Monday, 18 September 2017

Storm Aileen

Had a great day at Liverpool Bay yesterday (13.09.17). Storm Aileen assisted in getting me 3 lifers, all seabirds ! Grey Phalarope, Common Scoter and best of all Leach's Storm Petrel. The latter on migration from the northern reaches of the Atlantic to the Southern Oceans. How these little birds have the energy to do that totally amazes me. The Phalarope is also a bird that spends most of it's time at sea but can get blown inshore during storms.  Standing on the sand spits of Liverpool Bay, in 40mph winds and blustery showers watching these little birds head out to sea into the wind was just spectacular.

The Leach's Storm-petrel (Hydrobates leucorhous) breeds on inaccessible islands in the colder northern areas of the Atlantic and Pacific. It nests in colonies close to the sea in well concealed areas such as rock crevices, shallow burrows or even logs. It lays a single white egg which often has a faint ring of spots at the large end. This storm petrel is strictly nocturnal at the breeding sites to avoid predation by gulls and skuas, and will even avoid coming to land on clear moonlit nights. The largest colony of Leach's storm petrels can be found on Baccalieu Island of eastern Canada, an ecological reserve with more than 3 million pairs of the bird. It is strictly pelagic outside the breeding season, and this, together with its remote breeding sites, makes Leach's petrel a difficult bird to see from land. Only in storms might this species be pushed into headlands which is what happened in the UK this week and with this particular bird. 100s seen in UK waters this week.

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