Manx shearwater migration route
The average Manx shearwater southbound migration is about 35 days, and the northbound, 40 days. When the birds leave Skomer in the autumn, they head for the rich waters of the Patagonian shelf, and take pretty much the shortest, direct route to get there. It seems that there is an important stopover area off West Africa, south of the Cape Verde islands, and just north of the equator. In the northern spring, the shearwaters return to their breeding colonies in an arc through the Caribbean. During the spring migration, there are particular areas off the east coast of North America, and also in the centre of the North Atlantic, that seem to provide important foraging areas. It is likely that the birds exploit the favourable wind currents that circulate clockwise around the North Atlantic Gyre, which makes the route much longer for most of them. We think that the North Atlantic is important during the spring migration and throughout the breeding season when birds make long excursions out into the open ocean this way.