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Conservation status: Amber

A little bigger than a sparrow it appears all black with a white rump. Its tail is not forked, unlike Leach's petrel. In flight it flutters over the water, feeding with its wings held up in a 'V' with feet pattering across the waves. At sea it often feeds in flocks and will follow in the wake of ships, especially trawlers.



Latin name

Hydrobates pelagicus


Petrels and shearwaters (Hydrobatidae)

Where to see them

Breeds largely on islands on the west coast of the UK, and on the Northern Isles. Only comes to shore to breed, and then at night. Best looked for by seawatching in spring and autumn from a westerly headland with onshore gales.

When to see them

Present at and around the breeding colonies from May to September. Migrants best looked for in September and October as they journey south to waters off South Africa.

What they eat

Fish, plankton and crustaceans


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-25,650 pairs--




Dougie Preston, Xeno-canto