Leach’s Petrel – records since 2000

Oceanodroma leucorhoaPedryn-Drycin Gynffon FforchogProbably a regular visitor in variable numbers.

See here for a summary and analysis of records to 2012

2000 Recorded only at Strumble Hd, where singles on 5,11 & 12 Oct and 3 Nov, 4 on 8 Sept and 11 on 31 Oct.

2001 3 St David’s Hd 16 Sept, total of 260 logged passing Strumble Hd on 10 dates, 19 Aug – 16 Sept, also one there 8 Nov, maxa 35 on 8 Sept, 81 on 15 Sept and 122 on 16 Sept, the latter a new daily max for Pembs.

2002 14 Goultrop Rds 3 Feb (KJSD, GHR, AS), 6 Strumble Hd 6 Feb (CB, GHR et al ). No autumn records.

2003 Singles Strumble Hd 8 Sept, 8 & 9 Oct, 2 on 6 Oct, 10 on 7 Oct, 15 on 4 Oct and 19 on 23 Sept.

2004 Strumble Hd 13 in August, 85 in Sept, 2 in Oct and 1 in Nov. Max passage 47 on 23 Sept. Only other record was of 3 in Newport Bay 23 Sept.

2005 One Strumble Hd 23 Aug, 4 on 27 Sept, 5 on 29 Sept, 29 on Oct, 22 on 2 Oct and 6 on 4 Nov. Singles S of Grassholm 18 Sept and N of the Smalls 20 Sept.

2006 Single Caldey Sound 29 Aug, Strumble Hd 29 Aug, 21 & 22 Sept and 1 Oct, with 2 on 7 Sept & 7 Oct.
Marked “wreck” inshore during onshore gales in Dec, when 7 Newgale 3 Dec, 3 on 4 Dec and 22 on 7 Dec, 7 Druidston 7 Dec, 14 Strumble Hd 8 Dec, with 4 on 9 Dec, c. 150 Freshwater W 5 Dec (a new county day max) 37 there 7 Dec. Singles seen in car parks at Cwm yr Eglwys 7 Dec and riverside, Haverfordwest, 3 Dec, latter rescued but later died.

2007 All records were from Strumble Head with singles on 3rd, 10th, 17th, 22nd and 24th Sept, and 3 on 25th Sept

2008 One in North Haven Skomer on 3rd Oct, otherwise all records were from Strumble Head where a single passed on the 11th Aug . & 13th Sept. In October, a total of 5 were logged on the 1st , 6 on the 2nd, and 9 on the 3rd.

2009 All records were – Strumble Head Singles in Sept on 8th & 9th another on 4th Oct with 3 on 5th Nov. Elsewhere one Ramsey 23rd Nov (2nd record for the island) and one at Freshwater West on 25th Nov.

2010 All records were from Strumble Head where in September, two passed on 12th, six on 15th, 120 on 16th and two on 17th. One passed on 19th Oct.

2011 Strumble Head had 75 birds which were recorded on eight dates between 13th Sept & 19th Oct, max 33 on 18th Sept. One was seen off Ramsey on 6th Oct.

2012 At Strumble Head 47 birds passed on five dates between 11th Sept & 28th Oct, max 29 on 18th Sept. A single off Ramsey on 11th Sept. Recorded passing Ramsey, one on 11th Sept and two on 18th.

2013 At Strumble Head a total of 37 birds passed on seven dates between 16th Sept & 3rd Nov, max 22 on 18th Sept.

2014 Only five recorded off Strumble Head this year, a single on 19th Oct and four on 21st of the same month. Ramsey had single birds on 21st Oct & 7th Nov, the first records there since 2011.

2015 At Strumble Head eleven birds recorded, a single on 21st Oct, nine on 21st Nov and another single on 11th Dec. One spring/early summer record, on May 22nd one seen from a boat 30 nautical miles SW of Skomer.

2016 A single bird on 30th Aug was the only record for the year.

2017 The best year for this species for some time at Strumble Head, 103 birds recorded, maximum 50 on 9th Sept. 22 recorded passing Ramsey on 15th Sept was an island record. One off Skomer on 21st Oct was observed to be taken by a Peregrine and another was seen the following day.

2018 The only records came from Strumble Head: seven on 21st Sept and three on 23rd Sept.

2019 Passage off Strumble Head, all records were in September: 19 on 1st, one on 4th, three on 5th and two on 7th. Elsewhere: one in Fishguard Harbour on 5 Sept and two off Teifi Estuary mouth on 4 Sept.

2020 One off Skomer 26 Aug and two off Strumble Head on 8 Oct, with one 16 Nov.

2021 – A total of 56 logged passing Strumble Head: four 29 Sept, in October twenty on 5th & 6th, one
21st and two on 29th; in November seven on 5th and one on 21st; and finally, one on 8 Dec.
One picked up and taken into care, ringed then released at Strumble Head on 7 Oct.

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

More about the Leach’s Petrel in Pembrokeshire

Leach’s Petrel – 2012

Oceanodroma leucorhoaPedryn-Drycin Gynffon FforchogProbably a regular visitor in variable numbers. Not recorded in January, March, April or August.

Breeds around the North Atlantic and North Pacific, migrating south to winter in regions of tropical convergences.

Summer

Leach’s Petrels have been noted visiting Storm Petrel breeding colonies at Skokholm, occasionally singing, as follows: 15th July 1966, 22nd – 23rd June 1976, 1st June 1978, 21st May, 9th and 12th June 1980, 22 June 1989 and two birds were seen and heard regularly between the 1st June and 2nd July 1977.

Autumn

“Not very rare as a visitor in stormy weather” wrote Mathew (1894), this based on his visiting various collections of stuffed birds and noting down information imparted by numerous sporting friends and taxidermists. This method evidently worked but with the demise of collecting specimens Lockley et al (1949) had no such network available to them, noting only one occurrence “in the last fifty years”, picked up at Pembroke Dock on the 12th November 1931.

A large scale “wreck” of Leach’s Petrels took place on the western seaboard of Britain and Ireland between the 21st October and the 8th November 1952. It was thought to have been caused by widespread gales and persistent strong winds over the North Atlantic during October. It is probable that the whole North Atlantic population of Leach’s Petrels was affected, not just the European component. Hence Canadian birds might well have been among the 88 dead and five alive found along a quarter of a mile stretch of Newgale beach on the 27th October, two dead at Dale before the 2nd November, three dead at Marloes before the 2nd November and “several” others there before the 4th November. (Boyd,1954).

Just six birds were recorded over the following 30 years, namely: one picked up in an exhausted condition at Broad Haven (N) on the 1st November 1954, which recovered and flew off; one at the Gann on the 19th October 1959; three seen from the Fishguard to Rosslare ferry on the 15th September 1966; one off Strumble Head on the 22nd September 1974.

There was an upsurge in the number of active observers from the early 1980’s. There was also a growing interest in seawatching and an improvement in the quality of optical equipment, which resulted in a better understanding of the status of the Leach’s Petrel in Pembrokeshire.

The main observer effort was made at Strumble Head, which proved to be well placed for witnessing autumn seabird movements. Leach’s Petrels were recorded in variable numbers in most autumns from 1983 onwards, the majority passing in September and October but also a few in August, one as early as the 3rd, and into November up to the 20th. Peak numbers were recorded when there were strong winds from the north-west or north. None were seen when there were winds with an easterly component. 

Day maxima counts were: 79 on the 13th September 1997, 85 on the 7th September 1990, 109 on the 13th September 1988, 81 on the 15th September 2001 followed by 122 the following day, and 120 on the 16th September 2010. 

Few have been recorded in autumn away from Strumble Head, they were singles at the Smalls on the 24th September 1983 and 20th September 2005, Fishguard Harbour on the 19th November 1990, from the Fishguard to Rosslare ferry on the 30th August 1995, Newport Bay on the 17th October 1998 and 23rd September 2004, Ramsey 11th September 1997 and Grassholm on the 18th September 2005, with three off St David’s Head on the 16th September 2001.

Winter

BWP notes that stragglers remain in the North Atlantic during winter which may explain December sightings of singles at Strumble Head on the 26th 1997, Newgale on the 24th 1989, Wiseman’s Bridge on the 24th and 25th 1989 and six in Angle Bay during December 1989. Additionally, in December 2006 a total of at least 240 were reported from Strumble Head, Newgale, Druidston and Freshwater West, 150 of them at the latter locality, and singles were found stranded in car parks at Cwm yr Eglwys and Haverfordwest.

There have been no January sightings but one was at Fowborough (Daugleddau) on the 6th February 1983, 14 at Goultrop Roads on the 3rd February 2002 and six at Strumble Head on the 6th February 2002, the 2002 records part of a larger incursion when 314 were noted off Aberaeron, in neighbouring Ceredigion on the 6th February. None have been recorded in March but three were seen off St Govan’s Head on the 4th April 1998.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

BOYD. H. 1954. The “wreck” of Leach’s Petrels in the autumn of 1952, British Birds, Vol 47 : 137-163.

CRAMP. S. (Editor), 1977 – 1994. Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa : the birds of the Western Palearctic, Oxford University Press, 9 Vols.

LOCKLEY. R. M, INGRAM. C. S. and SALMON. H. M.1949. The birds of Pembrokeshire, West Wales Field Society.

MATHEW. M. 1894. The birds of Pembrokeshire and its islands, R. H. Porter.

More about the Leach’s Petrel in Pembrokeshire

Leach’s Petrel – 1994

Oceanodroma leucorhoaPedryn-Drycin Gynffon FforchogProbably a regular visitor in variable numbers. Not recorded in January, March, April or August.

Mathew (1894) stated that “it is not very rare as a visitor in stormy weather”. Lockley et al. (1949) expressed surprise at this statement for they knew of only one occurrence “in the last fifty years”. Saunders (1976) stated that the Leach’s Petrel was normally “a rare storm driven visitor to the county” but drew attention to an exceptional wreck in October/ November 1952, when 88 dead and 5 live birds were noted along a 0.5 km stretch of Newgale Beach (Boyd 1952).

Post-Lockley et al., and the 1952 wreck apart, Leach’s Petrels were recorded on only five occasioris offshore up to 1980, while one or two were found visiting Storm Petrel colonies at Skokholm in May to July of the years 1966, 1976-1978, 1980 and 1989. Single birds were noted at Fowborough in the Cleddau Estuary on 6 February 1983 and at the Smalls on 24 September 1983, but regular sea-watching at Strumble Head since 1980 has indicated that a few occur most years, probably every year. Up to ten are usually seen between September and November and they become more numerous during north-west gales; for example, 109 passed Strumble Head on 13 September 1988. Severe gales in late December 1989 resulted in singles being seen at Newgale and Wiseman’s Bridge and at Angle Bay six were seen.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

BOYD, H. 1952. The “wreck” of Leach’s Petrel in the autumn of 1952. British Birds 47: 137-163.

SAUNDERS, D.R. 1976. A brief guide to the birds of Pembrokeshire. Five Arches Press.

More about the Leach’s Petrel in Pembrokeshire

Leach’s Fork-tailed Petrel – 1949

Oceanodroma leucorrhoa leucorrhoa

Mathew rather surprisingly described it as a not very rare visitor in stormy weather.  He gives no definite records, and only one has been recorded in the fifty years since, picked up at Pembroke Dock, 12 Nov 1931, and sent to the National Museum of Wales.

R.M.Lockley, G.C.S.Ingram, H.M.Salmon, 1949, The Birds of Pembrokeshire, The West Wales Field Society

More about the Leach’s Petrel in Pembrokeshire

Leach’s Petrel – 1894

Procellaria leucorrhoa

This is a little larger than the Storm-Petrel, is of a browner black, has a grey line across the edges of the wing-coverts, and a deeply forked tail, so that one of its common names is the Fork-tailed Petrel. It is not known to breed on any of our islands, but it is not very rare, as a visitor in stormy weather, and, like the Storm-Petrel, is occasionally picked up inland. The Rev. Clennell Wilkinson believes that a Petrel seen by him skimming over a pool in the Burrows in his parish of Castle Martin one day in the summer was a Fork-tailed Petrel. Mr. Dix states that it has been taken several times after severe storms in Milford Haven, and saw one in Tracy’s shop in Pembroke that had been picked up near that town.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Leach’s Petrel in Pembrokeshire

Leach’s Petrel

Oceanodroma leucorhoaPedryn-Drycin Gynffon FforchogProbably a regular visitor in variable numbers. Not recorded in January, March, April or August.

Leach’s Petrel – 2012

Oceanodroma leucorhoa – Pedryn-Drycin Gynffon Fforchog – Probably a regular visitor in variable numbers. Not recorded in January, March, April or August. Breeds around the North Atlantic and North Pacific, migrating south to winter in regions of tropical convergences. Summer Leach’s Petrels have been noted visiting Storm Petrel breeding colonies at Skokholm, occasionally singing, as […]

Leach’s Petrel – 1994

Oceanodroma leucorhoa – Pedryn-Drycin Gynffon Fforchog – Probably a regular visitor in variable numbers. Not recorded in January, March, April or August. Mathew (1894) stated that “it is not very rare as a visitor in stormy weather”. Lockley et al. (1949) expressed surprise at this statement for they knew of only one occurrence “in the last fifty […]