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Leach's Petrels

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Old Sunday 3rd December 2006, 21:53   #1
pabs
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Leach's Petrels

Managed to catch up with some Leach's Petrels this afternoon at Severnside. This place is awsome for close views of sea birds in strong SW or W winds. The birds collect at the second severn crossing and don't like going under the bridge so i guess it must seem like a dead end to them. One of the leach's did actually go under the bridge and gained height and appeared to be hovering behind the bridge itself possibly making use of the shelter. Others were just yards from the tideline and one even spent a minute over the beach. 7 were counted all in all. Photographing was not easy but the best shot i managed is at the link below:

http://www.birdlist.co.uk/november2006.htm
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Old Sunday 3rd December 2006, 22:13   #2
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Great stuff Paul.

Was hoping one would pass Hope's Nose this morning where we were. No luck sadly.

I have started thinking of the sea watching potential of Foreland Point in North Devon near the Somerset border. Has it got form?
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Old Sunday 3rd December 2006, 22:29   #3
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Thumbs up

[quote=pabs]Managed to catch up with some Leach's Petrels this afternoon at Severnside. This place is awsome for close views of sea birds in strong SW or W winds.



As Paul send, the Second Severn Crossing acts as barrier, most birds including knackerd sea birds are reluctant to pas beneath it. They become trapped in the "burger bar bay" to the south of the bridge. As I sit typing this just 50 yards from the beach, the wind is still howling out there so I would expect more at first light and again late afternoon when the tide comes back in.

I managed a few shots as well at

http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/severnsidebirds and

http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/pdb2006avonyear

Last edited by Popeye : Monday 4th December 2006 at 06:16.
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Old Sunday 3rd December 2006, 23:32   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew
Great stuff Paul.

Was hoping one would pass Hope's Nose this morning where we were. No luck sadly.

I have started thinking of the sea watching potential of Foreland Point in North Devon near the Somerset border. Has it got form?
I imagine that it would be a great place for sea watching. I'm surprised that north devon does not turn up more birds. The reason I believe is that it is vastly underwatched? The somerset coast turned up some good birds today so they must have passed Devon. The angle of the winds will make a big difference so it would be worth remembering which ones are productive. SSW to W winds are good for my area (weston super mare) and severnside but if they are W to NW then they seem to collect more at Burnham on Sea. Perhaps this has a bearing on north devon sea watching. Sometimes keeping an eye on a cove or an estuary is good for collecting petrels, auks etc as they see it as a mini dead end.
P.S. Thanks to Paul (popeye) for the call about the birds.
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Old Monday 4th December 2006, 13:49   #5
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Can anyone explain why there are hundreds around all of a sudden? Is it all the winds? if so where have they been and why are they everywhere??
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Old Monday 4th December 2006, 14:35   #6
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Thanks Paul, I do get the feeling north east Devon is underwatched as it is a hard drive to get to (pretty though mind). I hope to go up there more often next year when I have no year list to worry about.

I shall try to get to Foreland Point in the next few days though if the winds suggest it could be good for the wrecked Leach's picking up their passage.
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Old Monday 4th December 2006, 15:23   #7
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I was at Slimbridge this morning and we had up to 15 Leach's from the Holden Tower! These were presumably birds blown in yesterday which are now trying to reorientate themselves. However most of them were going upstream (!), possibly because the winds there were still strong(ish); the few going downstream were battling a bit.
Unfortunately one was killed by a Peregrine, and a couple of others were attacked by crows and gulls so at least a few may not make it back out to sea.
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Old Monday 4th December 2006, 19:25   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gareth_blockley
Can anyone explain why there are hundreds around all of a sudden? Is it all the winds?
Basically, yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gareth_blockley
if so where have they been and why are they everywhere??
They've been out in the Atlantic, in their thousands. They are actually very numerous, their rarity is because they are entirely pelagic birds who prefer the deep ocean and come ashore only at night in spring to nest burrows on uninhabited islands. Given enough persistently bad weather, particularly during the autumn, a few will get blown back to blighty. After the autumn, most tend to be further south in the atlantic, into the tropics, and so it takes a hell of a blow to bring the numbers we are seeing.

See http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/guide/l...trel/index.asp

Last edited by bitterntwisted : Monday 4th December 2006 at 19:28.
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Old Monday 4th December 2006, 19:39   #9
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Never seen Leach's in moult like these - then again, I've never seen them this late in the year.
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Old Monday 4th December 2006, 19:46   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gareth_blockley
Can anyone explain why there are hundreds around all of a sudden? Is it all the winds? if so where have they been and why are they everywhere??
As well as being strictly pelagic outside of the breeding season, some chicks don't leave the nest until early Dcember so they're heading south just as Atlantic low pressure system conveyor belt gets going big time - not good if you have the wing area to body ratio of a Leach's!
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Old Monday 4th December 2006, 20:10   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane Turner
Never seen Leach's in moult like these - then again, I've never seen them this late in the year.
Leach's quite often appear here at Severn beach in winter gales, infact we expect them but usually in smaller numbers. The last time we got into double figures was back in 1989 and one of the features I remember from then was how "tatty" most of the birds were. A lot of this weeks birds are also in heavy moult. Perhaps the poor condition of their plumage is one of the reasons why they are here, being less suited to flying through the stormy weather?
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Old Tuesday 5th December 2006, 20:07   #12
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Popped down to Severn Beach this morning. A bit breezy but set up the scope and saw a Leach's Petrel and then another one. Got bored looking straight out so turned to look towards the bridge. Same in that direction - found one, then another and then one flew along the water line in front of me. Fantastic views and easy to see - wish all birding was like this. No, I don't as that would make it too easy and the enjoyment of finding birds would be gone. Went to Slimbridge to take some papers in and had a look for the Yellow-browed Warbler. Went into the hide, only one bird moving in the herbage to the right and there it was. A stunning little gem. This birding lark is easy - at least it was today and some days can be like that. Two species not often seen in Gloucestershire and/or South Gloucestershire.
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Old Tuesday 5th December 2006, 20:12   #13
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Saw three from Zeiss and Holden Towers, Slimbridge today. Also 1 live Bonxie and 1 dead Bonxie being eaten by a Raven.
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Old Thursday 7th December 2006, 17:53   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Touche
...some chicks don't leave the nest until early Dcember so they're heading south just as Atlantic low pressure system conveyor belt gets going big time
Usually though the British young have all fledged by the end of October (not sure about Icelandic birds?) however the birds recorded in moult in the postings above would, of course, be adults. Post-breeding is a full moult, from late September, and starts during migration, finishing just before return the following spring (Juvenile plumage is retained through to the first summer).
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Old Thursday 7th December 2006, 20:29   #15
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This is all thoroughly depressing. Leach´s is a bogey-bird for me, has eluded me on seawatches in the West of Ireland for about five years. Always seems to show up the day before or after I´ve been, or a few hours after I´ve left, even. Now with the current "wreck", two showed up last week in Swords estuary, north Dublin, and about 30 in Cork. And in Britain, they seem to be popping up practically in bird-baths. I´ve been scouring the coast around where I live (Wicklow, east of Ireland, directly across from Holyhead), to no avail. If they´re showing up on the Welsh and Cornish coasts, and they´re being blown in on South-Westerlies from the Atlantic, is Carnsore Point, Wexford, a good bet in a South-Westerly gale? It would seem to make sense geographically, yet I haven´t heard of any reports of Leach´s from there. Congratulations to all of you who´ve seen them this last week, incidentally!
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Old Thursday 7th December 2006, 21:02   #16
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Originally Posted by bitterntwisted
After the autumn, most tend to be further south in the atlantic, into the tropics, and so it takes a hell of a blow to bring the numbers we are seeing.
At least two reported in Chichester Harbour today, viewable from East Head (SOS)
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Old Thursday 7th December 2006, 22:18   #17
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There's been about ten seen off Milford today, and a few on previous windy days over this last week.

I just can't get there in daylight and I've got visitors coming at the weekend.
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Old Friday 8th December 2006, 00:51   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sancho
This is all thoroughly depressing.

I agree with you Sancho

Leach's Petrel would be a lifer for me me & living in landlocked Nottinghamshire, it's rare that i will get the opportunity to see them.

Today i notice that there are single birds on 2 of my old local patches in Leicestershire, and one less than 20 miles away at Ogston in Derbys yesterday (althoug i believe this one later died).

Unfortuantely i do not drive and have a busy weekend with family commitments, so probably will not get the chance to go out birding until next weekend.

I might get the chance to go to my local res tomorrow (Kingsmill in Mansfield) - work permitting, but it now looks like the weather is changing and the winds are dropping.

Feeling a bit gutted really!!

Ho hum

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Old Friday 8th December 2006, 13:31   #19
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I agree with you Sancho

I might get the chance to go to my local res tomorrow (Kingsmill in Mansfield) - work permitting, but it now looks like the weather is changing and the winds are dropping.

Feeling a bit gutted really!!

Ho hum

Mike
Yes, family commitments and all that, I know exactly what you mean... still, I hope you see them in Mansfield, it seems a lot are lingering around the British Coastline. They must be exhausted, given the numbers that seem to be reported lingering and eaten by gulls. Best of Luck, sincerely, connect with one for me!
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Old Friday 8th December 2006, 20:21   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sancho
Yes, family commitments and all that, I know exactly what you mean... still, I hope you see them in Mansfield, it seems a lot are lingering around the British Coastline. They must be exhausted, given the numbers that seem to be reported lingering and eaten by gulls. Best of Luck, sincerely, connect with one for me!

Thanks for the encouragement Sancho, but alas there were no Leach's Petrels at Kingsmill this afternoon! I was really willing there to be one (or a Kittiwake, or .. well anything unusual really!)

There wasn't a great deal about at all really, but a pleasant afternoon none the less.

On one hand i'm quite pleased that i didnt see one today. I've been thinking about what happens to all of these wrecked Petrels that have found themselves inland - will they make it back to the ocean? I somehow doubt it for most of them (who are probably quite exhausted anyway), i'd guess that they end up as gull lunch.

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Old Saturday 9th December 2006, 09:40   #21
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Still haven't managed to catch up with one of these birds. Are they still around? Where's the best site in Devon to see them?
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Old Sunday 10th December 2006, 18:44   #22
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I spent another few hours on Bray Head today, looking out into the Irish Sea towards Holyhead, trying to will a Leach´s into heading this way. No joy. Does anyone have any theories as to the origin of these birds? Were they making their way south from Scottish breeding grounds, down the west coasts of Scotland, Wales and SW England, when they were caught out by SW gales? Or were they already heading out into the Atlantic and blown back? There were only a few reported from Ireland - 5 from Galway, 30 from Cork, and 2 from North Dublin, over the last two weeks (although they breed in on the NW and W coasts of Ireland). The numbers from British coastal sites (and playing fields, reservoirs, rivers, estuaries and gardens!) was phenomenal. It´s also odd that they seem to be heading in various directions, some even northwards. Are they just very disorientated? I wish they were disoriented enough fly onto my doorstep (metaphorically speaking). Grateful for any advice or ideas. Ta!
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Old Sunday 10th December 2006, 19:30   #23
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Today might have been a better day to be at Bray. The weather here was SE - 180 degs wrong for Wirral. You need a force5+ onshore wind for a about 12 hours.
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Old Sunday 10th December 2006, 22:41   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane Turner
Today might have been a better day to be at Bray. The weather here was SE - 180 degs wrong for Wirral. You need a force5+ onshore wind for a about 12 hours.
Thanks for that tip, Jane! I´ll keep an eye on the wind over the next few days. The wind here today was unfortunately NW and strong, and there was I, staring out towards the horizon, thinking over there lies Lancs, and Merseyside, and Anglesea, and all those other places that could hold exotics like Leach´s (and woodpeckers, and nuthatches, and kites, and tawny owls..... you could drive yourself insane!)
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Old Sunday 10th December 2006, 23:52   #25
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Sancho, dont know what its like in Bray, but the winds here have quickened and changed direction again to the south west in the last couple of hours (very blustery now) - same as they were last week - i'm still holding out (admittedley weak) hopes for one at Kingsmill - i will be up there on tuesday. Keep looking & good luck.

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