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Thread: possible Salvin's Albatross, off Wollongong 3/6/12

  1. #1
    Storm-Petrel Tobias Hayashi's Avatar
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    possible Salvin's Albatross, off Wollongong 3/6/12

    Hey everyone
    Here is an interesting bird from the replacement May Gong pelagic. Any opinions? No one else got photos of the bird.

    Cheers, Tobias

    Name:  possible Salvins Albatross, off Wollongong, NSW, June 2012sossaforum3resive.jpg
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  2. #2
    Hi Tobias,

    This mollymawk indeed looks interesting. The narrow leading edge to the wing indicates that it is a "Shy-type" Albatross and rules out all other grey-headed ID contenders (such as Buller's Albatross and obviously the Grey-headed/Campbell/Black-browed complex). The large amount of black in the underprimaries (although not 100% solid), the messy (but not too messy) dark leading edge to the underwing, the solid black ungues (not sure about the very tip) and the pale forehead make me think 2nd-cycle Salvin's (as opposed to a young Shy or White-capped). The forehead appears too pale and the bill bot yellowish enough to make it a young Chatham.
    So, I'd say 2nd-cycle Salvin's.
    It is a pity that the bird wasn't cooperative (I personally never got to see it) and that there aren't more photos. One can always be tricked by a single photo...

    Cheers,

    Nikolas

    P.S. There is a useful article by Steve Howell: Howell, S.N.G. (2009): Identification of immature Salvin’s, Chatham and Buller’s Albatrosses. Neotropical Birding 4: 19-25.

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    I agree Nikolas. I don't think it's a Buller's, the bill is the wrong colour, along with the underwing and the underwing is certainly to messy for a Shy/White-capped, leaving Salvin's as the most likely candidate.

    I didn't see it either, so it wasn't around for long.

    Below is a juvenile Buller's, showing the difference in the bill and underwing.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  4. #4
    Hi Brook,

    This is an interesting young Buller's Albatross you got there. The leading edge looks almost striped. At the end of Raja's Buller's Albatross folder there are a dozen or so pictures of three different young Buller's Albatross for comparison: http://www.adarman.com/Birds/Albatro...lers-Albatross

    Cheers,

    Nikolas

  5. #5
    Hi Tobias
    This image appears to be of the bird I initially called as young Buller's Albatross on the day. I still think that this a Buller's albatross in it's first year at sea and possibly fledged in September last year. The wing structure,to me appears too long and narrow to fit that of any of the shy types, as does the bill. This bird is clearly not as advanced in it's plumage development as is the one posted by Brooke and those images on Raja's site referred to by Nickolass. Images of Buller's Albatrosses of this age are few and far between. This is particularly so of birds encountered in NSW waters where until recently it was considered rare. There is indeed a great deal to learned

  6. #6
    Hi Lindsay,

    That is interesting. Does this mean that a very young Buller's starts off with a narrow leading edge, then develops a messy leading edge (as in Tobias's photo), then a stripey leading edge (as in Brook's photo) and finally a solid leading edge (as in Raja's photos of young Buller's)?

    Cheers,

    Nikolas

  7. #7
    Hi Nikolas
    That appears to be the case, the leading edge close to the body appears quite messy. If you look closely at Tobias's image you can see the ill defined broader margin of the fore wing. It would appear, that as the plumage wears the darker feathers are exposed to show a broadening margin. See Pages 107 and 111 in the Photographic Index of Australian Seabirds.
    To me it would appear that Brooks image is of a bird in it's second year. Alan McBride's image on page 107 is also in it's second year, Though clearly some months older.

    Cheers

    Lindsay

  8. #8
    Storm-Petrel Tobias Hayashi's Avatar
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    Really interesting discussion guys! To me the bird still looks most like a Shy-type but there are two things that go against that: 1 the bill does look long and thin and 2 I would have thought that it would have been relatively obvious given flight style/size to tell between the two during the field (and I didn't start thinking it was a shy-type until well after). To me though, shys always appear to have very long thin wings and in particular the hand of the wing, so that doesn't go against what this bird has in my opinion.
    It is quite amazing the lack of images of young Buller's. What also strikes me is that there seems to be a fair bit of variation within the birds. I found a fascinating discussion here: http://www.birdingnz.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=39 It is of course a different situation to here because they attempt to ID the bird on the basis of head/bill whereas here we don't have such detail photographs. Nonetheless, well worth a read, and it also has some fledgling photos of Buller's. It seems that Northern Bullers fledge in May-July and Southerns in August-October. It also seems that as young nestlings they have dark black bills but these are mostly paler by the time they fledge.
    Most of the photos I have seen of young Bullers, including those fledglings, had quite pale and often yellowish bills which does not really fit the bird above (although I agree there isn't a lot of detail in the photo). I would also suggest that the presence (at least partly) of the 'notch' near the junction of wing and body also suggests shy-type. However, this may occur in Buller's as well if, as Lindsay suggests, the broad margin of the wing develops with wear.
    Also interesting to note that the bird has a very dusky head which extends a lot further than normal on both shy and bullers (hood extends messily past the wing-nape junction and almost onto upper flanks). I have 2 or 3 more photos in the series but they show exactly the same thing, I might post another one anyway later.

    Cheers
    Tobias

  9. #9
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    This is all very interesting

    Below is the photo Lindsay is talking about, from page 111 of Terence Lindsay's The Seabirds of Australia

    Name:  Juvenile Bullers - The Seabirds of Australia 3.jpg
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  10. #10
    Storm-Petrel Tobias Hayashi's Avatar
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    Haha, I actually just went to the ANU library an hour ago to look up this image! Thanks for posting it anyway Brook The angle is not good in the photo to really judge underwing pattern but it still seems to me to be thicker than the Gong bird, importantly not only on the leading edge but also on the trailing edge. Presumably this bird has or is just about to fledge so is younger than the Gong bird.

  11. #11
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    Hi guys,

    Another 'interesting' young Albatross (how much trouble do young Grey-heads vs Black-browed types cause us?!?!). I have to say that the first thing to my eye looking at the image wasn't a Shy-type, purely by the proportions of the bill and the 'jizz' of the head (doesn't look "big and mean" enough for a Shy-type). Identifying from images is fraught with danger (Jaegers anyone!?) but Tobias' comment that he didn't think the bird looked obviously like a Shy-type to him on the day is potentially significant. I have no experience with juvenile Buller's so I think I will do some research! Sounds like you had great numbers of these guys on the day.

    Fingers crossed the seas allow The Argonaut to get out next Sunday!

    Mick

  12. #12
    Storm-Petrel Tobias Hayashi's Avatar
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    I don't know how much difference it makes but here is a second photo:

    Name:  sossa forum bullers salvins 2.jpg
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    Cheers
    Tobias

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