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Puffinus ID question, west coast of Portugal (1 Viewer)

Marcio Cachapela

Active member
I have a question about this bird. First of all sorry for bad photos, i made the possible ones.
It was on a flock with Puffinus mauretanicus and at first time i thought that it would be a Puffinus puffinus, after a better look i think it may be a Puffinus yelkouan.
This bird is smaller than Puf mau, this is ok of Puf puf and Puf yel.

But even with bad photos we can see some details.

This bird is more dark Brown than black, as we can expect on Puf yel.

It seems that it dont have the white spot/crescent behind eye.

Difuse band on axiles from rear base of wing to centre of basal wing.

White on rump

a bigger toes projection

not pure white on undertail-coverts

what is is your opinion? the question here is that Puffinus puffinus is usual at Portuguese west coast, but Puffinus yelkouan would be on of the first records.

Thanks in advance


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Marcio Cachapela

Active member
more pics


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Well-known member
Agree most shots don't show the pale crescent behind the eye, but this could be due to distance and the amount of detail the pictures can show - in post #3, picture #2 there looks like there may actually be a pale crescent. In this picture in particular, the vent area also looks very pale, pointing to puffinus.

Have you seen the Bird Guides article on Yelkouan shearwater ID?

This says that apparent leg length is not a good ID feature.

I don't have any experience of Yelkouan shearwaters, just mauretanicus (off Portugal) and puffinus (mainly in Scotland) - this is just my interpretation of your photos, others will give better advice!

Simon Wates

Well-known member
Although Yelkouan hasn't been officially recorded off Portugal, myself and I know others have seen birds like yours and some with whiter UTCs with a degree of regularity. Problem is, very good close up photos are needed to prove the ID and would need to be taken from a boat I believe. Balearic is also quite variable in amount of paleness on underparts and is notoriously affected by lighting. When there is a good passage of Balearic the birds look so different in the morning compared to the afternoon.


Well-known member
thanks for your post. more opinions?

I too think this is puffinus (Manx shearwater). I think the white underwing is too bright—about the same as the under body—and the splodge of white just behind the wing (to the rear) is too large and pronounced. Of course there is individual variation...

I've (hopefully) uploaded a flock of Yelkoans in flight near Istanbul. In all those where we can see the underwing, there is a [subtle] contrast with the white of the body, with the wing slightly duskier. We can also see that in almost all cases the post-wing "splodge" is missing or reduced.


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