Where have all the Balearics gone!

Earlier this year I wrote quite a 'large note' in British Birds, showing 10-years' analysis from counting passing Balearic Shearwaters through West Lyme Bay (WLB is basically the bit between Berry Head and Start Point). I'm a bit of sad-do - when others are out doing other things I'm starring at the sea hoping I might see this critically endangered tubenose fly by and strangely I get a kick out of seeing this bird. The crux of the note was WLB had been very good in three out of the last five years, with Devon passage records tumbling in 2015.

Well this year its back to normal! Yes, its not been an exceptional year for the best conditions, but even when we had them, the birds just weren't there in numbers. Portland had a 'spike' that looked promising but it just didn't materialise further down our way. Last year during a watch on 26/08/15 I had the amazing spectacle of 528 passing in just 4.5hrs. This year I didn't hit triple figures once, with a best of 63 in 8hrs on 24/08/16. As we're now through the WLB passage peak I did a quick tot up and saw just 298 in 109hrs!

So how does that compare? If we look at birds per hour, which takes into account effort we're back to the norm, before those exceptional years of  2011, 2013 and 2015! Lets see what 2017 brings?

 And another sad-do stat, I thought I'd crack seeing 10,000 Balearics in Devon this year and I'm at 9981!! Sometimes November is OK but I don't think so this year.


  1. Hello mate, love your blog. Does Balearic no 10000 get to wear a sash and get a years supply of chum !

  2. Hi Perry, I was thinking more along the line of some 'bubbly' and anchovies!