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Holy Cahow...once 'extinct' bird spotted off Ireland 22.05.14

by Linda McGrory

ONE of the world's rarest birds – once thought extinct for over 300 years - has been spotted off the coast of Ireland.
The Bermuda petrel, better known as the Cahow, was seen by crew members of the Celtic Voyager – the Irish Marine Institute's research vessel.
The "astonishing" sighting of the endangered seabird took place off the coast of Co Kerry on Monday.
Within hours news of the sighting had reached Bermuda and was confirmed by the island's official bird conservation group, the Bermuda Audobon Society.
The society confirmed the report through data emitted by the bird's electronic geolocator.
The medium-sized Cahow is the national bird of Bermuda and once featured on the island's original one and ten dollar bills.
It is currently being "laboriously brought back from the brink" by conservationists with only about 180 of the species known to exist.
 The Bermuda petrel, better known as the Cahow.
A slow-breeding ground-nester, the bird was wiped out during the 1600s when colonisation of the North Atlantic island introduced species such as boars, cats, dogs and rats.
It is thought the Cahow, which mates for life, had become virtually extinct by the 1620s until intrepid ornithologists discovered 18 surviving pairs nesting on the island in 1951. The dramatic discovery led to the appointment of Bermuda's first conservation officer.
The RV Celtic Voyager crew including Niall Keogh and Ryan Wilson-Parr, spotted the bird as they undertook a survey of cetaceans and seabirds some 170 nautical miles north west of Slea Head, Co Kerry.
They filed a report with the Irish Birding website which noted: "It was on view for a maximum of one minute before heading off in a south east direction."
BirdWatch Ireland development officer Niall Hatch described the sighting as "astonishing" and "the bird of a lifetime". He said it was the first official sighting of the bird in Irish waters.
"This is a species that had been thought extinct for over 300 years until its dramatic rediscovery in 1951 and since then it has been the subject of a remarkably successful
conservation project," said Mr Hatch.
“I believe that one was electronically tracked far offshore a few years ago but it wasn’t actually seen by anyone and so isn’t on the Irish list.”
The Bermuda petrel, better known as the Cahow.
The rare Irish sighting was confirmed in a Facebook post by the Bermuda Audubon Society. The charity told its followers: "Cahow spotted off Ireland (Monday)! Proof of data received from geolocators attached to a number of Cahows."
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