The day of the Petrels

I tried it several times so I know it holds true. On the Island of Gran Manan it didn’t matter where we were if I raised my bins to watch the sea for a minimum of 60 seconds I would see at least one Harbour Porpoise break the surface, often it would not be alone.

On one particular day however we had sailed out beyond Gannet Island with its distinctive lighthouse and had crossed a particularly rough patch of water called the devils half acre. I stared through my optics in disbelief; it didn’t matter which direction I turned all I could see from the boat to the horizon were Wilson’s Storm Petrels… in their thousands; a never ending cast of tiny dark dancing seabirds pitter-pattering across the waves. It was as if the whole scene was orchestrated by a million puppeteers. There seems to be good reason why they are often said to be the world’s most numerous bird. These birds are small no bigger than a sparrow and spend much of their life far from land on the ocean. Small and fast they were easily the most difficult bird I have ever photographed.

Each individual ‘walked’ on the water as it picked up copepods from the surface of the sea. Called Petrels from the similarity with St. Peter and the walking on water miracle  … a miracle indeed.

Wilsons Storm Petrel

Each dot on this photo among and beyond the humpbacks is a Wilson’s Storm Petrel

Wilson's Petrels



3 Responses to “The day of the Petrels”

  1. Sep 4, 2016 at 12:12 am

    Awesome shots!! Reminds me of my time in Alaska

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Sep 2016


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