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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The rarest of rare birds - Bermuda Petrel, off Kerry


Bermuda Petrel, 170 nautical miles West-Northwest of Slea Head, Co. Kerry (Ryan Wilson-Parr).

A Bermuda Petrel (also known as 'Cahow') was seen from the R.V. Celtic Voyager at 17:56pm today (Monday 19/05/2014) approximately 170 nautical miles west northwest of Slea Head, Co. Kerry during a survey for cetaceans and seabirds. It was picked up at c.250m range, over a water depth of 1,030m, at the head of a canyon on the western slope/shelf edge of the Porcupine Bank. It was on view for a maximum of 1 minute before heading off in a south east direction.

Observers: Niall T. Keogh, Ryan Wilson-Parr, Simon Berrow & Rossa Meade.

Also seen were 160+ Long-tailed Skuas migrating North through the area today including a single flock of c.90 birds.

With thanks to Niall Keogh

Bermuda Petrel was long thought to be extinct in the wild in the early 20th Century until 13–14 pairs were found breeding on three islets in Castle Harbour, Bermuda, in 1951. SInce then careful management of the breeding colonies, including the provision of underground burrow nest boxes and the translocation of chicks to predator-free islets off Bermuda, has lead to a gradual increase. Despite these concerted conservation efforts it remains one of the rarest birds in the world with the most recent estimated world population of just 250 adult individuals in 2005. For one to be seen in Irish territorial waters surely ranks as one of the rarest birds ever to be seen here in modern times.