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The following posed a few problems for me when it came to identifying birds seen on recent pelagic trip from Port Fairy (April 2021).

The following are my current thoughts (not necessarily conclusions) on what they are:

Shy albatross Complex 1:

Seen en route an hour into journey (8:08am)

  • ‘notch’ at base of underwing indicates a member of ‘shy complex’ (Shy, Salvin’s, Chatham, Yellow-nosed)
  • ‘grey hood’ suggests yellow nosed or salvin’s
  • ‘darker tip to bill’ suggests Salvins?

Conclusion: Salvin’s Albatross?

Black-Browed or Campbell’s:

Seen at site at 10:23am

  • Darker tip to bill and grey around neck suggests 2nd cycle Black Browed albatross?

Great Albatross 1:

Seen at 10:23am

Seen again at 10:38am:

Identification points:

  • Brown crown and dark tip to tail
  • Mottled brown on back and tail (vs white back on ‘great albatross 6’)
  • Upper wings solidly blackish

Conclusion: Wandering Albatross – ‘Snowy’ female or New Zealand antipodensis or gibsoni

Great Albatross 2:

Seen at 11:01am

Seen again at 11:08am

Identification points:

  • pure white body, tail, head
  • no ‘pinkish stain’ (diagnostic on wandering, if present)

Conclusion: Wandering – snowy ?

Great Albatross 3:

Seen at 10:43am

Identification points:

  • slight mottling on back
  • tail largely white
  • hint of ‘pinkish stain’ on neck in main photo (diagnostic on wandering, if present)

Conclusion: Wandering ? Southern Royal Albatross??

Great Albatross 4:

Seen at 12:25pm

  • Brown crown and dark tip to tail
  • Mottled brown on back and tail (vs white back on ‘great albatross 6’)
  • Upper wings solidly blackish

Conclusion: Wandering Albatross – ‘Snowy’ female or New Zealand antipodensis or gibsoni

Great Albatross 5:

Seen at 11:04am

Seen at 12:28pm

Seen at 12:56pm

Identification points:

  • Possibly the same individual as ‘great albatross 4’
  • Feet seem to extend past tail
  • Brown crown and dark tip to tail
  • Mottled brown on back and tail (vs white back on ‘great albatross 6’)
  • Upper wings solidly blackish

Conclusion: Wandering Albatross – ‘Snowy’ female or New Zealand antipodensis or gibsoni

Great Albatross 6:

Seen at 12:32pm

Identification points:

  • whiter back than ‘great albatross 1’ and ‘great albatross 5’
  • Brown crown and dark tip to tail
  • Upper wings solidly blackish

Conclusion: Wandering Albatross – ‘Snowy’ female or New Zealand antipodensis or gibsoni

References:

  • Oceanic Birds of the World – Howell & Zufelt
  • Albatrosses, Petrels and Shearwaters of the world – Onley & Scofield
  • Photographs from others on the trip posted to eBird Port Fairy Pelagic

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