Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A "wreck" of Leach's petrels

Severe storms in the Altantic over the last week or so have driven large numbers of Leach's storm petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) onto the coasts of Britain. This species is a bit bigger than our familiar European "stormies", with a forked tail and a whitish bar on the upperwing.

A Leach's petrel killed by storms in a previous "wreck" of petrels, on the Portuguese coast (Photo from A Rocha Portugal)

Several thousand petrels were "wrecked" on the coast, and some were even driven far inland by the strong winds. One place where many of the storm-driven birds gathered was in the Severn Estuary, on the Wales-England border. It was here that I had close views of 5-6 tired looking petrels on December 7th.

At the same time, four Leach's petrels took refuge at Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir, a few miles inland from the coast of South Wales.

One of the Leach's petrels at Eglwys Nunydd

One of these birds was so exhausted that local birdwatcher Barry Stewart tried to rescue it (as this seemed the bird's only chance of survival), by swimming out into the reservoir. However, the bird somehow found the energy to flutter out of reach. Although the bird was later caught by more conventional means, it sadly died on the way to the local wildlife hospital.


Really very chilly

Thanks to Paul Roberts for the photos, and to Barry Stewart for the dedication to the cause!

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