Seventy years ago today, an expedition on a Castle Harbour island made science history with a discovery that brought the Cahow back from presumed extinction.

David Wingate, who would spend much of the rest of his life bringing the Cahow back from the brink, was there that day, aged 15 and thankful it was the weekend so he did not have to be in school.

He was the youngest in a group of naturalists who were searching for the elusive seabird which had been presumed extinct for centuries.

Bermuda had swarmed with endemic Cahows before the arrival of man in the 1500s.

Invasive pigs landed in Bermuda to feed stranded seamen, followed by the arrival of the Sea Venture in 1609 that began continuous British settlement, all but wiped out what is now Bermuda’s national bird.

Dr Wingate, keen on nature and ornithology from childhood, was already convinced the Cahows had survived.

He said this week: “The species had been rediscovered from time to time, but people didn’t know what it was, or they only had a specimen.

“The significance of 1951 was we knew where they were nesting. There was something we could do about it – protect the birds.”

The young Wingate salvaged bones from caves in the Walsingham area of Hamilton Parish, identified as Cahows by the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo.

He recalled: “It indicated just how abundant they had once been.

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