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

Not only new to birding but even newer to sea birding (1 Viewer)

LeedsLeads

New member
United Kingdom
Hi everyone,

I am relatively new to birding & in particular this forum. Although I have to say that I posted in May and was grateful for the help that I received.

I did a UK cruise a couple of weeks ago and took the attached photos (original & enlarged) of Manx Shearwater, a first for me, just off Land's End. However among the Manx is a brown bird that I am not sure what it is. I don't think it is a Shearwater and wonder if a Skua ? Possible Arctic Skua ???

I have 3 original photos and 3 enlarged photos of the bird that I need help with. It might even be a juvenile ? Can anyone please help with the identification.

Best regards,

Alan.
 

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delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
Hi Alan

Nice pictures these lad.

Mjh could well be right (I've no idea as have had little experience with shearwaters) but for bird identifications, you're really much better to post in the ID forum, Your question is more likely to be seen there by those who can help you.
 

Alexander Stöhr

Well-known member
Hello,
why not a Sooty Shearwater? Corys should show white underparts, a yellow bill and should be a little larger (I assume).
More, colouration and weak scalloped pattern on back is good for a Sootys.
Caveat: there are surely more experienced people here on birdforum and I remember Sootys to have longer and slender wings than this bird. This bird here looks too round-bodied and broad winged to me.
Conclusion? I hope for comments!
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
Hello,
why not a Sooty Shearwater? Corys should show white underparts, a yellow bill and should be a little larger (I assume).
More, colouration and weak scalloped pattern on back is good for a Sootys.
Caveat: there are surely more experienced people here on birdforum and I remember Sootys to have longer and slender wings than this bird. This bird here looks too round-bodied and broad winged to me.
Conclusion? I hope for comments!
It's a very good question... I think bill is too large/robust: although not yellow it's pale (sooty=dark I think), white underwing in one photo too extensive and clearly demarcated. But I don't see these every day...
 

Alexander Stöhr

Well-known member
It's a very good question... I think bill is too large/robust: although not yellow it's pale (sooty=dark I think), white underwing in one photo too extensive and clearly demarcated. But I don't see these every day...
Thank you!
You may well be right, but I remember that the pale panel on the underwing of Sooty Shearwater can appear quite striking and contrasting, dependent on light condition and angle of viewing. While it appears quite uniform dark and this doesnt change much when passing by (just the real sooty-brown colouration appears or vanishes), the underwing often appearantly changes in a single bird from on moment to another.
But as said, this is one of those threads I learn from. Thank you again, so helpfull to me!
 

Butty

Well-known member
You'd think the Manx > sooty > Cory's size differences would be enough to nail it on that feature alone - but size-assessment is a funny thing.
There's things that make me think Cory's (primarily the pale-looking bill with dark-looking tip), but a) it's clearly dark underneath and Cory's totally shouldn't be and b) its feet protrude, which Collins/Svensson indicate is right for sooty shearwater and wrong for Cory's shearwater. So, sooty shearwater.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Structure alone makes this bird, to my eye, very clearly a Cory's/Scopoli's/Cape Verde Shearwater. I would rule Sooty out instantly on structure and bill as seen in the first two photos. The third photo, which very clearly is the same bird, is deceiving with respect to chest color and bill thickness - I could believe it was a different bird if the sequence of photos were not clear. To me, a good reminder that interpreting one photo is often very challenging. For THE_FERN - similar to the Dark Pewee / Dusky-capped Flycatcher / wtf is it actually in the other thread - one photo is little to go on at times and it is hard to be confident.

I am sure there are more expert people here but I have spent a lot of time on the ocean and would guess I've seen many tens of thousands if not into the hundreds of the thousands of Sooties by now, and probably a few thousand of the Cory's/Scopoli's group. I am happy to be shown to be wrong and to learn, but I cannot fathom that being a Sooty with those broad wings and that bill.
 

mjh73

Well-known member
Australia
Re Sooty - Wrong structure, wrong colour (upper body should look like a dusky Manx, not a chocolate one), wrong bill profile / colour, wrong size (which is admittedly difficult to judge, but this bird is massive compared to the Manxies - OP thought it might be a Skua, which is more likely confusion with Cory's than Sooty)

I have seen a lot of Sooty / Short-tailed SW, I'm kind of amazed this is even on peoples ID contender list, but I have the unfair advantage of Southern Ocean pelagics I guess.
 

Alexander Stöhr

Well-known member
Thank you to all! Thats what I want to read here!
I remember Corys/Scopolis to have slightly paler and sandier/warmer upperparts and yellowish bill, but yes:
I havent seen much of them and beeing mainly alone in France and Spain (and no one helped=corrected me there) many passed unidentified. So I assume, I only could identify the easy/obvious ones/the ones that I could ID against Great SW
 

SteveClifton

Well-known member
Got to admit I thought I was well acquainted with Sooty Shearwater in field conditions, and seeing these images taken in bright sunlight, lead me to think that another species was involved (perhaps Balearic). However having a look at other images online, confirms it for me as Sooty. I don't see a problem with structure, including the slender bill. Quite a few images online too of Sooties showing similar faded secondaries and scaly coverts and scapulars .
If it's a Cory's/Scopoli's then where is the strong yellow bill, pale crescent on the upper tail, white belly and throat etc?
Take a look at the following pics of Sooties showing similar scaly plumage and patchy underparts.
Sooty Shearwater Pictures and Photos - Photography - Bird | Wildlife | Nature - Christopher Taylor
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus Griseus Flight

In the attached blown-up image (which was already posted above) it has even, smooth chocolate underparts (just brightly lit by strong sunlight). You can also see a hint of pale underwing 'flash' on the underside of the right wing. I wonder if the apparent pale leading coverts on its right wing could be an effect of the strong directional light rather than an actual plumage feature.
If it was a Cory's/Scopoli's, in these conditions the underparts would be gleaming white and highly over-exposed, yet they clearly aren't.
 

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AStevenson

Well-known member
This is a sooty shearwater. It's the bright light conditions affecting feather appearance and the bird in 'relaxed' flight mode with Manxies in calm weather that maybe is making it look structurally wrong to some people. Like Steve I considered a very dark Balearic as the only other possible but see nothing wrong with sooty.

cheers, Andrew
 

LeedsLeads

New member
United Kingdom
Hi everyone,

I am relatively new to birding & in particular this forum. Although I have to say that I posted in May and was grateful for the help that I received.

I did a UK cruise a couple of weeks ago and took the attached photos (original & enlarged) of Manx Shearwater, a first for me, just off Land's End. However among the Manx is a brown bird that I am not sure what it is. I don't think it is a Shearwater and wonder if a Skua ? Possible Arctic Skua ???

I have 3 original photos and 3 enlarged photos of the bird that I need help with. It might even be a juvenile ? Can anyone please help with the identification.

Best regards,

Alan.
Hi everyone,

I am relatively new to birding & in particular this forum. Although I have to say that I posted in May and was grateful for the help that I received.

I did a UK cruise a couple of weeks ago and took the attached photos (original & enlarged) of Manx Shearwater, a first for me, just off Land's End. However among the Manx is a brown bird that I am not sure what it is. I don't think it is a Shearwater and wonder if a Skua ? Possible Arctic Skua ???

I have 3 original photos and 3 enlarged photos of the bird that I need help with. It might even be a juvenile ? Can anyone please help with the identification.

Best regards,

Alan.
Hi everyone, thank you for your comments. I also put this out on Twitter and got lots, and lots of responses. As a new birder it was no surprise to me that I wasn't sure what it was, but I have had lots of different answers from some very experienced birders as well. One of the Hartlepool experts wondered if it was a Pink Footed Shearwater which would have been a 1st for the UK !! So, someone else forwarded it to Rare Bird Alert who suggested that it might be a "probable" Sooty Shearwater. That doesn't seem very definite but who am I to disagree with them ! But thanks again to all for helping.
 
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 Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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