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Travel Special
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus off Europe

Axel Halley & Andreas Noeske

Wilson's Storm-Petrel, 
© A. Noeske

Wilson's Storm-Petrel (Andreas Noeske)

Porter & Marr (1992) regarded Portugal as the worst place for getting boats for a pelagic trip when they tried trawlers and yachts. So, based on their own personal experience, it is no wonder that boat charter seemed to be really frustrating. Nevertheless it doesn‘t need to be that complicated to get the best views of a Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus. Indeed, we think the coastal waters of southern Portugal is the best place in Europe to watch and photograph Wilson‘s Storm-Petrel in a comfortable way and at a reasonable price. Although the Algarve, Europe’s southwestern most stretch of coast, is a popular holiday destination especially with British birdwatchers, the pelagic opportunity Lagos, Portimao, Vilamoura or Sagres has so far been neglected by Europe’s birding community almost completely.

This "Travel Special" deals with the pelagic situation in Europe with main emphasis on Wilson’s Storm-Petrel based on our own experience with trips off Portimao, Lagos and Sagres, extensive inquiry and personal communication with seawatchers in various countries.

Plate 1: Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus, off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA, 31st July 2005 (© Martin Lofgren),
Martin Lofgren’s Wild Bird Gallery.

Portugal: The Nitucha Pelagic on 31st August 2006

Plate 2: The Nitucha at Portimao harbour, Portugal. For further information: Nitucha

Plate 3: Alternatively, the Pescamar, for example, sails from the Marina de Lagos, Portugal, August/September 1998 (© Axel Halley). For further information: Pescamar


09:35   Departure from the pier at the "Clube Naval de Portimao" with Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross coming of the cabin’s loudspeaker, seven Sandwich Terns, many Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls in the harbour, very pleasant weather: 30°C, cloudless and wind SE 2-3.

09:50   Passing the harbour entrance, 500 Yellow-legged Gulls following a fishing boat.

10:12   The first Cory’s Shearwater puts in an appearance.

Plate 4: Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea, off Lagos, Portugal, 18th September 2004 (© Lars B. Eriksson).

Plate 5: Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea, off Lagos, Portugal, 18th September 2004 (© Lars B. Eriksson).

Plate 6: Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea, off Lagos, Portugal, 18th September 2004 (© Lars B. Eriksson).

Plate 7: Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea, off Lagos, Portugal, 18th September 2004 (© Magnus Hellström).
Correctly assessing the primary pattern of the underwing for separating Cory's borealis (Atlantic form) from Scopoli's diomedea (Mediterranean form) in the field can be very difficult. Even photos are not always conclusive due to the effects of different light conditions.

Underwing pattern in Scopoli’s Shearwaters Calonecris d. diomedea.
Azores: Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea borealis
Madeira: Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea borealis
Biscay, August/September 2002
Dakar, Senegal, October 2001
Dakar, Senegal, November 2003
Martin Lofgren’s Wild Bird Gallery
Martin Martin Lofgren’s Wild Bird Gallery: Cory’s and Cape Verde Shearwater Calonectris edwardsii
Martin PBase Galleries: Simon Tan

Plate 8: Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea, off Lagos, Portugal, August/September 1998 (© Stefan Pfützke).

10:30 Another Cory’s Shearwater and occasionally single Yellow-legged Gulls are flying around.

10:37 The first Wilson’s Storm-Petrel puts in a brief appearance much earlier than expected, materializing from nowhere, flying past the boat and sublimating to nothing as quickly as it appeared. Where could it have gone? There are hardly any waves to hide behind! Although the bird was quite close (perhaps only 100-200 m?), we could not see the feet protruding beyond the tail, but as there was no white line visible in the underwing, it had to be a Wilson’s. Well, the only storm-petrel which German birders have a fair chance of seeing along the North Sea coast or from the ship to Heligoland is Leach’s, and even than there are not many! So, we hope we are excused for not having identified our first ever Wilson’s Storm-Petrel on the spot. But we were sure that there were more to come and that we would get views ‘down to yellow feet‘. So we sat down again and enjoyed the trip.

Plate 9: Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus, off Lagos, Portugal, August/September 1998 (© Axel Halley).

10:42-45 Another four Cory’s and one Gannet.

10:48 One Cory’s and two Balearic Shearwaters, one of them as dark as a Sooty Shearwater.

Plate 10: Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus, Scilly-Pelagic, England, July 2004 (© Bryan Thomas) and Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus (left + right), Monterey Bay, California, USA, August 2003 (© Glen Tepke).

10:55 Another Gannet.

10:57 One unidentified Shearwater.

11:00 Four Cory’s, one Wilson’s and two Gannets.

11:08 One Cory’s, one Wilson’s.

Plate 11: "Preparing the meal", off Portimao, Portugal, 26th September 2006 (© Jan Goedelt).

Plate 12: "Lunchtime at sea", off Portimao, Portugal, 26th September 2006 (© Jan Goedelt).

Plate 13: Chumming, off Portimao, Portugal, 26th September 2006 (© Jan Goedelt).

The Wilson’s session

11:10 The boat stops approximately 7 miles off the coast and the engine is switched off, another Gannet.

11:13 Single Cory’s Shearwaters, Wilson’s and European Storm Petrels.

11:20 First chumming session, 1 Wilson’s.

11:22 Four Wilson’s are already close to the boat giving stunning views ‘down to yellow feet‘ as they walk on water.

Plate 14: Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus, off Lagos, Portugal, August/September 1998 (© Axel Halley).

Plate 15: Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus, off Lagos, Portugal, August/September 1998 (© Axel Halley).

Plate 16: Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus, off Lagos, Portugal, August/September 1998 (© Axel Halley).
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel characteristically flutters or hovers over the water surface giving the illusion of 'walking on water'. The ‘hovering' flight while feeding appears to be unlike the typical soaring patterns or slow forward flight of other birds. Because of the bird‘s habit of pattering its feet on the water surface with wings fully extended and held almost motionless over the back to form a dihedral, the common name petrel is presumably derived from the biblical account of St. Peter's attempt to walk on water (also nicknamed "little Peter" or "Jesus bird").
Wilson’s Storm-Petrels feed almost exclusively in this manner and they are rarely seen settling on the water, but they are capable of occasionally diving deeper for food. During feeding the feet are often totally submerged to serve as parachutes and the storm-petrels appear to orientate themselves in the same general direction, probably to face into the ambient wind. The analysis of the flight behaviour of Wilson's Storm-Petrel indicates that its 'hovering' is an energetically inexpensive foraging strategy which is probably available only to small, surface-feeding birds with low wingloading (Withers 1979). Details of this aerodynamic and hydrodynamic study can be found here: Aerodynamics of the 'hovering' flight of Wilson’s Storm-Petrel.

Plate 17: Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus, off Lagos, Portugal, August/September 1998 (© Axel Halley).

Plate 18: Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus, off Lagos, Portugal, August/September 1998 (© Stefan Pfützke).

Plate 19: European Storm-Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus (left) and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus, off Lagos, Portugal, August/September 1998 (© Stefan Pfützke). Note the long dangling legs, pale upper wing-bar and large white rump extending onto the lateral undertail-coverts.

11:30 The storm-petrels keep to the floating bait as the boat drifts very slowly to the NW, so by now they are already a bit further away, but four Wilson’s and two European Storm-Petrels are still around, another Gannet is passing by.

Plate 20: Feeding Wilson’s Storm-Petrels Oceanites oceanicus, off Lagos, Portugal, August/September 1998 (© Axel Halley).

Plate 21: Feeding European Storm-Petrels Hydrobates pelagicus, off Portimao, Portugal, 26th September 2006 (© Jan Goedelt).

Plate 22: Feeding European Storm-Petrels Hydrobates pelagicus, off Lagos, Portugal, August/September 1998 (© Stefan Pfützke).

11:45 One more European Storm-Petrel, two more Wilson’s and another Cory’s Shearwater flying by, the latter ignoring the chum.

11:55 Single Cory’s, Wilson’s and European Storm Petrels still around.

11:58 One Cory’s.

12:00 Another Wilson’s is coming in from the west.

12:10 Two Wilson’s and two European Storm-Petrels are circling around the boat very closely again.

Plate 23: European Storm-Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus, left: off Lagos, Portugal, August/September 1998 (© Axel Halley), right: off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA, 30th May 2005 (© George L. Armistead).

George L. Armistead’s Seabirds
2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
European Storm-Petrel map
Photos: Martin Lofgren’s Wild Bird Gallery
General Information Hydrobatidae

12:28 Three Gannets.

12:33 Again, the odd Cory’s is showing up.

12:37 Another count produces five Wilson’s and one European Storm-Petrel.

12:39 One Cory’s, one Gannet and single storm-petrels flying in from W to NW.

12:50 Second chumming session, new bait to attract sharks and one Wilson’s.

12:52 One European Storm-Petrel.

12:53 One Common Tern.

12:55 One Wilson’s and two European Storm-Petrels are feeding directly around the boat.

12:58 One more European Storm-Petrel.

13:01 Another European Storm-Petrel.

13:04 One more Wilson’s.

13:08 There are again nine birds (both species) close to the boat.

13:14 As previously, the storm-petrels keep to the "feeding place" as the boat is still slowly drifting to the NW, so again the birds are already 200-300m further away and just shoot past the boat without walking on the surface.

13:28 Single Wilson’s are still circling around the boat, one of them repeatedly and always down to 5 m.

13:40 Third chumming session, new bait is put in the net hanging down the ship’s side.

13:45 Nine Wilson’s and one European Storm-Petrel are feeding close to the boat for several minutes.

13:53 One Cory’s, five Balearic and one more Wilson’s are flying in from the west.

14:00 A Balearic is diving only a few metres from the boat.

Plate 24: Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus, off Lagos, Portugal, 18th September 2004 (© Lars B. Eriksson).
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus is globally threatened and has recently been uplisted to Critically Endangered because of the severity of a continuing decline (for details see BirdLife Species Factsheet ). The species is in fact considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. It has a tiny breeding range confined to the Balearic Islands, Spain and a small population that is undergoing an extremely rapid decline due to a number of threats, in particular predation at breeding colonies by introduced cats, and by-catch of foraging birds in long-line fisheries. Population models predict a decline of 98% within 54 years (three generations).

Extinction risk in Balearic Shearwater
Importance of fisheries discards for Balearic Shearwater
Photos: Mediterranean and Balearic Shearwaters

Plate 25: Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus, off Lagos, Portugal, 18th September 2004 (© Lars B. Eriksson).

14:03 Still nine Wilson’s and one European Storm-Petrel around the boat (29° C/40° C in the sun).

14:21 One Gannet.

14:31 One Cory’s.

14:35 One Wilson’s, one European Storm-Petrel. The boat has by now drifted about 1.5-2 miles away from the original place where the engine was stopped, so our position is ca. 6 miles from the harbour.

14:54 Fourth chumming session, new bait produces three Wilson’s and two European Storm-Petrels.

15:05 Three Wilson’s and one European Storm Petrel.

15:12 One Gannet.

15:18 One Cory’s, one Balearic and one Gannet.

15:30 One European Storm-Petrel.

15:34 One Great Skua, two Cory’s.

15:36 Two Wilson’s.

15:38 One more European Storm-Petrel.


15:45 The engine is started and we begin to make our way back. After a few minutes another Balearic Shearwater provides good views and the occasional Gannet is hard to miss. A distant, unidentified storm-petrel is too far away to merit further attention.

16:02 We are still 4.2 miles from the harbour, one Wilson’s, one Cory’s and a group of four Gannets pass by.

16:03-05 Four Wilson’s, 3.6 miles from the harbour.

16:09 Two Wilson’s and yet another Balearic Shearwater, 3.3 miles from the harbour.

16:12 Four Wilson’s and one European Storm-Petrel.

16:19-21 Two Wilson’s are still following the boat, 2 miles off the harbour.

16:23-31 Our final Cory’s and another Gannet are passing by.

16:40 We pass the harbour entrance. Two Mediterranean Gulls in the harbour are worth mentioning.

16:58 The boat is tied up alongside the pier.

Sharks on dramatic decline

Shark fisheries have expanded dramatically in size and number around the world since the mid-1980s, primarily in response to the rapidly increasing demand for shark fins, meat and cartilage. Despite the boom-and-bust nature of virtually all shark fisheries over the past century, most shark fisheries today still lack monitoring or management.

Some sharks have natural growth rates of only 1-2% per year. Every year, 100 million sharks and related species are caught in fisheries. Some species have been reduced by more than 80% over recent years, and some may become extinct before long. In 2000, FAO reports put total catches of shark at 828,364 tons. This was 20% more than in 1990. Indonesia had the largest recorded shark catch in 2000 at 111,973 ton. Spain had the second largest recorded shark catch total at 77,269 ton (FAO Fishstat). The FAO estimates that in 1997 world production of shark fins was 6 million kg. Hong Kong handles 50-80% of the world trade in shark fins.

For further information:
Status and Conservation of Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea
Sharks at Risk - EU Policies Threaten Species Globally

Wilson’s Pelagics off western Europe

Plate 26: Approximate wintering range of Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus off Western Europe (Photo: © Axel Halley, Portugal 1998).

1. Algarve

Pelagic trips for groups of birders
As there is limited space for only two spectators (birdwatchers) on the Big Game Fishing boat trips (if the space for anglers is fully booked) groups of birders have other options.
Simon Wates algarvebirdman commented:
"I have organised in the order of 8 pelagic trips for SPEA but do not so any longer, always sailing south from Sagres since 2000 in the months of August to October. We have never not seen Wilson's Storm-Petrel and usually see between 20 and 40 individuals - sometimes a little more. We always went on the Estrela do Rio run by the company Bom Dia , which is based in Sagres and can take up to 55 passengers. They are familiar with chumming and will do this within their very reasonable prices. Recently a company called Mar Ilimitado has started to work from Sagres. They are excellent biologists and although they are specialists in Cetaceans (having worked with cetaceans in the Azores) I can recommend them highly as they try hard with birdlife too. Mar Ilimitado I think seats 12."
For further information about the annual SPEA pelagic trip off Sagres contact SPEA

Algarve General Tourist Information:
Vilamoura: Sport fishing trips
Weather history Sagres

Boat trips off southern Spain (e.g. Ayamonte)
According to Klaus Ellwanger (in litt.) activities for tourists include fishing trips which can be joined by "visitantes". No further information was available and it is obviously difficult to find out more about “pelagics“ off Ayamonte/southern Spain. Activities for tourists are offered e.g. at the Hotel RIU Atlantico in Ayamonte hotel.atlantico@riu.com. It might be useful to inquiry directly at the Marina Ayamonte or Marina de Isla Cristina.

2. Peniche

Cruises to Berlengas

Table 1: Wilson’s Storm-Petrels Oceanites oceanicus seen on pelagic trips off mainland Portugal. Totals present the approximate minimum counts for each trip.

¹ Seabird observations off Senegal revealed a strong northward passage of Wilson’s Storm-Petrel in spring off the African west coast with 1,259 passing north on four days, the maximum being 615 on 25th April 1992 (all records at sea). Wilson’s Storm-Petrel is the most numerous of the small storm-petrels passing off the Senegalese coast, both in spring and autumn. So it does not come as a real surprise that Wilson's Storm-Petrels occur off Portugal (probably regularly?) from May onwards.

Seabirds off Senegal, West Africa
Seawatching in Senegal

1 > Martin Lofgren’s Wild Bird Gallery: Madeiran Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma castro
2 > Maptech
3 > GISWiki/Google

3. Galicia

Pelagic trips off Galicia are privately organised in August and September for about 30.- Euro. Wilson‘s Storm-Petrel and Sabine‘s Gull should be guaranteed and the number of Wilson’s can be spectacular, e.g. on 24th July 2001 more than 300 birds were 8 miles W off Sisargas Islands, Pontevedra. For further sightings search Rare Birds in Spain. See also Table 1 for large numbers of Wilson’s Storm-Petrels recorded along the Iberian west coast off Porto and Lisbon in August. However, the trips off northern Galicia are highly weather dependent and may be cancelled in the morning (Tito Salvadores in litt.).

For boat trips from Estaca de Bares between July and October contact:
Sociedade Galega de Ornitoloxía,

For private boat trips from other places and also for trips organised by other associations, you can contact Cosme Damián Romai Cousido,

See also:
Grupo Ibérico de Aves Marinas (GIAM)
Galicia: Antonio Sandoval,

4. Bay of Biscay

Birds of the English Channel & Bay of Biscay
Wildlife observations from the Plymouth to Santander Ferry
Bay of Biscay Cruise 13th - 16th August 2006 with The Biscay Dolphin Research Programme

5. Isles of Scilly

Boat trips out into the western approaches have been running since the early 1980’s. But in 1997 Wilson's Storm-Petrel was discovered in Scilly waters. Until this discovery, it was considered to be a great rarity in UK waters, seen only on pelagics run from Penzance into the southern approaches 60 miles south-west of Scilly, or by a few lucky land-based seawatchers in autumn gales. As the Scillonian III, which headed out to the west for one day every August, is no longer available for pelagic trips the Scilly pelagics have become a new attraction for birders and photographers. Wilson’s Storm-Petrel occurs quite close to the islands and in August the maximum number of birds on any one trip was two, with the success rate on average being every other trip. On a good number of occasions Wilson's Storm-Petrel came to within three metres of the boat. Also Great Shearwaters sometimes land on the sea adjacent to the boat. This has led to an upsurge in interest in Scilly pelagics and regular pelagic trips for birders.

Plate 27: Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus, off Isles of Scilly, England, right: 13th July 2004 (© Bryan Thomas) and left: 13th–15th July 2003 (© George Reszeter), George Reszeter’s Birdphotography.

It is now becoming increasingly apparent that Wilson's Storm-Petrel is not a particularly rare bird off the southwest coast of England. In 2001 the BBRC published 18 records from around the Isles of Scilly, there were 29 in 2000, and in 2002 there are 40 records from this area. In 2006 the Scilly pelagics brought a total of staggering 66 Wilson’s Storm-Petrels seen between 11th June and 30th August. For a detailed analysis of the occurrence of Wilson’s Storm-Petrel in Scillonian waters mainly in July and August see Flood (2003) and Flood & Fisher (2005). Elsewhere, Wilson's Storm-Petrel remains a major rarity. The bird seen from a boat off Northumberland represents the first record from the North Sea, in an area, which rarely provides many surprises on pelagic trips.
So this species is rapidly approaching the point where it is no longer a rarity (more than 100 were recorded in 1988). Previous records would suggest that this is an August speciality, but, with a group of persistent observers looking for, finding and documenting the species from June onwards, it is clear that it has a much longer summer season in the southwest.

Compiled from:
Surfbirds.com Pelagic Directory
Report on Rare birds in Great Britain in 2000
Report on Rare birds in Great Britain in 2002
Isles of Scilly Bird Group 2006 Sightings

Additional reading:
When to see more sought after seabirds
2000 (1) Scillonian Pelagic
2000 (2) Scillonian Pelagic
1999 Scillonian Pelagic

6. Ireland

“Pelagic trips off all parts of the west coast of Ireland have, over the last 15 years, produced erratic sightings of Wilson’s Storm-petrel. Numbers are small (maximum nine) and the species appears to be absent in some years. Land-based sightings are rare but increasing ... August is the best time” (McGeehan 2001).

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus in action:
animated GIF 1 (785 KB), animated GIF 2 (526 KB), 7km W of Inishtearaght, Co. Kerry, Ireland, 8th August 2006 (© Michael O'Keeffe, ).
animated GIF 3 (204 KB), 10km WSW of Inishtearaght, Co.Kerry, Ireland, 10th August 2005 (© Michael O'Keeffe).
More photos at BirdsIreland.com

Pelagic trips off the Irish west coast are organised by Edward Carty ( ) who commented as follows:
“We start from Dingle usually leaving the pier at 0800hrs and return back to the pier at 1600 hrs. The skipper and boat are very good and I have been using this for the past 4 years. The majority of my trips are in August and I usually organise just one trip every year usually around 7th - 10th. The cost at the moment is 50.- Euro per person and the maximum is 10 persons on the boat. I usually fill it within 2-3 days of organising it. I start to gather oil and prepare chum in early June so that I have little to do in the days approaching the trip except watch the weather forecast and discuss plans with the skipper. Ideally I think a gentle NE and overcast conditions would be the best but I have never had this weather. Usually it is local birders from County Kerry who go on the pelagic but several have travelled from all over the country to join me. I welcome all interested birders but dread when the trip is cancelled at the last minute especially for people who may have travelled long distances. Wilson’s Storm-Petrel is NOT guaranteed but over the past 8 years we have seen about 13 and only 2003 was poor when we didn't get out on any boat due to bad weather on the dates selected. But I have had also one or two trips where we have seen NO Wilson’s at all!”
Perhaps the best spot in Ireland for land-based seawatchers to find a Wilson’s Storm-Petrel is Bridges of Ross.
Alternatively weekly trips during the summer to the Fastnet Rock 7 km SW of Cape Clear are run by Ciaran O’Driscoll (+353-2839153), who will also take birdwatching charter trips to the seas just south of Cape Clear, some of which have produced Wilson’s Storm-Petrels as well as Great and Cory’s Shearwaters and Sabine’s Gulls over the last few years (McGeehan 2001).
2003 Ireland: Pelagic magic
Sightings from British research ships, Scotland-SW Ireland-Southampton-Southern Iberian margin

Table 2: Species lists of selected pelagic trips at different locations between Ireland and Portugal. The more common species such as Fulmar, Gannet, Gulls etc. are left out:

1 > Photos: Greater Shearwater Puffinus gravis
PBase Galleries: Glen Tepke
PBase Galleries: Simon Tan
2 > Photos: Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus
PBase Galleries: Glen Tepke
PBase Galleries: Jeff Poklen
3 > Photos: Fea’s Petrel Pterodroma feae
Birding Madeira

31.07.2006 S´06: off the Isles of Scilly, for further sightings during pelagics in 2006 see 2006 Isles of Scilly Bird Group
09.08.2005 I´05: 10-12 km off Irish west coast 52°04’N 10°39’ W (Edward Carty pers. comm.)
06.08.2002, 8-10 km offshore, fog, mist, drizzle, variable westerly wind, 0630-1330hrs: Wilson’s Storm-Petrel 4, Sooty Shearwater 2, Great Skua 1.
08.08.2006, 10-12 km offshore, dull, overcast, NW 2-3, 0800-1600 hrs: Wilson’s Storm-Petrel 1 (52°00’ N 10°48’ W), European Storm-Petrel 40+, Great Shearwater 2, Sooty Shearwater 8, Sabine’s Gull 1, Great Skua 2, Pomarine Skua 1, Arctic Skua 1.
12.08.2001 WT´01: Wilson’s Triangle/Western Approaches, for full account see 2001 Scillonian Pelagic
19.08.2006 S´06: off the Isles of Scilly, for full account see 2006 Sapphire Scilly Pelagic
26.08.1997 B´97: Bay of Biscay/English Channel, for details see Report Santander-Plymouth Ferry
31.08.1998 A´98: Algarve off Lagos (Axel Halley & Stefan Pfützke)
31.08.2006 A´06: Algarve off Portimao (Günther Ellwanger & Andreas Noeske)
01.09.1998 A´98: Algarve off Lagos (Axel Halley & Stefan Pfützke)
01.09.2001 A´01: Algarve off Sagres (Simon Wates pers. comm.)
04.09.1998 A´98: Algarve off Sagres (Axel Halley & Stefan Pfützke)
18.09.1999 A´99: Algarve off Sagres (Simon Wates pers. comm.)
18.09.2004 A´04: Algarve off Lagos, for full trip report see 2004 Southern Portugal
26.09.2006 A´06: Algarve off Portimao (Jan Goedelt pers. comm.)

Plate 28 + 29: Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus, Newcomb Bay, Antarctica, December 2001 (© Henry Banon), Henry’s Antarctica Photo Gallery.
With a total population of several million pairs Wilson’s Storm-Petrel is traditionally considered to be the most abundant seabird in the world reaching a density of e.g. 3.200 nests/hectare on South Georgia (HBW Vol.I, 1992). It breeds in Antarctica and on the subantarctic islands, but migrates far into the Northern Hemisphere, especially in the Atlantic.
Unless you are working on the Antarctic peninsula views of a Wilson’s Storm-Petrel in front of such a spectacular scenery captured by Henry Banon are possible only if you join an organized 'once in a lifetime' journey. For European birders southern South America is the ideal location to begin a voyage to Antarctica including visits of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Wilson’s Storm-Petrels are regular companions of these cruises and can be just about ubiquitous. But a tour of Antarctica will be a bit more expensive than a package holiday offer to Portugal. The classic 22 days adventure “Antarctica, The Falklands & South Georgia“ will cost from about 8,000.- EUR. But for the well-to-do birdwatcher there is also a 38 days “Far Side Semi-Circumnavigation“ available for up to 37,000.- EUR.
A short trip at a rerasonable price to either Portugal, England or Ireland especially in August will also guarantuee Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, with Portugal being the best choice regarding numbers, reliable weather and perhaps best value for money.


For information and support we would like to thank George L. Armistead, John Azzopardi, Henry Banon, Chris Batty, Julian Bell, Morten Bentzon Hansen, Richard Bonser, Edward Carty, Eric Dempsey, Jochen Dierschke, Michael Duckham, Gonçalo Elias, Günther Ellwanger, Klaus Ellwanger, Lars B. Eriksson, David Erterius, Graham Etherington, Pedro Geraldes, Jan Goedelt, Ricard Gutiérrez, Paul Hackett, Alan Hannington, Magnus Hellström, Erik Hirschfeld, Harry Hussey, Colin Key, Alexandre Leitão, Noel Linehan, Steve Lister, Martin Lofgren, Dave McAdams, Eckhard Möller, Dick Newell, Michael O'Clery, Michael O'Keeffe, Peter Petermann, Stefan Pfützke, Richard Porter, Cosme Damián Romai Cousido, George Reszeter, Staffan Rodebrand, Tito Salvadores, Mark Schwenke, Rainer Sottorf, Andrea Tarozzi, Glen Tepke, Bryan Thomas, Ray Tipper, César Vidal, Susana Vidal, Simon Wates and Nick Williams.


1.   Flood, B. 2003: Wilson's Petrels off the Isles of Scilly 2000-2002. Birding World 16: 210-218.
2.   Flood, B. & A. Fisher 2005: Wilson's Petrels off the Isles of Scilly: a five-year analysis, 2000-2004. Birding World 18: 247-249.
3.   Gardiner, A., 1999, Pelagic trips off Cape St. Vincent in 1996 and 1997. A Rocha Observatory Report for 1997: 22. Portimão, Portugal.
4.   McGeehan, A. 2001: Autumn seawatching in Ireland. Dutch Birding 23: 119-131.
5.   Mountain, V. 2002: Pelagic trip off Sagres on 25th September 2000. A Rocha Observatory Report for 2000 and 2001: 52-53. Portimão, Portugal. Download PDF-File
6.   Porter, R. & T. Marr 1992: Uncharted waters. Birdwatch 1: 32-33.

Special pelagic compilation with focus on Wilson’s Storm-Petrel

PBase Galleries: Glen Tepke
PBase Galleries: Simon Tan
Bill Schmoker’s Gallery
Teus Luijendijk’s Gallery
Wilson's Storm-Petrels off Cape Hatteras
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel in snow
Storm-petrels off N'Gor in October 2003
Cape Hatteras Pelagic
Seabirding Pelagic Trips
New England Seabirds

Axel Halley, Hamburg,
Andreas Noeske, Bremen,

Halley, A. & A. Noeske 2007: Travel Special Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus off Europe.