Black-capped Petrel in the western Palearctic

TeufelssturmvogelA report of a Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) from the Northern Sea, maybe Heligoland, would be the Mega of the year. Even better, than the Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophris) which spend several weeks around the sea bird colony along the red cliffs on this sole off-shore island of Germany. In general observations of pelagic or oceanic birds are rare from the Northern Sea. Too shallow and too much secluded from the open big oceans, reports of seabirds of the Northern Sea normally refer only to some sightings of Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) or Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus). Reports of Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) or Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus) are even more rare.

Of the genus Pterodroma Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) is one of the most likely for the western Palearctic. The birds now breeds in Haiti and the Sierra de Baoruco region of the Dominican Republic. There are an estimated 1,000 to 5,000 breeding pairs The bird species is believed to be extinct on Guadeloupe, where it was quite common in the 19th century. Even during the breeding season Black-capped Petrels are highly pelagic. Most birds recorded are off the North Carolina coast, USA. Black-capped Petrels disperse over the Caribbean and Atlantic from the north-east USA to north-east Brazil, with four recent records in European waters. Otherwise very rare in the Western Palearctic with two old British records, one from Norfolk in the spring of 1850 and the other a tideline corpse found in December 1984 in Humberside.

The most recent report of Black-capped Petrel date back to September 07th 2011 from c.10 miles west of the island (Faial) on the Azores. One record 1 year earlier on May, 08th 2010. Birds were seen at least twice at the bow of a cruise ship c.200 nautical miles northeast of Madeira. One record is from Azores (Pico) from an off-shore trip May,22nd 2009. The closest to Germany reports dates back to August 13th 2003 when a Black-capped Petrel was seen Girdle Ness at the east coast of Scotland near Aberdeenshire.

The image, you see in the blog, was shot off Cape Hatteras, United States. Here, Black-capped Petrel are seen regulary – besides other oceanic birds as well As you can see, the Black-capped Petrel is a real Mega with only 4 recent observations. It is said, that the at-sea range has contracted in the north and west reducing the likelihood of occurrence furthermore.

Pelagic or oceanic or marine birds all describe bird species which spend a significant portion of its life on the open ocean, rarely venturing to land except to breed. Their flight is often described as elegant and beautiful. This is particulary true for the Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata), as you can see on the image on the right. Pelagic Birds are powerful fliers that can remain for hours while gliding or soaring over the waves. When the birds rest, they do so by swimming quite high (floating) on the water. Pelagic birds may be found hundreds or thousands of miles offshore. Pelagic birds typically feed on fish, squid and crustaceans as well as offal from fishing ships or trash dumped into the ocean. There are lots of pelagic bird species with a great range of sizes and ranges. In a – gallery you will find different species of pelagic birds found in the western Palearctic.

In order to meet the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic. Trips to many sites which can contribute to a WP-portfolio of birds were visited. Trips with Seabirding off-shore Hatteras, North Carolina to explore in a offer pelagic boat trip the dynamic ecosystem formed by the combination of the continental shelf edge and the Gulf Stream Current to capture images of rare birds were very successful. The nice images you find in the gallery are only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if I could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

Other successful shootings you can see under: in the pictures shop.

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