Mystery Bird #3, The Answer

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Mystery Bird #3, The Answer

Postby sav » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:06 pm

Despite lots of moaning about how hard this bird was, how poor the photo was, how cruel to get the sunlight so it looked like it had a yellow bill etc etc....15 out of the 21 attempts to put a name to this bird were correct - so it cant have been that bad after all!

A longish straight bill on a seabird has to belong to a Shearwater of some sort, and this one is clearly more-or-less dark brown above and pale below. The process of elimination is complicated if you think that yellowish colour on the bill is real, but if you dont fall into that trap there are really only two possible contenders : Fluttering and Hutton's Shearwaters. (18 out of 21 got to that point safely).

Separation of the two species is not terribly easy in the flesh, but there are enough clues to make this photo work for us.
The dark area around the throat and upper breast is more indicative of Hutton's, and the bill looks too long for Fluttering. The flat-headed profile is also a good Hutton's pointer. The field mark which I use most is the white tabs (saddlebags) which Flutterers have behind the wing, going up above the level of the wing, and these birds do not show that character. Anyway, they are HUTTON'S SHEARWATERS.(Oh, and Neil photographed them at Kaikoura in November 2006!!!)

One of the leading conteders got this one wrong - so there are now 5 people with a 100% record, but lots more with 2 out of 3. There's plenty of time to get involved here and even to win the competition. Next bird will be posted on 1st Nov. Good luck!!
Sav Saville
Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ
Great Birds, Real Birders
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Graham Saunders
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Re: Mystery Bird #3, The Answer

Postby Graham Saunders » Mon Oct 26, 2009 7:41 pm

Bugger! ... I'm not using that coin again.
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Re: Mystery Bird #3, The Answer

Postby ledzep » Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:57 pm

This is fun and I'm learning a lot. Saddlebags! I wonder if I'll still be able to spot them using binoculars on a bobbing boat.

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