Tropicbird Wellington

General birdwatching discussion, help with bird identification, and all other things relating to wild birds and birding in NZ that don't fit in one of the other forums.
caleb@goya.com.au
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Tropicbird Wellington

Postby caleb@goya.com.au » Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:36 pm

Hi all, have just recently moved to Wellington and while driving back from the airport today I noticed what couldn't be anything other than a tropicbird flying directly overhead. I thought these birds never come near land, though I must admit that I don't know a great deal about them. Any ideas? Is there any species I could have mistaken them for? The body shape and distinctive tail were unmistakable. Cheers :)
Finn Davey
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Re: Tropicbird Wellington

Postby Finn Davey » Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:30 am

If it was a tropicbird then... AHHHHHBJGKHLAHIGAGKJSGAKFKUASGKUYUTHLWGWDBB THATS SUPER SUPER SUPER RARE AHHHHHH.

But more likely it would have been either, a Southern Black-backed Gull, Australasian Gannet, Black Shag, Pied Shag, White-fronted Tern.
Terns have a more similar shape, but tropicbirds are huge and black so they're definitely opposites. The Largest birds we have in Wellington are the Gannets, unless it's an albatross species like a white-capped mollymawk that has wandered in a bit closer than usual.
Finn Davey
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Re: Tropicbird Wellington

Postby Finn Davey » Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:23 am

Sorry. Mixed up Tropicbird with Frigatebird. Oops

It would have been a White-fronted tern.
White-fronted Terns are one of Wellingtons most common sea/shore birds and them and Tropicbirds do share many similar traits. They have very similar body shapes, the main difference being their tails. White fronted terns have V shaped tail feathers and tropicbirds have a pointed tail that fan fan out with two very long and thin feathers, like ribbons trailing out the back.
Nakilad
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Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:52 am

Re: Tropicbird Wellington

Postby Nakilad » Fri Mar 13, 2020 3:44 pm

I have an embarrassing post from several years ago claiming what I thought was a tropicbird, which turned out to be a caspian tern. So that might be another possibility.
Pat Miller
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Re: Tropicbird Wellington

Postby Pat Miller » Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:07 am

Size and shape-wise (except for the tail streamers) the most likely species would be a Caspian Tern as Nakilad said, but you mentioned the distinctive tail so if you saw that you're own ID of it as a tropicbird is probably correct..... but red or white-tailed would be the next question. We get both as vagrants from time to time in NZ. Not sure how far south they go though. How well did you see it?
Pat

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