps (and my gaffs) Sal

      • Sal Cooke says:

        no Gaffs Martin – just that often although the EY Local Group get confused as Bempton reserve- not that this is an issue and many of us volunteer for all the organsiations on the head – YWT, RSPB, FBO YNU etc etc – so all good fun – = – See you on the Skua trips

  2. Belinda says:

    What a truly wonderfull post!

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