Antarctica wildlife – Wilson’s Storm Petrel

When traveling Antarctica one of the most impressive sights is the abundance of bird life. One would think that Antarctica would be a baron ice desert, however that could not be further from the truth. The diversity and adaptability of the wildlife in Antarctica and Sub-Antarctica is truly quite amazing.

Traveling to Antarctica is without doubt the best way to experience the truly magnificent wildlife and see it first hand, it is a photographers haven.


The Antarctic Wilson’s Storm Petrel.

Wilsons Storm Petrel side profile

Wilson's Storm Petrel resting on a rock outcrop in Antarctica

Sooty brown, but with a conspicuous white rump and a square tail, Wilson’s storm petrel has wings the same sooty brown but with a narrow band of grey across the greater coverts (inside the primaries) A”sea going martin” it flies like a butterfly with shallow, fast wingbeats (this makes it extremely difficult to photograph in flight).
In feeding, the bird skips, walks and patters over the surface, sometimes stopping for a moment with wings raised high and legs dangling, sometimes actually going backwards.
Solitary yet gregarious, Wilsons storm petrels are often alone, often in flocks of hundreds. Feeding flocks may be in huge numbers, usually over the shallow water of the continental shelf, and millions forage around the pack ice. They are opportunistic feeders, and enthusiastic ship and whale followers, but krill is an important item of their diet.
Circumpolar, wide spread and abundant, this is the most commonly recorded storm petrel in Antarctic waters and possibly the most numerous sea bird in the world (though most people will never see one).
Storm petrels venture ashore only to breed, they arrive at the breeding grounds in November or December, nesting on rocky islets, cliffs, boulder skree and ice free areas above beaches.
Wison’s storm petrels are named after the Scottish/American ornithologist of the early 19th century – Alexander Wilson.
Legnth: 15 – 19 cm, Wingspan: 38 – 42 cm
(info from: Tony Soper, Antarctica-a guide to the wildlife)

wilson's storm petrels in flight from different angles in antarctica

Wilson's Storm Petrels in flight in Antarctica


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