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dark petrel in Drake Passage Nov 2019 (1 Viewer)

Still trying to determine the ID of this dark petrel seen relatively briefly while crossing the Drake Passage. I have my guess at ID, but it may be out of range, and I have no prior experience with pelagics south of the Tropic of Cancer, so I'd like to get some better informed opinions. Is it bad form to prejudice the "jury" with my tentative ID? If not, I will post it.

date: 23 November 2019
location: very roughly 57S, 65W (I lost GPS track ~12 hours prior)
photos: 2 cropped images attached; more, mostly lower quality ones will be posted by request

Thanks for giving this post a look.


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Jack Dawe

Well-known member
I don't have a lot of experience, but I would think the length of the bill would rule out most petrels. The dark bill tip would seem to favour Westland Petrel. Just my two cents until someone expert comes along.


Well-known member
I'm not expert either. The all-dark appearance with silvery flight feathers and the pale bill with a dark tip mean I think it has to be between Westland Petrel and flesh-footed Shearwater, with the former being more likely. I think it is Westland because: I think I see a dark border to the top of the bill (not present in flesh-footed); the bill appears relatively shorter, squatter; perhaps the feet are completely hidden, but if not they're clearly not pale.

Jack Dawe

Well-known member
I've not seen Flesh-footed Shearwater, but I'm reasonably familiar with the extremely similar Sooty Shearwater. I've never seen Sooty looking so heavy-bodied as this bird. The bulk looks to me to be a better fit for Westland Petrel.
Thanks for the thoughts so far. I'm feeling pretty good that it is a Procellaria petrel. I ruled out shearwaters based on petrel-like flight style and heftier body proportions. I saw a loose flock of several hundred sooty shearwaters a bit later in the day, and this bird stood out as unique. My guess is that it is either Westland or Parkinson's (Black) Petrel. I've naively leaning toward Parkinson's because the wings seem a bit narrow and the head is maybe not so blocky, but I have no experience here. The bird didn't stick around for long, nor did it land on the water. Therefore I wasn't able to judge wing projection on a sitting bird.

Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
Would White-chinned Petrel be the default similar-looking bird?? Maybe check that black bill tip always excludes that one too.


Well-known member
Would White-chinned Petrel be the default similar-looking bird?? Maybe check that black bill tip always excludes that one too.

Two more possibilities, white-chinned and Parkinson's. However, the former has no black bill tip. Photos of the latter suggest a very short tail which seems to start right after the wings (i.e. almost no lower body apparent). In many, the feet clearly protrude beyond the centre tail. The wings appear extremely long and thin: around twice the body length. I don't see any of these features here, so I'll stick with Westland

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