Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus, adult flying low over the water of an evening, Isles of Scilly

Petrels and shearwaters

These are seabirds, related to albatrosses and sharing peculiar arrangement of nostrils, giving the alternative name, ‘tubenoses’. There are many small petrels, as well as larger species, and many other kinds of shearwaters worldwide.

They are strictly marine, many coming ashore to breed in burrows, then only under the cover of darkness, although one of the most widespread, the fulmar, nests on open ledges. None are properly able to walk on land. Petrels in the UK are small, oceanic birds, which fly low over the sea, except for the larger fulmar. Shearwaters are larger, long-winged, flying over vast areas of sea by using winds and air currents over the waves.