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Yelkouan Shearwater - Middelhavslire - Puffinus yelkouan

Levantines lira - Medelhavslira - Vale pijlstormvogel - Puffin yelkouan

A flock of yelkouan Shearwater pass through the sea of Marmora
Black Sea, 06 March 2010

My experience has shown that shearwaters can be hard to see offshore in the Mediterranean, often it is only occasional birds that are seen. The Bosporus and the sea of Marmora is a different story. In March 2010 I witnessed thousands of these birds passing in both directions through the sea of Marmora - presumably travelling between the Black Sea and the eastern Mediterranean.  Fantastic - must be among my "Top ten" birding experiences"!

Yelkouan Shearwaters pass fisherman
Oh to be in this boat!

The flocks seemed to keep halfway between any larger vessels but readily passed small fishing boats at close range - a good tip for anyone looking to photograph these wonderful birds.

Yelkouan Shearwaters
Yelkouan Shearwaters

Yelkouan Sjearwaters pass close to shore
Yelkouan Shearwaters pass close to shore

Yelkouan Shearwaters seem to avoid larger vessels where possible
Yelkouan Shearwaters seem to avoid larger vessels where possible


Yelkouan Shearwaters

Identification under these conditions were straightforward. The "flappy" flight and flock formation struck me immediately - some I later read in Martin Garner's "Frontiers in Birding". The projecting feet were not much use - the birds would have to be very close indeed to see this feature.

Many birds showed the whitish curve up behind the ear but not so pronounced as on Manx. Some even give an almost "capped" impression owing to the smudgy neck markings.

Pictures of Balearic Shearwater can be found on this page.

Yelkouan Shearwaters
Another view in different light - showing the brownish look under these conditions

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