To: Ian Southey <>, Philip Griffin <>, birding-nz <>, birding-aus <>, Chris Gaskin <>, brent stephenson <>, Jeff Davies <>
From: Nikolas Haass <>
Date: Thu, 23 May 2013 03:21:08 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Ian et al.,

Congratulations! Yes, this is indeed very interesting and it would be very 
exciting if yet another storm-petrel taxon would be described. Let's hope that 
the next expedition will be successful at catching a few birds to obtain 
morphometric data and DNA samples. 

A few comments on the historic birds and some of the birds seen in Australian 
waters since 2010 (parts of the following text are copied and pasted from our 
discussions of the March 2010 Ulladulla and April 2010 Wollongong NZSPs. Both 
birds have been accepted by BARC, the Ulladulla bird with the caveat "Even 
though this record was accepted there is a real chance that this bird could be 
from an as yet unknown population or even a new taxon so should more 
information come to light in the future in this regard it may be necessary to 
re-open the case." Sic!): 

Some of the birds in Australia accepted as NZSPs by BARC (including the 
Ulladulla bird) did indeed show a different underwing pattern from 'classic' 
NZSPs resembling more that of a 'New Caledonia Storm-petrel'. We interpreted 
this as an unknown moult pattern of NZSP. Size was in most Australian cases 
difficult to judge (and there was quite some debate about the size). Jizz and 
behaviour, however, spoke in most cases against 'classic' BBSP or WBSP. 
Moreover, Stephenson et al. (2008) studied Black-bellied Storm-petrel skins in 
several museum collections and stated that 'no bird showed patterning remotely 
similar to the streaking seen in New Zealand Storm-petrel'. All Australian 
birds I have seen photographs of (including the two I have seen myself) did 
show an underpart pattern very similar to NZSP.

Historic 'Striped Storm-petrels':
"See STEPHENSON et al. (2008) for a fuller discussion of the taxonomic 
uncertainties that have confused the identity of five museum specimens that 
have been variably labelled as Thalassidroma lineata or Fregetta lineata or 
Pealea lineata. In summary, three of these specimens would appear to represent 
the type specimens of New Zealand Storm-petrel whilst the remaining two birds 
are a streaked White-bellied Storm-petrel collected off Huapu I. (Marquesas 
Is.) in 1922 and a streaked Black-bellied Storm-petrel collected from Upolu, 
Samoa in 1839. However, there is still considerable debate as to the true 
identity of the latter specimen but hopefully DNA analyses will help to solve 
this taxonomic riddle. Intriguingly, Murphy & Snyder (1952) note in their 
discussion of the 'Pealea phenomenon' (the development of variably streaked 
individuals in certain storm-petrel populations) is that Peale (1848) recorded 
T. lineata frequently in the torrid zone
 during the trip to Upolu and that natives on the island 'represented' that the 
bird bred high up in the mountains. However, there must be some doubt as to the 
identification of the birds Peale observed at sea and the gestured 
identifications made by the islanders due to the lack of quality binoculars or 
any cameras and problems in communication, respectively. Murphy and Snyder 
(1952) said as much by noting that 'both statements fit well with the 
distribution and habits of another petrel with which "Pealea" might readily be 
confused in the field, namely, Nesofregetta albigularis'."

In conclusion, at this point I think that it is more likely that 'New Caledonia 
Storm-petrel' is either a funny moult stage of NZSP or - more excitingly - a 
distinct, yet undescribed species (rather than an undescribed form of BBSP). 
Hopefully, future research will give us an answer.

I am surprised how far the white reached into the primary tips of the Collared 
Petrels and how similar the width of the black trailing edge was in Collared 
compared to Gould's Petrel. This makes these two field marks somewhere between 
very difficult to use and almost useless and could start the discussion again 
re the collared Gould's Petrels that frequently turn up in Australian waters.

IMBER (2008):
The New Zealand storm-petrel (Pealeornis maoriana Mathews, 1932): first live 
capture and species assessment of an
enigmatic seabird. Notornis 55: 191-206.
MURPHY, R.C. & J.P. SNYDER (1952): The "Pealea" phenomenon and other notes on 
storm petrels. American Museum Novitates 1506: 1-16.
HOWELL, S.N.G. & C. COLLINS (2008). A possible New Zealand Storm-petrel off New 
Caledonia, southwest Pacific. Birding World 21: 207-209


Nikolas Haass

Brisbane, QLD

 From: Ian Southey <>
To: Philip Griffin <>; birding-nz 
<>; birding-aus <> 
Sent: Saturday, May 18, 2013 6:19 AM

These storm petrels are pretty interesting and look
 to me like they might be a match for this bird collected in the 1840s,
 currently regarded as a colour morph of the Black-bellied Storm Petrel.
Finding numbers of them in the
 same place is reminiscent of the New Zealand Storm Petrel so they could 
actually be a distinct species. Good find and thanks for sharing.

> From: Philip Griffin <>
>To: birding-nz <>; birding-aus 
>Sent: Friday, 17 May 2013 6:49 AM
>Reposting here from Seabird News:
 eight-person expedition team, led by Peter Harrison, returned from seas
>south of Noumea, New
 Caledonia, last week after six days of off-shore
>seabird research. The team included Chris Gaskin, a leading figure in the
>rediscovery and subsequent ongoing research of the New Zealand Storm-Petrel
>whose breeding grounds he helped discover just a few weeks ago. The New
>Caledonian expedition team carried out 16 chum-drops over the six-day
>expedition period in waters ranging from 800 to 1685 metres deep. Included
>in the species photographs at the chum slicks was the mysterious
>storm-petrel originally unearthed during the recent West Pacific Odyssey
>voyages by Chris Collins, et al, and generally referred to as the New
>Caledonia Storm-Petrel.
>As yet not formally described, the unnamed storm-petrel was recorded on all
>six days of the expedition, with 21 sightings in total. The chum-slicks
>were deployed to entice the mysterious storm-petrel within range of
>same powerful air-powered, four-barrel net guns that had successfully
>captured the recently discovered Pincoya Storm-Petrel *Oceanites pincoyae*,
>in seas off Chile in 2011. The New Caledonia Storm-Petrel, however, proved
>much more difficult to entice within range of the net guns than the Pincoya
>Storm-Petrel. The guns were fired just twice over the six-day period, with
>the net narrowly missing the intended target on both occasions.****
>In appearance, the mysterious storm-petrel resembles the New Zealand
>Storm-Petrel but is larger, with proportionately longer wings and tail,
>different flight and feeding habits. Observations over the six-day period
>of the unnamed taxon suggest that it is a member of the *Frigata* genus and
>probably closely related to the New Zealand Storm-Petrel which also has
>prominently streaked underparts and white in the
>The New Caledonia seabird expedition was preceded by a week-long expedition
>by Harrison and his wife Shirley Metz to seas off the Solomon Islands where
>several thousand images of the near mythical Heinroth’s Shearwater *Puffinus
>heinrothi* were taken. Images from the Solomon Heinroth expedition and the
>New Caledonia expedition can be viewed at the Seattle-based Zegrahm
>Expeditions website(**<>
>Other species seen and photographed by Harrison during the past month in
>the West Pacific include Vanuatu and Beck’s petrels; Magnificent, Collared
>and Gould’s petrels; plus White-bellied
>Philip Griffin
>mobile +64 27 217 9911
>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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