Storm Petrel (European Storm-Petrel)
Distribution Britain 48 (+11.9%) Ireland 19 (+11.8%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 80,000 ? Ireland 70,000 ?
European status: 450,000 ? (33% in Britain and Ireland =2)
British population trend: unknown good?
This tiny black and white seabird very similar in size to a House Martin but with all black plumage save for the white rump is very difficult to spot in daylight at sea and only comes near land at night. It is not an easy bird to document and techniques for proper census of breeding colonies are only now being proposed and refined. Major colonies exist all along the West coast of Ireland, off Pembrokeshire and along the West coast of Scotland and in the Northern Isles. Where they have been lost, rats or cats are probably to blame. However there is a new factor as Great Skuas, which have only colonised St Kilda recently, are calculated to have taken 7,450 Storm Petrels in 1996! It is not at all certain what impact even this rate of predation might have on the breeding population. Prospects good were it not for the threat from Great Skuas.
Gilbert, G., Hemsley, D. & Shepherd, M. 1998 Scottish Birds: 19, 145-153.
Mainwood, A.R. et al. 1997 Seabird: 19, 22-30.
Phillips, R.A., Thompson, D.R. & Hamer, K.C. 1999 J. Appl. Ecol.: 36, 218-232.
Ratcliffe, N. et al. 1998 Scottish Birds: 19, 154-159.
Wood, D. 1997 Seabird: 19, 40-46.
The following Bird On! sketch is available:
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead