May 2010

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Birders who Blog, Tweet and Chirp in Lima.

Birders who Blog, Tweet and Chirp. Photo: Dawn Fine.

Birders meetup in Maine. Now we shall do the same thing in Lima. Photo: Dawn Fine.

Dawn Fine created a group for birders using internet services such as Twitter, Chirptracker, Facebook and birding bloggers. She called it Birders who Blog, Tweet or Chirp  on Facebook. Soon there was a web page and a forum, and while the activity on both sites at times is a bit stale, the most important thing is that there are regularly live meetups arranged . Dawn has the advantage that she is always travelling. She lives in mobile home with her husband Jeff and they travel where the birds and nature are. Dawn blogs practically daily at Dawn’s Bloggy Blog. Every so often she announces that she will be in a place and touts out a new meeting with friends she knows from the social media interface under the Birders who Blog, Tweet and Chirp. These meetings have been very successful and lots of fun. Not only putting face to a name, but also educational  as the excursion members  have different experiences and knowledge and together it is a huge knowledge tank. Furthermore the idea of meeting up for real is a sound action against the critics who argue that friendship within Social Media is shallow, and that real friends can’t be made on the internet. It does not have to be birding all the time. Sharon Stietler aka Birdchick regularly arranges “birds and beer ” – a bit of afternoon birding and then off to the pub for a pint (or two!).

Social Media Meetups were not created by birders though. With the popularity of Twitter, tweetups have become a fashionable word. Regularly tech geeks or bloggers meet up. The gurus (who in a way are competing for the same crowd) are making events together on regular basis (and most often charge for them) and they are well attended, but for birders this is an interesting way to get to know other birders locally and those that happen to pass through.

So for the first time I call for a  meetup/tweetup in the Birders who blog, tweet and chirp spirit in Lima, Peru on Saturday May 29. I was thinking of  two parts for a program.

07.30-9.00. Parque Ramon Castilla in La Aurora, Miraflores.

09.30-12.30. Pantanos de Villa.

Everyone is welcome, you don’t have to be connected on  Facebook or Twitter with me.  Spread the word with your contacts on the internet. Also use newer services such as Google Buzz and Four Square, and mailing lists as well to reach more people. I’d be interested to know how many people there are in Lima who like birds?

There is no cost involved except for entrance fee at Pantanos de Villa. I can offer a free ride for some people to Pantanos de Villa (first come-first served), as well as coordinate rides for those who are without a vehicle.

Enter your intention to participate in the comment section below and if you have any questions.  The meetup will be bilingual, although Spanish will be spoken more of course.  There will be a Spanish version of this blogpost on the Incaspiza Blog.

Oh, one more thing… if you do use social media, please put your user name on a large sticker on your chest, so you can be identified. You will most likely be known only by your user name, but not your face, so it is a good  idea to let people know who you are. Social events such as this may also give unexpected business opportunities, although this is not the prime reason for the event. In any case don’t forget your business cards.

See you next Saturday May 29, 2010. I hope to do my next tweet up, where-ever I will be for a short holiday in June,  the following in Rio de Janeiro around July 14 or 15 (Hope to run Rio de Janeiro Marathon on July 18) and in Rutland, UK for the British BirdFair in August. At least once a month, I shall call out for a tweet-up. You can obviously do the same with your followers and Facebook Friends whereever you are. You shall be spreading the birding gospel. And we all know: “More birders =>More eco-tourism =>More bird Conservation”. This will be fun!

If we can’t come to Lima on this occasion here is a short resumè where I will be during 2010. See ya!

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Peruvian Sheartail  in flight- Thaumastura cora. Photo: Alfredo FernandezIsn’t it lovely to see new birders form. Well, here is a Peruvian kid – Alfredo Fernandez who has been birding for two year. As many new birders he birds with the camera. I  was amazed by his great photos shown in this piece, so I thought it would be nice to share these with the readers of this blog and also let you know Alfredo

Who is Alfredo?
My name is Alfredo Fernández G and I am 16 years old.

How long have you been birding?
Since I came back from a trip to Tambopata in July 2008. In December 2008 I went birding with you at Pantanos de Villa.
Why do you watch birds?
Watching animals have always been a passion for me. I spent hours in the park as a small boy or watching Animal Planer etc.

Why birdwatching?
Watching birds and animals in generala,  give me an sensation that can’t be described and which I can0t feel with other hobbies.

Which species gave such an impact on you that you felt you had to keep on birding?
I was amazed by a Harris’s Hawk. Such a large magnifiscent bird in the middle of the city, largely unknown to people in general in Lima.  I could not believe such a bird could exist in this urban environment.

What is your birding equipment?
I bird with my camera a Nikon D200 with a 70-300 VR  zoom hoping to replace it  with a 300mm F4)
y un flash sb600, and with this equipment I have made 90% of my shots. Before I hada a point and shoot with a good zoom.

What are the five best birds you have seen?
Difficult question, but probably the best top five would be

5. Amazon Kingfisher
4. Bald Eagle
3. Osprey
2. Harpy Eagle
1. Peruvian Sheartail

What are the five most wanted birds for you?
5. Swallow-tailed Kite
4. Green Kingfisher
3. King Vulture
2. Paradise Tanager
1. Marvelous Spatuletail

How many species have you seen?
I have not seen that many species yet, but I love Raptors and Hummingbirds.
Someone, get this guy a pair of binoculares soon!
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BP and Bird Conservation.

An aerial view of the oil leaked from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead, May 6, 2010. (REUTERS/Daniel Beltra)

Will/Shall BirdLife International still cooperate with BP for their yearly conservation award?

The catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico with the largest oil spill in history caused by an accident on a deep water oil rig run by BP, had me wondering about the future of the partnership between BirdLife International and BP. A nightly Google session resulted in this debate post. I am keen to see your comments.

BP – the GREEN Oil company

Look at the BP logo to the right. BP has a long track record of trying to be the “greenest” of all the oil companies. Was it only a play to the gallery?  Having a green profile is relatively cheap, when it comes to the money spent compared to the gains. BP had 16.5 billon dollars net income last year after tax. Between 1990 and 2005 some 3 million dollars were spent on BP:s Conservation Program supporting projects of Flora and Fauna International, Conservation International, Wildlife Conservation Society and BirdLife International. That is a mere 0.02% of the last year’s profit. Sure, there have been some great projects funded by BP, but is it right that a company can buy a clean conscience for a trifle of their profits, and then be responsible for the worst oil disaster in history?

100 million dollars have been granted by BP to the four affected states of Alabama, Lousiana, Florida and Mississppi in relief to clean up the mess and to compensate businesses affected.  Should that not tell BirdLife and the other organizations that BP has come off way too cheaply to be sustained by four major conservation organizations during 20 years as the GREEN Oil Company? And what will they do now? The current BP Conservation Program runs for another 5 years.

10 years ago BP announced they would never drill in environmentally sensible areas if there was a too high risk

Ironically, at the BP Conservation Award Dinner in London 2000, Sir John Browne says:

“And today I’m pleased to announce a partnership between BP Amoco, The State of Louisiana, the Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited and the Conservation Fund aimed at maintaining and enhancing 70,000 acres of South West Louisiana coastal marsh and ricelands renowned for their vast migratory bird populations…..”

 And  he goes on:

 “….. Of course, our activities do sometimes touch on very ecologically sensitive areas. Our stated goal is ‘no damage to the natural environment’.

We’re determined to keep to that commitment and we will only work in areas where we’re absolutely convinced we can do so.

Whether such sensitive areas are open to activity or not is a matter for Governments to make on the basis of the democratic will. Some areas no doubt will be put off limits and we must and will respect those decisions.

And if areas are open, we will only work in them if we’re convinced, after taking the very best scientific advice, that we can fulfill our policy standards – including the protection of biodiversity.

We fully accept that means that there will be areas which we have to rule out.“

Why was the deep sea drilling not ruled out?

Question is: Could the risk of deep sea drilling in the Gulf be foreseen?

The answer is YES! Check out this from a New Scientist article published by Phil McKenna on May 10, 2010:

“… yet the risks posed by deep-sea operations – and specifically the potential impact of the failure of key systems – have long been understood. In 2000, the US Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) published a report warning that there were several difficulties connected with deep-water well control, that experience in this area was “limited” and with many rigs having very high oil production rates, a blowout could be “a potential show-stopper” for deep-water drilling in general. That may yet prove to be the case.

Four years later, a report prepared for the MMS by a team at Texas A&M University in College Station warned that while drilling technology had advanced, safety technology had stagnated – and highlighted blowout control as a particular concern.

Then in 2008, a Society of Petroleum Engineers report warned that the hydraulic rams used in many BOPs to shut off oil flow may lack the capacity to cut through the high-strength drills used in deep-sea operations. The report’s authors included people employed by Transocean and BP – the companies that own and lease Deepwater Horizon respectively.

Despite these reports, in 2009, the MMS granted BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling operation a “categorical exclusion” from all environmental reviews under the US National Environmental Policy Act. Such exclusions are meant for projects where, if any problems occur, environmental damage is likely to be minimal or non-existent. Until this month’s spill, the MMS had granted hundreds of such waivers each year to drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico.”

To me it seems BP did not live up to their high moral standards stated by Sir John. Should large conservation organizations continue to accept support from BP, when their environmental goals can not be fulfilled? Should BirdLife International continue to help BP clean their name for peanuts, while extremely important wild-life refuges are threatened by the Deepwater Horizon oil-spill? What do you think?

Photo from REUTER via
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Long-whiskered Owlet on film

Long-whiskered Owlet. Photo: Shachar Alterman

Long-whiskered Owlet. Photo: Shachar Alterman

Ever since I read the news about Shachar Alterman’s discovery and filming of Long-whiskered Owlet near Esperanza on January 25, 2010, I had the intention to do a blog post interviewing Shachar.  Finally got all the ingredients together – that is time in front of the computer and the inspiration.

First the facts.

The Long-whiskered Owlet Xenoglaux loweryi was first found on an LSU expedtition in 1976 and described in 1977. It should take until 2002 until Dan Lane and other LSU researchers obtained a recording of its song, after having mistnetted one and kept it in the tent overnight. In February 2007 David Geale and Juvenal Ccahuana managed to find and photograph one in the wild (outside a mistnet) for the first time but again far from the road on a gruelsome trail within the ECOAN conservation area at Abra Patricia. In May 2008 Frank Lambert and Nick Athanas found and recorded one 50 meter from the Long-whiskered Owlet Lodge.  A few people have heard it at the Owlet Lodge since, but as far as I know no more sightings.

When I was with a group at the Abra Patricia Lodge, I check an email giving details about yet a new site for the Owlet, very close to Abra Patricia. The Long-whiskered Owlet had been video-filmed for the first time by Shachar Alterman.

I got a mail from Shachar the other day asking if I would not consider to bring birders to the Esperanza site where he filmed it. Interesting prospect! Could it really be possible to sell a trip including a long muddy walk, sleeping in a moist hut with lack of the cosy comforts of Abra Patricia Lodge just a stone’s throw away. After reading Shachar’s great account about his search for the Owlet (highly recommended reading), I was even less sure it could be done.

BUT…..Maybe, if one considered the following:

  • Lack of Owlets at the Owlet Lodge. Sure it has been recorded there and Nick Athanas and Frank Lambert got excellent views and recordings. But, after that very few people heard it and as far as I know the last two years noone has seen it. My last stay at the lodge coincided with the discovery at Esperanza. Yet no see and no hear during the beautiful moonlit night in January at the Owlet Lodge. And we did try a lot. We were tempted to go to for it, but the comforts of the lodge struck us paralized.
  • The hit rate has been very high at the Ezparanza.
  • The cost at Abra Patricia is now 120 dollars per person including meals. Not budget birder friendly.

So the type of person that would go would be someone that can support less comfort, does not mind hiking a muddy trail and someone that would like to spend less money.

Interview with Shachar Alterman and Noga Shanee

To get a better idea what to expect I interviewed Shachar and Noga Shanee. Noga is founder of  Neotropical Primate Conservation.
How come you ended up going on the primate expedition? Did you specifically look for the owlet?

Shachar: I first visited Peru last July on a two-weeks birding trip with a local guide name Eduardo. Our main target species was the Owlet. We spent four or five nights in the LW Owlet lodge, and I only imagined hearing it once. On returning I published a small diary in an Israeli news-site. Noga Shanee, the co founder of the NPC read it and made contact, claiming they have the Lechucita in the forests near them. Of course I didn’t believe it a bit, but when she contacted me a couple of months later, looking for a birder to volunteer in a survey they were doing in some potential nature reserves, I jumped at the opportunity.

This led to a one month journey in some of the most remote corners of the north-eastern Andean slopes, and to many unforgettable birding and nature experiences (Read Shachar’s great tale on the Owlet expeditions here. ). The highlight of course was the discovery of the new LW Owlet’s population in the forests above La Esperanza on the 24th of January this year.
Tell me about the infrastructure at the camp site. Are there beds or mattresses to sleep on. Any cooking facilities? Can porters be arranged from Esperanza?
Shachar: Housing in La Esperanza is very basic. I slept in the volunteers’ apartment, but Noga, as part of her project, is insisting on Lodging the visitors in the house of the local village people – running water, matresses and food included. In the forest itself we all sleep in a forest hut, equipped with basic beds and matresses (a sleeping bag is still needed), with running water nearby and a burning fire to cook food on. No porters were hired, but you can hire horses to carry your equipment to the hut. The walk itself is steep and very muddy (boots are heavily needed), but in a slow pace you can make it in 3-4 hours. I did it with a heavily loaded backpack but it would have been much easier with a horse close by.
What other birds can be seen on a trail?
Shachar: Noga got a full list of  birds watched regularly in and near the forest. I can mention a few: Rusty-tinged Antpitta (abundant and very responsive!), Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Lulu’s Tody-Tyrant, Rufous-banded Owl,Vermiculated Screech-Owl and White-throated Screech-Owl, along with the usual mixed flocks in these altitudes.
Lulu's Tody-Tyrant Photo: Shachar Alterman

Lulu's Tody-Tyrant Photo: Shachar Alterman

It is worth mentioning that the forest is rich with other very interesting wildlife: the endemic Yellow-Tailed Wooley-Monkey and Nocturnal Monkeys, Ocelot (we ran into a mother and a cub the night we found the Lechucita) and the Spectacled Bear are seen quite regularly there.
Yellow-tailed Woolly-Monkey Photo: Shachar Alterman

Yellow-tailed Woolly-Monkey Photo: Shachar Alterman

What can you guarantee for a group that only have one shot – by staying one night at the campsite? I heard from my friend Noam Shany that he also saw the owlet recently. So could you go through the positive and negative sightings since January?
Shachar: As for the Owlet, I believe chances are very good, and frankly, can’t think of a better place. The night we found it, it took us less then an hour, and we heard at least another five. The following expedition succeeded on tracking it, but a second before lighting on it a group of nocturnal monkeys just scared it off… So they got only a glimpse of it flying. Noam Shany’s group spent 3 nights there, because it was heavily raining, but succeeded of seeing it for one second – ome meter away of the group! – before it took of. Noam told me he wants to go back there and have another go. Noga told me a 4th group went there and succeeded in seeing it very closely and for a longer time. So, by now the statistics are very very good – 4 out of 4, even though not all sightings were as satisfying as the one we had.
Noga: It is actually 5 times out of 5 now, as. I went to an area which is a little bit further and three individuals answered me simultaneously. The first time we heard it in June 2008, was never really confirmed, the guy didn’t use playback and couldn’t record it well enough to recognize, but he was sure that he had heard it.  June may actually be a good month as it is supposed to be dry season and the trails will be easier to walk.
When it was recorded were there any common denominator of the weather conditions, full moon, overcast, rain, etc?
Noga: Nothing I can think of, from my experience during nights here in the forest, there are nights when the forest is all alive and noisy and nights where it seems totally abandoned. These can be consecutive nights, so I don’t think that it has much to do with the moon. We never tried to look for the owlet in the rain because her call is very quiet and we would not be able to hear it through the noise of the rain.
Has anyone tried to worm feed the Ochre-fronted Antpitta?
Shachar: Unfortunately no Ochre-Fronted Antpitta was located in these forests yet, so can’t tell you much about worm-feeding there.
The description of the lodging conditions at Esperanza in Shachar’s article does not sound too inviting when people could stay in Pomacochas or Abra Patricia very comfortably.  I am sure many of my future groups would prefer a hotel than the basic overnight conditions in Esperanza – and opt only for one night in the forest hut. Is this at all possible?
Noga: Shachar was  over reacting a bit, I lauged a lot while reading his shower description. It is not too bad. We would like the communities to have as much income as possible, but you are welcome to sleep in Pomacochas or Abra Patricia, come here in the morning and start walking to the forest. There is absolutely no problem with that.
Why is the Esperanza site better for the owlet than the Owlet trail at the Owlet lodge?
Shachar: My answer is very simple: At La Esperanza you get to see the Owlet. At Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge you only pay for it;-). Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Owlet lodge, we saw a lot of great birds and the staff there were wonderful.

What are the chances of Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey? It is a species I have long wished to see, and it will certainly be a good bonus.
Noga: There are 6 groups of yellow tailed woolly monkeys living around the area where you would be visiting. There is a 99% chance of being next to at least one of the groups,  however, they are sometimes very quiet and hard to see. Usually you can at least hear them, and we see them all the time. You would need a bit of luck, but it is probably the best place to see this species.
Noga, you mention Andean Night Monkey in one of your mails. What is that? A different form or a good species?
Noga: Aotus miconax, good species and endemic to Amazonas and San Martin,
Unstudied, Vulnerable, but very easy to see here.
Gunnar: Wow, another endemic monkey species the. I was not aware of this!
Someone ought set up monkey watching trips – as there are three endemic primate species in the region if one include also the Rio Mayo Titi-Monkey lower down.
Andean Night Monkey Aotus miconax. Photo Noga Shanee

Andean Night Monkey Aotus miconax. Photo Noga Shanee

What altitude is the Hut?
Noga: Altitude of the hut is about 1900m. Lower than Abra Patricia, although the trail goes up and down

Future of Yellow-tailed Whoolly Monkey and Long-whiskered Owlet at Esperanza?

I am not going to give you all the anwers because I don’t know. Let’s discuss the issue here in the comment section. Will birders pay at Abra Patricia when most species can be seen from the road or on the Esperanza trail?

I´ll only answer this question myself before letting you loose. A definite YES!! The fee is for using the trails, visiting the feeders and use of the observation tower is $US20 which I believe is a one time fee, although this should be checked. The trails give access to species like Cinnamon Screech-Owl, Wattled Guan, Royal Sunangel, Ochre-fronted Antpitta, Bay Antpitta, Bar-winged Woodwren, and Cinnamon-breasted Tody-Tyrant that still have not been recorded on the Esperanza trail. Also, the trails are very well maintained.  Behind the lodge at I have seen the rare Rufous-vented Whitetip. The lodge area is also great for White-capped Tanager. Staying at the Lodge is 80 dollars per person plus 20$ for each meal (the trail fee included is included for those that stay at the lodge).  In contrast staying at Esperanza is 20 soles per person (roughly $7.50 and 4 soles for meals  ($1.50). I imagine that most birders shall end up staying at Abra Patricia anyway because comfort is just so much better, and even if one go to rough it for one night, most people want to come back to the comfort at Abra Patricia.

What do you think is the best strategy for the locals to get birders and primate lovers to stay at Esperanza? Is it viable to attract birders to this project with such basic conditions? Would you be willing to go? So should the new site be seen as a threat to existing eco-tourism business at Abra Patricia, which is empty during long periods? Interesting questions and even more interesting are your comments below.

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Tawny Antpitta on Flickr - Michael Woodruff

Long due!

Long time since the last newsletter. Rather than doing another gigantic newsletter, I thought I’d put you in the loop what I (Gunnar) have been up to lately and where I will be in 2010.  Check this blog post regarding my whereabouts in 2010. It includes a 3 week Antpitta hunting trip in December from Tarapoto, Peru to Coca, Ecuador via north-western Ecuador and Canande Reserve. OK, there will be far more birds than Antpittas, but there are 20 species of Antpittas on our chosen route and we will try to see as many of them as possible. It is possible now as several of them are staked out at feeding stations. There are also hoards of hummingbirds on this trip, including Marvelous Spatuletail and Black-breasted Puffleg. Another exciting trip contains an attempt to break the BIG DAY world record – and you can join us.  Would you not like to record 332 species in 24hours? It would be the ultimate birdathon, wouldn’t it?

Meet-up! Tweet-up! Face-up!

I also plan to visit the British Birdfair in September and run a Marathon in Brazil in July (and do some birding of course). Maybe our paths will cross. It would be great to meet you`.

Life is full of encounters. Yesterday, on our Lima Pelagic (see photos here) I met with Martin Reid for the first time – a gull and hummingbird fanatic based in Texas whom I have known for 17 years on the internet and his partner Sheridan Coffey a blogger whom I have known on Facebook and through her blog since 2008, when I joined Facebook and started Blogging. It is great to put a face to a name. The magic of the times we live in. Internet and Social Media.  I shall be arranging Meet-ups, Tweet-ups and Face-ups to connect in real life once every month or so. I will let you know ahead of time where I am. Maybe some birding in Lima on May 29, a meet-up in Rio to hike for Gray-winged Cotinga in Serra dos Orgaos in July or a meet-up at the British birdfair in August.

Our own community on Facebook Pages

Talking about Social Media. A couple of years ago, I tried to start a community among Kolibri clients. We spent considerable time (and money) in programming, just to find the whole system very short of what I wanted. I wish I had known about Facebook then. On the other hand it was good to let Facebook mature to what it is today. The networks one can form today on Facebook are very useful for a brand. It is not about selling, but about connecting. It is more give than take.
The newest thing on Facebook is Facebook Pages. With Pages a community is created with anyone who have interest in learning more about a company, brand, organization or even celebrities. We created a Faceboook page and this have served Kolibri Expeditions very well with close to 1700 members as I write this. If you have not visited us please to so at  The advantage with a page is that it is open for anyone to see. You don’t need to be a Facebook member to see it. Our guides (and good photographers Alejandro Tello and Juan Jose Chalco) regularly put their bird photos there and our clients post their photos and comments from past trips.

Bi-weekly Newsletter

I am consciously making this newsletter short. Hopefully, I shall be able to post every two weeks from now on although in a couple of days, you shall receive a more detailed summery of our other upcoming trips, as well as links to some of my most popular blogpost and the most interesting links I have shared on Facebook and Twitter that hopefully you find useful. See previous newsletter to get an idea what kind of stuff I am sharing.


Before, I sign off I’d like to emphasize how much I appreciate your comments. I truly believe that this space invites to communication and that we should take all the opportunity to listen to you. Please hit me back with comments on this content and what you would like to see here in the future.  Saludos  Gunnar.

Tawny Antpitta photo by Creative Commons license – Michael WOodruff
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So what is this then?

Possible Gray-headed Albatross. Photo Gunnar Engblom

Yesterday, we made an excellent pelagic from Lima. We thought we recorded three species of Albatross, but after reviewing some photos we discovered that two of the called Salvin’s Albatross were in fact Chatham Island Albatross. This is only the second third confirmed record from our Lima pelagics. Here are some photos on our Facebook page.

But what follows are four photos of an individual on the water that I had ID:ed tentatively as Black-browed as default, but I wonder if it could in fact be a Gray-headed Albatross. There has been cautionary notes about ID:ing Gray-headed Alabtross in tropical waters. Alvaro Jaramillo made a note about this fact in the Neotropical Birding article about the birds of the Humboldt Current. The species has been taken off the SACC approved Peru list, due to lack of tangible evidence.

On some of the earlier pelagic expeditions I did from 1998-2002, there are sight records put down as Grey-headed Albatross, but without photographic records and no detailed notes, it is impossible to give any verification of these records. I was not a very experienced seabirder then.

So humbly I present four photos that at least to me indicate some signs of  being a juvenile Gray-headed Albatross turning into immature plumage.

  • Smudgy gray head
  • very dark bill
  • on-start to collar
  • large black eyepatch
  • almost all black underwing

UPDATE: Turns out it was Black-browed Albatross after all. See comments below.

Possible Gray-headed Albatross. Photo Gunnar Engblom

Possible Gray-headed Albatross. Photo Gunnar Engblom

Possible Gray-headed Albatross. Photo Gunnar Engblom

Black-browed Albatross after all

I am very thankful for the comments supplied by Alvaro Jaramillo, Brian Patteson and Chris Robertson for the kind comments they have given.  Truth is that the literature is quite misleading when it comes to identify immature and juvenile Gray-headed Albatross and this is probably the reason why there are so many sight records without proper documentation.

Chris Robertson: You have a juvenile-sub adult Black browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys). The culmen and bill plates are definitive as are the eyebrow and neck collar.

Alvaro Jaramillo (Field Guides): This is a young Black-browed. Grey-headed will be much darker headed, with a restricted white throat and cheek area that stands out. They have all dark bills, not the bicolored darker tipped look of young Black-brows. Here is a photo of the northernmost confirmed record we have yet from Chile (Valparaiso).

Gray-headed Albatross juv. Valparaiso. Photo: Alvaro JaramilloGray-headed Albatross juv in flight. Photo: Alvaro Jaramillo

Brian Patteson: In these albatrosses, the bills start dark and lighten up, so juvies should have the darkest bills of all.  And when it comes to books about seabirds, they aren’t always right- even the new ones.  All of the young Gray-headeds I have seen had much darker heads.  Anyhow, here is one in a photo from Drake Pasage.

Gray-headed Albatross in flight. Drake Passage. Photo Brian Patteson.

Thanks Brian, Alvaro and Chris for comments and photos. The have made me little wiser.

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