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Sunday, September 18, 2016

UK's only inland records of Cory's Shearwater

Cory's Shearwater inland in the UK

We, Dave and I were absolutely gobsmacked and still cannot quite believe that we watched a very relaxed Cory's pass over Regent's Park last Thursday 15th Sept. This morning we were trying to workout roughly how high this bird was and finally agreed on about 400ft. This is the height that the majority of gulls passing over the park seemed to fly at. Over the years we have seen some great birds on the line Thursday's bird was flying on. It's produced the majority of Osprey sightings in the autumn, Black Kite, Red Kite, Honey Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and Knot. The line links the Lea Valley around Walthamstow to the large reservoirs in south-west London.



As much as we wanted the bird to be seen by other London birders, for that to have happened the bird would have had to come down on one of these water-bodies.  This is what happened to the only other record of an inland Cory's Shearwater in the UK, on 2nd October 1971 at Chasewater. 

We thought it would be an idea to contact that lucky birder, Rob Hume. He informed us that the weather that day and before was similar to last Thursday's in being warm and sunny, not the kind of weather a large powerful shearwater would be blown inland by. In Rob's case the bird was sitting on a gravel spit and by the sounds of it may have been down for more than a day as it wasn't in the best condition. Another similarity to the bird Dave spotted, was that there happened to be only one other birder nearby. Dave phoned me ( modern day), where as Rob waved  Graham Evan's over. He then borrowed Grahams bike and nipped home to pick up the family camera, taking a few snaps (see below). They then arranged for someone to drive out with a box, so Rob could take it home and feed it. The bird did flap it's wings a bit  but as we know shearwater's aren't that good on their feet. Rob was due back at Swansea University in a couple of days so cared for the bird until he was driven back to Wales. There he tried to release the bird but it clearly wasn't strong enough and died in the waves. A sad end to a great encounter. 




Photos courtesy of Rob Hume



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