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Churring chucking petrels

30 May 2014
The Leach's storm-petrel is a small and secretive species that is rarely seen by visitors to the island due to its nocturnal behaviour and nesting habits in burrows and amongst rocks.   PetrelBox - Adult incubating, close up

The sound they produce at night is, however, very distinctive and that's why Work Party 1 and I decided to head out one evening to try and listen to them.   We gathered together at 10pm but it was still far too light to head off so we passed the time skimming through old bird books and listening to some awful jokes!Some of Work Party 1 just before we set off to hear petrels at the Lovers Stone

We could see relatively well on the way to the petrel site so we stopped to look out over Gleann Mor and to investigate some old owl pellets.Work Party 1 enjoying last light on their walk to the Lovers Stone to listen to petrels

All was quiet to begin with but after a short while we heard the delightful, but completely ridiculous, sound of a petrel chuckling from inside a wall (click here for an example clip).  We moved slowly up the hill eventually stopping amongst a little cluster of cleits and it was there that the petrels put on their most spectacular performance. They called, churred and chuckled and even in the darkness we coud see birds fluttering about above us - some appeared to be mere inches over our heads! Just after 1am we decided to leave the birds and head home.  On the way back down the road we heard the other species of petrel that nests on the island calling nearby..... Amazing.  (click to hear an example of a European storm-petrel call)  


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