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Thread: Northern or Southern Giant-Petrel

  1. #1

    Northern or Southern Giant-Petrel

    Being totally new to pelagic birds I'm not too sure on the ID of this Petrel. It looks like an immature bird to me anyway. The shot was taken on the Sydney pelagic, 9/7/11. A lot of the birds were being called by various people but unfortunately I missed this one (as well as a few others).
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    Last edited by boombana; 16-07-2011 at 08:20 PM.

  2. #2
    Administrator
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    To me, it's a Northern. You can see the redish tip to the bill starting to come through. I think most of the Giant Petrels we see on the east coast of Australia are young birds. The birds we see usually have nice fresh plumage, like the one in your shot.

    Cracking shot too, by the way.

    Any others that you'd like id'd, just put them up

  3. #3
    Thanks. I've got more to ID

  4. #4
    Storm-Petrel
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    Hi Boombana,

    This indicidual was called a northern GP all day long on the Sydney July pelagic. It is a juvenile, as Brook points out. From the detail revealed in the photos I question whether it is old enough to identify to species level. I can see reddish (or orange really) coming in around the base of the maxillary unguis (the bulging hook at the tip of the upper mandible), but I also see a greenish tip to the max u. I wouldn't like to say whether the Max u will eventually turn red or green. This type of immature GP is illustrated and described in Harrison 1983, Onley and Scofield 2007 and Marchant & Higgins 1990 as an unidentifiable GP. I don't think it is known how to identify birds like this one. Happy to be corrected, though

  5. #5
    Hi Boombana,

    attached is a photo of a Giant Petrel called as a Southern on last months Wollongong trip. This is probably at the extreme end of how young Giant petrel bills can look (bill tip the same as the rest of the bill) and probably not assignable to species. I would lean towards Northern for your bird but it may be to young to be sure.

    Another id point for seperating young Northern from Southern Giant petrels that I've heard is that Southern can look sooty brown where Northern looks more chocolate brown, but I don't know if this is in the litriture anywhere. Has anyone else heard of this id point before?

    Cheers,

    Rob
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  6. #6
    Thanks guys - most informative. I'll take it as an unidentified Giant Petrel. David, I'm heading out on my second pelagic this weekend. Last month's Sydney pelagic listed both the Northern and Southern. Does that still hold? (I may have missed the second G Petrel). Rob, that's a terrific shot. It shows a good view of the interesting tubular nose structure on these birds.

    Greg

  7. #7
    Storm-Petrel
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    Hi Greg,

    I was calling it a northern all day and I can see why peolpe would lean that way. I mean it definately looks red-billed compared with Rob's shot. but after seeing your photo I thought, well we can call it a northern, but can we be completely sure. I guess if it is not a Northern then we didn't record one on the the July pelagic (there wasn't another that I was aware of), but I'm not going to put my foot down about it.

    see you on Saturday, lets hope tomorrows southerlies bring some birds!

  8. #8
    Hi Greg et al,

    I can only confirm the difficulties of IDing young GPs. To my experience it is not only the color of the bill tip but the darkness in general: confirmed juv. NGPs (by clear red bill tip) appear dark-tipped in the distance, whereas confirmed juv. SGPs (by clear greenish bill tip) appear rather pale-tipped in the distance. This is just my experience, I haven't done any statistical analysis though.

    BTW I also called your bird, Greg, NGP thoughout the trip. And yes there was another sighting of a GP later. Edwin Vella IDd this second one as a SGP.

    As far as I know, SGP used to be by far more common in our waters in the past. But that has changed and now it is the opposite.

    Cheers,

    Nikolas

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