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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : European Storm-petrel

Hebrides bird sightings -  European Storm-petrel

European Storm-petrel

(Storm Petrel, Storm-petrel, Little Peter, Mootie, Ala Mootie, Alamotti, Stormies, Stormy, Mother Mary's Chicken, Mother Cary's Chicken)

Hydrobates pelagicus

Gaelic: Annlag, Paraig, Luaireag

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


Our Petrel photographs

European Storm-petrel
European Storm-petrel
European Storm-petrel
European Storm-petrel
Leach's Storm Petrel


  • European Storm-petrel
  • Hydrobates pelagicus
  • Gaelic: Annlag, Paraig, Luaireag
  • UK: Migrant Breeder
  • UK: AMBER LIST, 27,000 pairs (Summer) BTO
  • WI: (Possibly) Abundant breeder (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 to seas off South Africa
  • 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)
  • Smallest seabird. (sparrow-sized) . All black, white rump, tail square-tipped or rounded, NOT forked, white rump patch reaches far down the side (Leach's only part-way down) , broad white band on underwing (Leachs' none)
  • Listen to a Storm petrel RSPB site ( trills & purrs, famously described by Charles Oldham as "like a fairy being sick")
  • Similar birds: Leach's Storm Petrel, (forked tails), House Martin


Recorded living up to 31 years old!

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 gales in the UK in November 1952.


European Storm-petrels records in the Western Isles

(Possibly) Abundant breeder (10,000+ breeding pairs)
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)

On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the European Storm-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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