02 December 2009

Leach's Storm-petrel at Afan Argoed!

During the minor seabird 'wreck' in the second half of November there were small numbers of Leach's Storm-petrels sighted at various sites up the Bristol Channel, though only one observation of a bird in our area has come to light, this sadly being of a dead bird from Afan Argoed. Simon Allen form the Gower Bird Hospital made these interesting observations and wrote:

'Have had a couple of petrels in:
23/11/09 Afan Forest Park, dead on arrival, missing left Leg from proximal tarsus.
25/11/09 Ammanford, moribund, missing right leg from distal tarsus.
You are probably aware of this but apparently the petrel family is well known for their frequent missing toes and limbs (J Ornithol (2007) 148:333–346). There are many hypotheses, ranging from predatory fish (Harrison 1955; Pitman 1961; Threlfall 1974; Love 1984) as well molluscs, gulls and marine mammals.

Simon makes further reference to research on this phenomenon in an abstract that can be found at http://www.jstor.org/stable/27669760. To see details of the work carried out by the Gower Bird Hospital check out http://www.gowerbirdhospital.org.uk/
For photos of live Leach's check out the bird sightings page of the Portland Bird Observatory website http://www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/

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