Wilson’s Petrel on Saturday’s Pelagic Trip

15.7.5Well it had to happen eventually! Our first pelagic of 2017 looked like it was going to be a shaky start; 2 people never showed, the seas were much higher than expected and comfortable!! As a result the rafts of shearwaters etc feeding on the growing “slicks” were scattered and gone. In fact we could not get out to where we prefer to “chum” and had to turn back east to get the swell behind us before finally trying a bottle of cod-liver oil.

     There were plenty of Gannets, Fulmars  and Manx Shearwaters ranging widely, a single Arctic Skua and just 2 Storm Petrels before we stopped. As soon as the chum hit the water “Stormies” began to appear, and by the time we had a dozen the long longed for Holy Grail arrived – a cracking u n-moulted (presumably juvenile) Wilson’s Storm Petrel, one of the most sought -after sea birds on the British list! It “bounced” in among the British/European Storm Petrels along the slicks and returned 2-3 times before we had to head back, allowing good, if brief, comparative views and even reasonable photographic opportunities (if I hadn’t set my camera up wrong!).
       Wilson’s is actually one of the commonest of all sea-birds but is a bird of the southern hemisphere. Like most petrels it wanders, and is regular in good numbers in the Western North Atlantic off the States, and even in much smaller numbers off the South West of Britain with most off Scilly. It is notoriously hard to see from shore though and has to be forced in by strong winds in most cases. It might not look much; a little bigger than Stormie, with longer legs, a pale band on the upperwing, and lacking stormies bright white stripe on the underwing, but this bird was pure gold! May it be the first of many!!
 Also saw ocean sunfish, 15-20 Common Dolphin, Yellow-legged and Mediterranean gulls. Cheers for now!!

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