Sunday, 14 September 2014

Monteiro's Storm-petrel photoshoot

A couple of weeks birding in London quickly brings you back down to earth after a session in the mid-Atlantic. Whinchat and Greenshank this weekend, Lesser Whitethroat and Whitethroat last weekend the only slight bits of interest. So, without any more ramblings, here are a selection of Monteiro's Storm-petrel photos from the seas and land off Graciosa.

Monteiro's Storm-petrels on Ilheu da Praia, August 2009. I was privileged to be able to spend a couple of nights in the colony on this uninhabited island, a great experience that is brought back to me every time I sail past it.
This cryptic species is the 'hot' season breeder on the Azores, with egg laying going on from May to early July - hatching spans from early June and the last chicks fledge by early October. This in itself provides a bit of a headache for those looking for 'cold' season [Grant's] Storm-petrels at sea on August and September pelagics, as young Monteiro's will have a full set of wings too.

Monteiro's Storm-petrels off Graciosa August 2014 (top three) and August 2013 (bottom two)
Here are a few fresh plumaged Monteiro's Storm-petrels from pelagics in late May/early June - it was only on the last day of these that we discovered the Bank of Fortune. This area, therefore, is relatively untouched in what I reckon will prove to be the best time for Black-capped Petrel in Azorean waters, plus other pterodromas...

Monteiro's Storm-petrel off Graciosa, May 2011. Note the fresh appearance of these birds at this time of year.
Monteiro's Storm-petrel is the guaranteed star of pelagic trips off Graciosa that I've been involved in during recent years, and up to 50 birds can usually be seen on a full day visit to the Bank of Fortune.
Monteiro's Storm-petrel chick, Ilheu da Praia August 2009
There are just a couple of places left on next year's trip (the last week of August 2015), so do contact me if you're interested.

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