Posts Tagged ‘Wilson’s Petrel



In the aftermath of Irma there maybe a few wind blown waifs moving continents. Some North American birds will maybe end up here. Birds can succumb to strong winds. Regular vagrants to the sea off our shores are Wilson’s Petrels. Maybe there will be a few around on the Isles of Scilly when we do the tour there next month. Maybe there will be an American Redstart, after all there’s one in the Western Isles off Scotland as I write this. There’s no reason why there wouldn’t be another when we are on the Scillies. There will be some vagrant birds that’s for sure. There will always be something to see. There are always a few inter-continental visitors.

This Wilson’s Petrel was taken off Chile this January.



Friend Bob sent me some photos of a Leach’s Petrel he photographed flying up the beach at Walcott last week. Good photos they are too. They got me looking at some of my own Petrel photos I took in Canada last month. Wilson Petrels. This couple of photos show some of the identification features: the long legs trailing beyond the tail, the white wrap around rump, the square tail, the paddle shaped wings and if you look closely … the webs between the toes are yellow.

wilsons-petrel-1 wilsons-petrel-2


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




The ultimate photo-bomb

Wilson’s Petrel with Humpback Whale. Taken off Grand Manan in Canada earlier in the month.

Wilsons Petrel and Humpback Whale

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Jun 2023


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