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By-The-Wind Sailors

What's around? Share your latest wildlife and nature sightings.
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By-The-Wind Sailors

Post by Bruce » 29 Dec 2016, 23:29

Over the past couple of days there's been an enormous wreck of By-The-Wind Sailors, Velella velella on the beaches around Barra and Vatersay. We noticed a small influx here in early August, but that pales into insignificance compared to the numbers currently washing ashore. This afternoon we made a few sample counts on Vatersay South Beach and concluded that this one small stretch of beach contained something in the order of 250,000 specimens! Large numbers of fresh individuals were still washing ashore, while the strandline contained a mass of transparent remains, with countless others blown off the beach and across the machair. There must be millions around Barra and Vatersay right now.
Recent bird highlights have included a series of glaucous gulls during the stormy weather with about 6 individuals involved, plus wintering chiffchaff at Nasg and a brambling coming to our feeders at Brevig.
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Re: By-The-Wind Sailors

Post by chrisjohnson » 30 Dec 2016, 12:08

Hi Bruce
Not an infrequent occurrence on a small scale but the numbers you describe are astonishing. Thank you for posting.
As the co-ordinating editor of the new Hebridean Naturalists Journal, you may like to consider writing a short not for inclusion in the 2017 issue. We have finalise the 2016 issue and will be going to press in January. We would also be delighted to receive any records you have (other than birds) for the database.
Pushing my luck here: I am also the Chair of Curracag and we would love to welcome you as a member. Members receive the new Hebridean Naturalists Journal as part of their subscription and anyone joining now will receive the 2016 and 2017 issues.

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Re: By-The-Wind Sailors

Post by christinej » 05 Jan 2017, 10:00

Reports of large numbers of by-the-wind-sailors (Velella velella) washed-up on beaches on South uist (Ardivachar), North Uist (Baleshare) and Berneray. Also in Wester Ross and Orkney. If you are not familar with this species there are photographs on the Curracag and OHBR facebook pages ( and
This is a pelagic species which appears on our beaches in small numbers, mainly during the summer, but a large "wreck" is unusual. OHBR ( would appreciate your records of this species and anything else you might find.
Many thanks.


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