Birdwatch: Leach’s petrel, a storm-driven visitor wrecked on our shore

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The sooty-black seabird should have been far out in the North Atlantic at this time of year

The wind had dropped a little, but still made my eyes water, and I was finding it hard to hold my binoculars steady. Gulls strained to stop themselves being blown backwards, while flocks of wigeon hunkered down on the river’s surface.

And then we caught sight of it. A sooty-black bird with a white rump, fluttering over the waves like an oversized house martin, occasionally dipping down to snatch a morsel of food. Nearby, ominously, huge herring gulls hassled this stranger in their midst.

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