Manx shear­wa­ter mi­gra­tion route

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Advertisem­ent Feature - TIM GUIL­FORD is Pro­fes­sor of An­i­mal Be­hav­iour at the Univer­sity of Ox­ford.

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.

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