Kermadec/Herald Petrel

Subject: Kermadec/Herald Petrel
From: Rod Gardner <>
Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 10:54:15 +1000
Greetings all,

On Tuesday, 1st December, a pterodroma passed Mistral Point, Maroubra,
Sydney, that was either a Kermadec Petrel or a Herald Petrel, close in and
seen well. Unfortunately this bird seems to have had characteristics of
both species, looking approximately like a light-intermediate Kermadec. It
had a pure white breast and belly, and Providence-like white patches on the
underside of the primaries, but whiter than that species. Above it was
uniform brown, perhaps a bit paler on the mantle, but with no discernible
I've checked with a couple of seabird experts, and their opinions are
divided. I'm tending towards Kermadec, the much more likely one, but the
most confusing point is that despite consciously looking, I couldn't see
any white on the upperwing primaries. The bird was flying into quite a
stiff south-easterly, with the wings sharply angled. I wonder if that could
have hidden the white? The underwing was Kermadec-like, except that there
was a palish line along the base of the secondaries (or greater coverts) -
more Herald-like, but the dark areas on the underwing were fairly uniform -
more Kermadec-like. The head was also a bit confusing, with the dark on the
head extending to just below the eye, and a pale loral area, white chin and
throat. It also had an incomplete breast band, somewhat reminiscent of a
young Black-browed. The tail appeared short, but in the 2-3 minutes I had
it in the scope, I didn't get a great look at the tail.
I've consulted HANZAB and Harrison and the usual fieldguides, but they've
not resolved it. Anyone got any suggestions of where else to look, or any
comments on the ID features? I have about four pages of fieldnotes in my

Rod Gardner

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