Petrel of the Leach

1 Leach (PM)

Monster! Leach’s Petrel caught and ringed last night (Ptolemy McKinnon) 

2 Leach (PM)

Forked tail and distinctive wing pattern (Ptolemy McKinnon)

3 Leachs

Tube nose!

Monday 1st August comments: Well we welcomed August in with a bang! Last night we tried our hands at Storm Petrel ringing (being led by David and Margaret Thorne) which is the art of luring Storm Petrels by tape during the dark hours. The tried and tested method is simple in process, as we set up nets (under licence) play a continuous loop of calls and then wait.

Storm Petrels are small nocturnal birds which feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish off the surface of the sea and are affectionately known as Mother Carey’s Chickens or St.Peter’s birds (as they walk on water). The nearest breeding colonies are in Shetland to the north of the May but birds wander down the North Sea to feed at night. Over the next few weeks we hope to catch good numbers but last night was even more special as we caught something even more unusual…

Just after 02:00 a larger Petrel was caught in the net and it proved to be a Leach’s Petrel, the larger cousin of the Storm Petrel. Unlike Storm petrels, very few are caught and this represented the 12th record for Isle of May (five have been caught). The buzz around the island when the bird was caught was exciting and all residents managed to catch-up with it, even if it did mean waking a few people up!

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