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Manx Shearwater (rspb-images.com)

The Manx shearwater has an appropriate second name. It can glide at speed very close to the sea, its scythe-like wings almost cutting the surface.

What to look for

Manx shearwater colonies are few and far between in Scotland. But the birds can travel huge distances in search of food. So be alert on any seagoing boat trip for the distinctive dark upperparts, pale undercarriage and curving wings. Near large colonies, huge numbers gather on the water at evening before going ashore after dark.

Interesting facts

Manxies have a good sense of smell. This may help them to locate food, such as fish and small squid. It can also help them to locate their home burrow (though calls from their mate are a major positioning aid).

When and where to see

Shearwaters leave Scottish waters by the end of October and spend the winter in the southern hemisphere before returning in spring.

Hotspots

Around the Small Isles (major colony high in the hills of Rum), in the Minches, St Kilda, Fetlar and Machrihanish.

For more information see the RSPB's Manx Shearwater page.