Articles Wind Chasers: counting Istanbul's Yelkouan Shearwaters


This page contains 4 reader comments. Click here to view (latest Wed 04/03/15 15:56).

It is one of the greatest and least-known urban wildlife spectacles in the world. For a few weeks every February, Yelkouan Shearwaters pour between the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, funnelling up the Bosphorus. The Bosphorus cleaves Istanbul in two — the dividing line between Europe and Asia — through one of the world's great cities.

NatureGuides recently intercepted the spectacle in the company of the Yelkouan Shearwater Project team.

Yelkouans, from the Turkish for 'wind chaser', used to be an almost mythical subspecies of Manx Shearwater, before being split with (and then from) Balearic Shearwater. Its status outside the eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea is poorly known. It has been claimed from Britain and Ireland but never accepted by any of the relevant rarity committees.

Its status is complicated by identification issues. Appearing somewhere between Manx and Balearic Shearwaters, the video shows some of the key features: the feet projecting beyond the tail tip and the dark axiliaries in a white underwing. It also shows the variations in colour due to light, shape due to angle, and their curious habit of lifting their heads.

Other than the identification obstacles, the conservation status of Yelkouan Shearwater is also difficult to determine because of their secretive lives. Turkey has great potential to host a breeding population, but the species' status in the country is still unclear. As well as monitoring migration at the Bosphorus, the Yelkouan Shearwater Project team is searching for colonies along the Turkish coast. Time and resources are therefore stretched. In order to keep both project activities alive they need volunteer support in the first week of February every year to help monitor the remarkable Bosphorus passage. To find out more, head to www.yelkouanshearwater.org.

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Yelkouan Shearwater Yelkouan Shearwater

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The information in this article was believed correct at the time of writing. BirdGuides accepts no responsibility for errors, or for any consequences of acting on information in the article. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily shared by BirdGuides Ltd.

hide section Reader comments (4)

They also were pouring through in early May, a few years ago. Best seen from the boats you take to get to the migration watchpoints.
   Matt Jordan, 23/02/15 22:25Report inappropriate post Report 
Stunning feature!
   Sean Nixon, 23/02/15 22:53Report inappropriate post Report 
I've watched them pour through in good numbers during the Easter Holidays. Just sit at a cafe or restaurant along the waterfront and watch them in great comfort
   Duncan Fraser, 27/02/15 18:00Report inappropriate post Report 
A delightful seabird in a peerless setting. The slow motion adhan was a new one on me too.
   Edward Hutchings, 04/03/15 15:56Report inappropriate post Report 

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