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Thread: 'Dark-hooded' Yellow-nosed Albatross off Port Stephens

  1. #1
    Storm-Petrel
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    'Dark-hooded' Yellow-nosed Albatross off Port Stephens

    Hi all,

    Attached (hopefully) are three images of an interesting Yellow-nosed Albatross we had off Port Stephens last Sunday (all I can see on my screen are thumbnails - I hope this works). This bird was noticed on the way out to the shelf (first two images) and then once more (assuming it is the same bird) once at the shelf (3rd image). It has an obvious 'hooded' appearance, which even shows in the direct light. It also has a somewhat darkish area in front of the eye. Lindsay has already commented that it has a much darker grey head and neck than any Indian YNA he has seen and that this bird could be an Atlantic. But we just can't be sure based on the images below (Jeff Davies has provided the same feedback). I've tried to gather more images from other shutterbugs on board but have drawn a blank thus far.

    If anyone would like to comment that would be great!

    Mick
    p.s. we also had an 'interesting' pale skua that I will post on a seperate thread.


    Name:  YNA Port Stephens Mick Roderick lr1.jpg
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  2. #2
    Hi Guys,

    Hmmm.... I could be wrong but this looks like a 3rd year Indian Yellow-nosed Albie to me.

    Sorry

  3. #3
    Storm-Petrel Tobias Hayashi's Avatar
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    Its a bit hard to really assess darkness of the hood in this light but I agree it looks darker than standard Indic YN. You don't have a front-on shot or do you?

  4. #4
    Hi Mick,


    The bird looks interesting. However, these three pictures unfortunately don't provide enough detail to ID this bird as an Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross. I don't think that anything speaks against a male Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (they often show darker heads - especially cheeks).

    To really ID an Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, I'd like to see

    (1) more detail of the hood (i.e. in even light, rather than partially in shade)
    (2) an even stronger upside-down triangle eye-patch
    (3) a photograph or a description of the shape of the yellow at the base of the culminicorn.
    I think none of these criteria alone would be diagnostic, but all three together might.


    Cheers,


    Nikolas

  5. #5
    Storm-Petrel
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    Hi guys,

    Nah, these are the only images I can find. On the day I remember alerting people's attention to the bird as it was very obvious but it was almost like having so many shearwaters around the boat with YNA's that it 'got away on us'. One person has commented that they got "a very strong impression that the dark patch in front of it's eye was considerably larger than in our normal Yellow-nosed Albatross".

    Inger...is that you??Can you explain how it is ID'd as a 3rd year Indian? Note that I'm not trying to turn it into an Atlantic! I just want to know the features to look for.

    Re: your 3 criteria Nikolas I would say that #1 was the strongest feature that had our attention drawn to this bird. #2 was not immediately evident (but see comment above) and #3 wasn't seen.

    Mick

  6. #6
    Hi Mick,

    interesting bird, I agree with Inger that its a not quite an adult bird, not sure if we can age it specifically as 3rd year, but the bill tip is not as pink/orange as you would see in a full adult.

    Nikolas has sumerised the 3 main ID features to seperate Atlantic from Indian, the grey head is the most prominent feature of your bird but we often see this on Indian birds.

    If this bird is a 3rd or 4th year Atlantic, would it show the grey head and eye patch as strongly as an adult bird? Also, have you considered it could be ink from squids? I've seen Black-browed Albatross with black squid ink on their heads on Wollongong trips, just a thought.

    The upside-down triangle eye-patch is not that prominent and unfortunatly there are no front on photos to show the bill pattern. Based on this I think its a sub-adult Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross.

    Below is a photo taken last June on the Wollongong trip, also apparently an Indian....

    Rob



    Name:  YNAL.WOLL.26JUNE10.jpg
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  7. #7
    Storm-Petrel
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    Thanks Rob,

    I've had comments from a few people that due to the outer primaries not being fully grown that it is a bird in it's second year. Which creates a problem as there appears to be knowledge gaps about both species of these birds at that age and how it might affect things like the dark triangle etc. Your bird certainly has a nice grey wash and this is something that others have pointed out that they are concerned about on our bird - the fact that the grey wash is rather patchy and not as consistent as one would expect on an Atlantic....at least on a bird older than a second year anyway!

    And yes, diet and effects of ink etc needs to be considered as well.

    Mick

  8. #8
    Storm-Petrel
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    Actually Rob....the more I look at your bird the more it's looking like a potential Atlantic (and at least one other person I've shown agrees). That's a very nice dark triangle and there seems to be at least a good hint of a darkish hood that carries over the nape.

    What do others think?? Keep in mind that if this was taken in June last year it was at the tail end of an unprecedented run of Great Shearwater reports off S and SE Australia. Relevant maybe?

    Mick

  9. #9
    Hi Mick and Rob,

    Looking at this single shot I agree that Rob's bird looks like an Atlantic. That day, we had 150+ Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross. I think, I did not see this particular bird but I remember that we had a discussion on board the Sandra K regarding Rob's bird. I think that because we couldn't judge on the third field mark (the shape of the yellow at the base of the culminicorn) we decided not to call it an Atlantic. However, I agree this bird does look good for an Atlantic. Do you have more photos of this bird, Rob?

    Nikolas

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