Possible Pacific / northrn Buller's Albatross off Eden

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Possible Pacific / northrn Buller's Albatross off Eden
From: "Simon Mustoe" <>
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 12:55:52 +1100
At the weekend I came across an odd-looking juvenile albatross. At first glance, I wondered if it was a Salvin's but closer inspection it became clear that it was not. The bird was small and the bill very slender, unlike Shy-type albatrosses. I've put two photos on the web for interest ( and As you can see in the image of the bird on the water, there is a hint of yellow about the bill - on the top of the culmen and the lower mandible - I have placed a colour-enhanced head shot at for reference. The size, shape and colour of the bill at least rules out anything but a Buller's. The head colour however is very dark for a juvenile Buller's and I am speculating as to whether, if this is not a Buller's in the early stage of moult whether it might be a Pacific / northern Buller's Albatross. The head colour was not smoky grey, as it would be in an adult northern Buller's, but instead a browny-grey, which I would think indicates immature rather than adult feathering. I cannot find any images of juveniles of this species that would indicate the head colour is darker than in northern Buller's but this may be the case. I am keen to find out if anyone can provide me with reference material or have any experience of this species / comments on my assessment.
Simon Mustoe.  
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