Great Shearwater

Yesterday’s adventure in pointless bird counting took Ingrid and I back out to sea to find Shearwaters. These long winged seabirds spend their entire lives on or over the world’s oceans except when they come to land to nest and raise their young.

Shearwaters are some of the world’s longest migrants . . . traveling thousands and thousands of miles in search of food.

For instance, the Great Shearwater (we saw at least 42 of them yesterday) breed during our winter on the volcanic island of Tristan da Cunha. Located in the southern Atlantic, Tristan da Cunha is the most remote human occupied island on the planet (1,700 miles from the Southern Tip of Africa and 2,500 miles from South America). Amazingly, these birds travel to the Gulf of Maine during our summer to feed.

We also saw a Sooty Shearwater (they breed on the Falkland Islands) and a Cory’s Shearwater (the Azores off Portugal).

Sooty Shearwater

These incredible birds are often called “Tubenoses” for a structure on their bills that gives them an amazing sense of smell. The name “Shearwater” refers to their propensity to fly very close to the water and seemingly cutting or “shearing” the top of the waves.

This trip brought my Maine Big Year Count to 290. Ingrid picked up four new birds and that brings her year count to 264 . . . if she beats me there will be some real difficulty in our happy home!!!

Cory’s Shearwater

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