Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A 'Find' of a Lifetime - SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL in Arctic Norway

I say find but as with any of the best rare bird discoveries this was in fact just a mix of being in the right place at the right time, in affect luck! For everyone who has not seen the article in Birding World a quick summary of this amazing record. Mark Bannister and myself were birding at Nesseby Church, Varanger, in Arctic Norway, on the evening of June 6th 2009 when I tracked a passing Arctic Skua with my camera only to see it attack a seabird in front of us which quickly proved to be a pterodroma petrel; the bird was only in view for a few minutes before flying off down the fjord towards Vadso but I managed to get a set of small images of the bird with a 500mm lens and these proved on inspection to show what most people agree is a SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL - only the second for the Western Palearctic and the first for the North Atlantic; in fact there has been only one other record in the Western P and that was off Eilat North Beach. The full significance of this record will take a while to register but in effect it means that claims of pterodromas in the North Sea will now need to exclude this southern species rather than just being assumed to be Fea's or Zino's.

To get decent photos of any rare seabird is a real challenge but getting shots of a pterodroma from the shore is staggering and I am still in shock after 5 weeks!
For even more mouthwatering shots, browse http://pewit.blogspot.com/2009/07/soft-plumaged-petrel-2.html
Graham Catley

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