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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Leach's Storm-petrel

Hebrides bird sightings -  Leach's Storm-petrel

Leach's Storm-petrel

(Leach's Petrel, Leach's Fork-tailed Storm Petrel, British Storm Petrel, British Storm-Petrel, European Storm Petrel, European Storm-Petrel, European Stormpetrel, Mother Carey's Chicken, Storm Petrel, Storm-Petrel, Stormy Petrel)

Oceanodroma leucorhoa

Gobhan mara


Photography © Terry Fountain
St Kilda - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
12th July, 2007

Our Petrel photographs

Storm Petrel
Leach's Storm Petrel


  • Leach's Storm-petrel
  • Oceanodroma leucorhoa
  • UK: AMBER LIST, 51,000 pairs (summer) BTO
  • WI: Common migrant breeder (1000 -10,000 breeding pairs)
  • See from Westerly seawatching places when a gale blows to shore
  • Breeds: Islands: UK (Western & Northern Isles) & North & West of Europe. Forms colonies. (UK May - September). (Nests: crevices & burrows, holes in stone walls. Visits the nest at night)
  • Winters: Leaves September - October, British & Irish birds go to tropics (some stay in North Atlantic)
  • Feeds in flocks: planktonic crustaceans & small fish (picked from surface - hovering: wings up in V shape, flutttering & bat-like) Follows ships (comes ashore only to feed at NIGHT)
  • Starling sized seabird.. All black below, mostly black above, (upperwing pale band of mid-feathers), (underwing no white band) V-shaped white rump patch only reaches partway down the side, with centre dark line (storm petrel's go far down), Forked tail.
  • Listen to a Leach's Storm-petrel ( RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Storm Petrel (NOT forked tail),


Gaelic name "Gobhan mara " means swallow of the sea

Great Skuas eat storm petrels. They live alongside where the petrels are breeding where they have a plentiful food supply. Rats and feral cats can also be a major problem for breeding birds

As with other seabirds, strong gales can sometimes blow many birds to shore, they are known as 'wrecks'. Nearly 7000 storm petrels were blown ashore in the UK in gales in November 1952.

The oldest recorded Leach's Storm-petrel was almost 30 years old.


Leach's Petrel records in the Western Isles

A common migrant breeder in the Western Isles (1000 -10,000 breeding pairs).
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)


There are colonies of Leach's Storm-petrel on the Islands of St Kilda, Sula Sgeir, North Rona and also the Flannan Isles.

On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Leach's Petrel is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.

























(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)



Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section

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