British wildlife recordings
Hydrobates pelagicus : Storm Petrel - Hydrobatidae
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Skokholm Island, Pembrokeshire: OS Grid Reference(173500,205500)
Storm Petrel, Hydrobates pelagicus
The song of the storm petrel, recorded on Skokholm Island, Pembrokeshire. The storm petrel is Britain's smallest seabird. Although it is little bigger than a sparrow, it is tough in character, spending almost all of its life at sea. Strong storms may blow the bird inland and explains why it has been known traditionally as a symbol of bad weather. The storm petrel's behaviour has in the past been likened to the qualities of Saint Peter. As with the biblical character, this petrel can be seen to 'walk' on the surface of water. This is achieved by the bird making concentrated, delicate wing-beats, just enough to keep it airborne. Its feet are seen to dangle and touch the surf as it looks for traces of food. This behaviour is typically seen when large groups of birds trail behind ships such as trawlers, where the disturbed water can reveal tasty morsels. Storm petrels only make contact with land when they breed. Remote islands westward off the British mainland are ideal. Sometimes petrels build burrows for their nests although rock cavities and, on occasion, derelict buildings are their preferred locations. One dull-white egg is laid, which both parents incubate. Colonies of these birds vary in size, from a few hundred to a few thousand. Storm petrels possess sooty-black plumage apart from a distinctive white rump and pale wing bars. Male and female are alike in appearance.