Sunday 13 August 2017

Pelagic poetry

Of all the birds seen regularly in Britain, Balearic Shearwater is one of the rarest in global terms, being regarded as critically endangered by the IUCN. Tourist industry development near its breeding colonies and introduced mammals such as cats and rats are largely responsible for the perilous position of the species. Despite their small population, however, we are fortunate to see them annually off Portland Bill, but pelagic trips, such as the ones I enjoyed last weekend on the Isles of Scilly, generally provide better opportunities to see the species up close. On my first trip of three this year, an evening excursion, one flew alongside the Sapphire long enough for a few pictures. It was outnumbered by Sooty and Great Shearwaters, which we saw on all three days, and Manx Shearwaters, which have been present in the waters around Scilly in their thousands over recent weeks. All four species seem to move so effortlessly over the open sea - poetry in motion and a joy to watch.
Balearic Shearwater off Scilly, 4th August
A view showing the plain upperwings and toes protruding beyond the tail
Note the unclean white underparts and pot-bellied appearance...
...compared to the more clearly contrasting black and white Manx Shearwater
The black upperparts of Manx Shearwater can be invisible against a dark sea but its' presence is revealed when it banks to reveal gleaming white underparts
Manx Shearwater overtaking the Sapphire
A very elegant bird in flight
We disturbed several small rafts of Manx Shearwater as we headed out of St Mary's
Sooty Shearwater were seen frequently
Note darker belly and longer wings compared to Balearic Shearwater
Like the Great Shearwater, this is another long distance wanderer from the southern oceans
An effortlessly flier which overtook us with ease
Sooty Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater shows a silvery underwing and flesh coloured feet
A bit close to fit the whole bird in the frame
This bird was with a small raft of Manx Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater - all the key features on view here

No comments:

Post a Comment