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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

North Sea Shearwater/Skua? (1 Viewer)

Gander

Well-known member
I saw a couple of dark brown birds sitting in amongst a flock of GBBGs, this morning. I assumed they would be Great Skua, as we have had a few about. Now looking at the photos, I'm not so sure. Beak looks slim, chests appear pale.

Any thoughts?
 

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Periwinkle

Tame Valley Birder
Be aware Balearic Shearwater is extremely rare that far north (i think one record for Shetland for example). I would still tend to go for Sooty with the pale areas a lighting effect. There have also been large numbers of Sooty recently nearby . However i don't think you can be entirely sure on those pics.
 

Butty

Well-known member
On plumage - lighting or no - I don't see how these could be sooty shearwater. If I believe Collins/Svensson, they look just fine for Balearic shearwater.
 

Gander

Well-known member
Be aware Balearic Shearwater is extremely rare that far north (i think one record for Shetland for example). I would still tend to go for Sooty with the pale areas a lighting effect. There have also been large numbers of Sooty recently nearby . However i don't think you can be entirely sure on those pics.

On plumage - lighting or no - I don't see how these could be sooty shearwater. If I believe Collins/Svensson, they look just fine for Balearic shearwater.
I should probably explain that I am on an offshore oil platform. A few years ago, I had a Shearwater at close quarters that I am 100% sure was a Balearic, although it was not accepted by the NSBC rare birds committee on description only.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
I've no experience of either species seen resting on the sea, but if we consider structure when in flight, both species are relatively short-tailed, but Balearic is much shorter-winged than Sooty, even taking into account shorter body length.

Howell & Zufelt have photos of both species on the sea, and this difference in relative dimensions seems apparent in that Balearic wing primaries don't extend much or at all beyond the tail, whereas Sooty wings extend well beyond. To me the second picture in particular seems to show more of a Balearic wing length in the resting birds.

If the pale areas are not a lighting effect (were they visible through optics, as well as in the photos?) this obviously strongly supports Balearic too. The only other species to rule out is then short-tailed :), recorded off Brittany with Balearic shearwaters and washed up on a beach in Ireland in recent years!
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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