Thursday, 8 June 2017

Storm Petrels off Dungeness

Dungeness - 0845-1100hrs - cool, cloudy, sw 4 - Not long after I left site yesterday afternoon Storm Petrels started filtering past the fishing boats; a total of 26 were recorded before lights out heading west. So this morning I joined DW, PB and TG at the boats and it was no surprise that more Storm Petrels were trickling through, at least another 30 by midday, of which I managed to see six, most of which were well offshore. Also noted a steady westward flow of Gannets, Fulmars, Manx Shearwaters, Kittiwakes, plus a few auks, Common Scoters and Sandwich Terns, a Grey Seal and several Porpoises.
  Presumably the Stormies were displaced into the North Sea by the gale force winds earlier in the week and were tacking back through the Channel towards the Atlantic. Storm Petrels breed along the western seaboard of Britain and Ireland where the nearest known English colonies are on Scilly, and probably some of the Cornish peninsulas, although the few breeding sites in north-west France are closer.
  The previous weather related `wreck` of Stormies in my time down here was back in the spring of 2006. That too was preceded by gale force winds and involved a total of 411 birds between 21st and 28th May;  I even managed to find one on Lade north, shortly before it got eaten by a Herring Gull!
  So, they are quite a rarity in this part of the English Channel, but it remains to be seen whether or not this latest movement will upstage the unprecedented events of 2006.

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