Storm Petrel Ringing At Flamborough

In 1988, the North Sea Storm Petrel Group was set up to study the movements and breeding biology of this most enigmatic of small seabirds. All the coastal ringing  stations north of the Humber were asked to participate, and the data collected over many years was analysed.

Trapping Method: A mist net is erected parallel to the sea and sound equipmentplaced 2 or 3 feet to the landward side of the net with the speakers directed out to sea. The optimum height for this operation is 10 to 20 feet above sea level in order for the sound to travel across the top of the sea. An absolute prerequisite for this operation to be effective is an offshore wind for the sound to carry out (listen to podcast below) to the birds which are anything from 1 to 5 miles out at sea. All this takes place in July and August, during the hours of darkness, as the birds will not visit land during daylight for fear of predation by gulls.

Sites: Flamborough is fortunate in being a roughly triangular headland which, unlike most of the other ringing stations which are dependant on a sw or w wind, we can operate on a n or nw wind at South Landing (which faces south)  if need be. However, the main site is Thornwick Bay which faces ne like most of the other stations. 

Results: Since 1989, when a single bird was trapped at Thornwick on July 30th, a total of 383 birds have been ringed to date.in addition to many birds caught which have been ringed elsewhere, particularly the Scottish islands and Norway. Also, a substantial number of birds ringed at Flamborough, have been “controlled” at other ringing stations. The information gathered by the ringing stations over the years, strongly suggests that the birds search for food follows a clockwise movement from the breeding colonies on the islands off Scotland , ne towards Norway, then south down the western seaboard  of northern Europe until they reach northern Holland, when they head west across the north sea to the UK when they start to move north again, often following boats. The shallower waters further south are of little interest to the birds due to the relative paucity of food.

Texte alternatif

To lure the storm petrols in from the sea their distinctive call is recorded then played back by the ringers, who wait for them patiently on the beach


Storm Petrel by Mike Pearson