Wild Harris

Manx Shearwater

Manx Shearwater 2 LCampbell.jpgManx Shearwater    (Photo: Laurie Campbell)

The manx shearwater is a secretive bird. It only comes in to land at night, and quickly disappears down its nesting burrow. Usually all you hear is its strange groaning and screaming sounds. People used to think that the noise came from trolls, as they could not see the bird that was making the noise and they only heard the sound at night. As a result a lot of the places that manx shearwaters breed are called names like Trollaval.

All manx shearwaters on Harris breed on St Kilda – although this may not have always been the case. Once rats have been introduced to an island, they quickly wipe out the shearwaters, so now they can only breed where there are no rats.

Manx Shearwater 1 LCampbell.jpgManx Shearwater    (Photo: Laurie Campbell)

The shearwaters fly out to sea to feed, and can be away from the nest for several days. They catch fish from the surface of the sea, and bring it back to the nest in their stomachs. The fish is regurgitated and fed to the chicks.

by Alison Tyler