A special place... The Isles of Scilly are one of only two places in England where Manx Shearwaters breed

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Under threat...The Isles of Scilly hold 3,000 fewer pairs of breeding seabirds than 25 years ago

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We need YOUR help to protect our important seabird heritage

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Between Penzance and Wolf Rock Lighthouse, it was soon evident that huge numbers of Manx Shearwaters were present. 2,965+  were logged, with many huge rafts it was an amazing sight!  

672+ Gannets were also recorded, many of which were feeding with the dolphins, porpoises, tuna and fish shoals. 

Before passing the Wolf Rock Lighthouse we had a good selection of other seabirds, including 7 Storm Petrels, 1 Wilson's Petrel, 9, Fulmars, 4 Dunlin, 1 Grey Phalarope on seaweed, 1 Great Skua, 4 Great Black-backed Gulls, 1 Shag and 1 Kittiwake.

Cetaceans showing themselves were 80+ Common Dolphins, 3 Bottlenose Dolphins and 10 Harbour Porpoise.

From Wolf Rock to St Mary's the number of Manx Shearwaters became more countable with around 336. A few larger Shearwaters appeared as expected from the recent days reports, with 8 Cory's, 1 Great and 1 Sooty Shearwater. The second Wilson's Petrel of the trip was seen passing closely a smaller Storm Petrel. Another 10 "Stormies" were seen along with 56 Gannets, 1 Fulmar and 12 Shags. 22 Sandwich Terns, mostly roosting were seen as we entered Hugh Town Harbour. The only cetacean was a brief Minke Whale emergence seen by Viv.

Leaving St Mary's the visibility had greatly reduced due to drizzle and mist. However we managed to see 7 Cory's, 1 Great, 3 Sooty and 215 Manx Shearwaters before passing Wolf Rock Lighthouse. 9 Storm Petrel showed often close. A birder from the other side of the ship ran over to our side to warn of an interesting bird crossing the front. Vivian managed to find it distantly and they agreed it was a very early Leach's Petrel. Also seen 81 Gannets, 8 Fulmar, 4 Shags and 2 LBB, 1 GBB Gulls.

From Wolf the poor visibility and light rain continued right up to Penzance. Gone were the earlier numerous large loafing rafts of Manx Shearwaters, replaced by a steady stream of over 534 Manx flying west along the Cornish coast. Also seen were 1 Great Shearwater, 3 Storm Petrels, 3 Fulmars, 5 Common Scoter and a flock of 50 Whimbrel that flew over. 102+ Gannets were making good use of the 17 Common Dolphins feeding in the area.

 Brian Craven & Vivian Stratton 

Scillonian Wildlife Volunteers.

(+ Nick Gardner, regular fellow traveller)

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Principal Funders

Project Partners

  • RSPB
In addition to generous support from LIFE, the EU’s program for financing key environmental schemes across the continent and the UK’s own Heritage Lottery Fund, the Seabird Recovery Project is also being supported by the Isles of Scilly’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Sustainable Development Fund and the Isles of Scilly Bird Group.