Returning today from the Birds New Zealand Conference in Wellington this past weekend, I saw a mollymawk on the Whanganui River, right in the centre of the town, being harassed by Southern black-backed gulls. After a speedy U-turn and a pull-in to the local Four Square shop on Anzac Parade, I watch the bird for about five minutes as it circled back and forth along the river, exciting the ire of the local black-backed gulls, most of them sub-adults. The bird turned out to be a Buller's mollymawk, characterised by a greyish head (with a paler forehead, visible when it turned head-on); yellow along the top of the culmen (also conspicuous when seen head-on) and, as far as I could tell, some yellow on the lower mandible, otherwise the bill was dark; a white underwing with a narrow black trailing edge and a broader black leading edge (but not as broad as in grey-headed mollymawk); and a pale rump. It was noticeably larger than the black-backed gulls, but not hugely so. I managed to get a couple of poor photos (in one of which the mollymawk is disappearing out of the image, chased by an immature gull; see the collage below). The bird definitely gave the impression of being 'lost', not helped by being harassed by the gulls. It was last seen heading downstream towards the estuary and sea at about 1:35 pm. Paul Gibson went out later looking for it but did not see it, which is a pity as his photos are infinitely better than mine . There was a gale blowing at the time and sea conditions, judged by what I saw earlier along the Pukerua Bay - Paekakariki coast, were rough.
Please excuse the quality of the photos. The weather was dull and squally.
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3 posts • Page 1 of 1
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- Joined: Wed May 20, 2009 2:21 pm
So did you stop and turn it into a 5-min count for the Atlas, just to screw things up...?
- Peter Frost
- Posts: 171
- Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:59 am
Yup, never miss an opportunity (checklist S57072163). I did a quick count of the sparrows, couple of mynas in and around the mini-market car park, to add to the kerfuffle of gulls on the river. I think that this is legitimate, in that the mollymawk was in that Atlas square (BJ69) within the Altas period. Of course, it is now an 'inland' record, but why make things easy for the analysts