Sooty Shearwater – records

Ardenna grisea – ADERYN –DRYCIN DU – Regular autumn passage migrant. Has not been recorded in February, June or November.

Earlier records are summarised in Sooty Shearwater 1994 and Sooty Shearwater 2006

Monthly totals of birds passing Strumble Head 2007-2020:

YearAugustSeptemberOctoberMax day count
200722506 on 24 September
20082462732 on 2 September
200945192424 on 3 October
2010161918 on 15 September
201114260287 on 7 September
76 on 5 September
20122188247 on 24 September
20134115283 on 16 September
201416336 on 30 August
2016255626 on 4 September
201761115 on 11 September
2018251210 on 24 August
2019222 on 1 September

Data from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports and Adrian Rogers with other Strumblers.

Additional notes from Bird Reports:

2007 – Only non-Strumble record was of a single off Newgale on 18 Nov

2009 – Elsewhere 12 from a Sea Trust Pelagic on 23 Sept, 10 near Grassholm 25 Sept. Singles off the Deer Park on 18th Aug, off St. Govan’s Head 4th & 6th Sept and off Ramsey Island on 1st Nov (6th island record) which coincidentally was the last date that one was reported from Strumble Head where a total of 89 passed between 17th Aug and 1st Nov.

2010 – Only one non-Strumble record, from Grassholm on 23 Aug.

2011 – First recorded at Strumble Head on 17 July. The total of 277 from Strumble Head is the 3rd highest yearly total ever recorded.

2012 – Passed Strumble Head on a total of 20 dates between 18 Aug & 3 Oct, max 47 on 24 Sept. A single bird was recorded past Skokholm on 16 Sept.

2013 – A total of 123 passed Strumble Head on 14 dates between 14 Aug & 3 Nov. Elsewhere five were seen from Ramsey Island on 16 Sept and one on 3 Nov, two off St.Davids Head on 24 Oct and singles off Skokholm on 4 Aug and off Grassholm on 6 Aug.

Skokholm – One east past the Lighthouse on 4th August, a day which saw over 60,000 Manx Shearwaters pass in moderate southerly winds, was the only record of the year (RDB). This perhaps reflects the unseasonably calm or predominantly easterly autumn period and a corresponding absence of observers at the seawatching hide. However it should also be noted that two days of strong southwesterlies followed by northerlies in mid-September, which saw good numbers to our north, failed to produce any Skokholm records.

2014 – Quite a poor year at Strumble Head, 22 birds in total recorded on only nine days. September is usually the peak month for “Sooties” but the wind conditions this year were very poor in sea-watching terms, hence the low totals. Single Birds were seen from Skomer on 30 July, the Fishguard to Rosslare Ferry on 20 Aug, from the Cartlett Lady on a Seatrust Survey on 4 Sept and from Ramsey on 21 Oct.

2015 – Another poor year at Strumble Head, starting with a single on 19th July. Skokholm had a single bird on 12 Aug and one off Ramsey on 22nd Oct.

2016 – At Strumble Head a much better showing in 2016 with a total of 81 birds on 15 dates between 4th Aug & 29th Sept, max 26 on 4th Sept. Skokholm had single birds on 21st Aug & 4th Sept with three on 3rd Sept. Off Skomer, seven on 4th Sept and a single on 16th Oct. One off Ramsey on 20th Aug.

2017 – A poor year with only 18 birds recorded at Strumble Head, maximum five on 11th Sept. One off Skomer on 27th Aug and singles off Skokholm on 27th July and 28th Aug

2018 – Singles off Skokholm: 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th Aug and 8th Sept. A total of 37 logged passing Strumble Head: three on 16th Aug, 10 on 24th Aug, eight on 27th and five on 21 Sept.

2019 – Total of four logged passing Strumble Head, singles 18 & 31 Aug and two 1 Sept. Off Skokholm: singles on 10, 16,18, 22, 25, 29 & 30 Aug


Very few recorded passing Strumble Head: a total of 13 in August, max seven on 23rd, and in September, singles on the 5th, 24th & 25th. The only other records were: off Skokholm 31 July 16 Aug, two on 21st and one 24 Aug, two off Skomer 3 Aug and a single on 25 Aug, one off Ramsey 26 Aug and two on 25 Sept.

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports which may contain more detail than shown here

Photo credit: dfaulder, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

More about the Sooty Shearwater in Pembrokeshire