The first week of the Peniche Seabird Count was very slow. The weather was dominated by a high-pressure system that produced weak Northern winds and morning fogs every day. Visibility was an issue in some periods. Excluding Yellow-legged gulls and Lesser black-backed gulls, only 10 species of seabirds were recorded.
The most abundant was Cory´s shearwater and Gannet. A quick analysis at the south and northbound numbers of this species reveals that most of the records are of birds moving and foraging around Peniche, so a lot of local birds. The highlight was the sighting of 2 Great shearwaters on the 3rd of August. and a Sooty on the 5th. With a drop-by-drop flow of birds, I took my time to study and appreciate the Balearic shearwaters (75 recorded), a good portion of the birds was in heavy moult of external primaries (P7-P6), also moulting body feathers and coverts. Giving some of the birds a weird pale front looking and spotted pale around the neck. The Cory´s were also a delight to see, and I did carefully check every wingtip looking for pale infusions in the primaries, that could possibly reveal a Scopoli´s amongst them - no luck!
Below there is a short film of Cory´s flying in light head winds.
In 2015, Johan Elmberg, Erik Hirshfeld, and I managed to put together a project of counting seabirds on migration off Peniche (West Portugal) for 3 months - the Peniche Seabird Count. With the help of a group of committed volunteers and sponsors, we managed to tally over 300.000 seabirds, from August 15th to November 15th. When we finished, migration was still going strong. Because time is short, and we have several other projects in hands (apart from jobs ), we struggled to organize it again. So we've decided to analyze data before proceeding with another count. I´m happy to announce that there will be a major article published soon with the data from 2015.
With my time in autumn filled with guiding in Portugal and Spain, it has been difficult to continue counting during the last four years. This year, due to the pandemic and restrictions on traveling, I considered the possibility of going to Peniche to count seabirds again. With an evergrowing family, I just can´t do it daily, but I can commit to do it every other day, meaning a sample of 7 days in every fortnight. I will be counting during 3-3,5hours after sunrise. This year I will start on August 1st and I will try to do it for 3 months. There was no time, or support, to organize a volunteer-based project, like in 2015, so I will be doing it on my own. But, if anyone wants to show up and help in the counts, I´m always happy to get some company.
From the exciting continuous stream of birds to the slow easterly days (on which I have time to check the moult on Cory´s), seawatching is one of my favorite activities, and I am looking forward to start. I will keep everyone posted through the blog and Facebook page.
Below are some photos from 2015:
Birding Portugal & Spain - Blog
2020 Count Totals:
I was born in west Portugal and began birding at the age of 11. I have particular interest in bird ringing (banding), moult, seabirds and rarities. Currently I work as a guide for Birds & Nature Tours.
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