Leach's Storm-petrel at Eakring Flash October 5th 2003
Here is a most rewarding instance where regular coverage to any particular area/site eventually paid dividends for two regular visitors to the Eakring area. Robin Brace and Tony Wardell have both been helpful in providing many notable records for the area, but this particular record represents perhaps the most exciting of all the area's 171 species.

Sea-birds of any description are always much prized within inland counties such as Nottinghamshire. Considering also that for most of this particular sighting, it was a Leach's Storm-petrel flying over agricultural farmland - then this record proves to be quite extraordinary. It also reiterates that anything has the ability to turn up anywhere.

Initial sighting and Identification sections kindly written and provided by Robin Brace and Tony Wardell.

Initial sighting Robin Brace

The bird came in from the NE at 10:40am. Wind was moderate north-westerly with almost unbroken sunshine. It was already quite close when first observed and went directly over both observers at it's closest approach, with views to within 25-30m - and then headed towards the village. Was 'pestered' then by a corvid and descended close to the ground in the pastures area and was lost to view behind the hedge. It then re-appeared briefly over same hedge, but then lost behind trees and not seen again.

Identification Robin Brace and Tony Wardell

RB. The main features of the bird in question: an obvious Storm-petrel. Relatively long- (and pointed) winged, with buoyant flight; highly agile with sharp, rapid changes in direction. Obvious and clearly demarcated paler upper wing (covert) panel. Under-wing appeared uniform in colouration. White rump/upper tail coverts, but no indication/sign of central dark division (usually - in my experience - very difficult to see) Tail well spread at times as it receded from me. Clearly 'square-ended', but no impression of fork-shape gained. Overall impression very different from Storm-petrel, that is compact/relatively short- (and rounded) winged, with far less elegant flight manoeuvres.

TW. When I first picked it up it was head on and I clearly picked out a grey forehead and estimated a size bigger than a house martin. Both are consistent with Leach's Petrel. I too did not get the forked tail but to be honest I did not pay particular attention to that part of the bird.

Subsequent searching

Despite never actually seen to leave the area, Tony, Robin and myself conducted a search of nearby waters where the bird could have landed - although in flight, there was nothing to suggest that this was a tired individual. Searching began within 30 minutes of the bird's last sighting. The most likely site was adjacent to Bilsthorpe pit-top. I later conducted a search of the pastures area, where the bird had been harrassed by a Rook and almost came down. All searches unfortunately proved fruitless.

The occurrence of Leach's Storm-petrel represents a new species for the area.

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