Mystery large petrels off Yorke Peninsular, SA

Subject: Mystery large petrels off Yorke Peninsular, SA
From: "Graham Etherington" <>
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2006 15:31:27 +1000
I'm putting the finishing touches to a trip report for
Lyndhurst/Flinders/Yorke Peninsular area that I intend to post on
Birding-AUS, but am trying to get some feedback on what the large
all-dark petrels were that I saw whilst seawatching off West Cape at
Innes National Park. My notes are below, so I was wondering if someone
might be experienced enough as to hazzard a guess as to the species.

"Whilst at Innes NP on the Yorke Peninsular, there was a good
SW wind blowing. I could see from the dunes 2/3's of the way along
West Cape Road that there were lots of Gannets passing by and I could
also see a Giant Petrel sp lingering off shore just north of the cape.
Anyway, I made my way back to the car, drove up to the cape and
started see watching. The Giant Petrel had moved on but there were
quite a few Fluttering Shearwaters moving through, plus another
species I'm not too sure on. I saw about 10 of them in half an hour,
usually with the shearwaters. Here are my notes...
All dark brown large petrel (dark brown with sun on, almost black
looking when cloudy). No white on the underwing. Wing span just over
half that of Gannet or twice that of Fluttering Shearwater. Pointed
wings and relatively long square-cut tail (long as in not really
short, not as long as Wedge-tailed Shearwater). MAY have had a pale
bill. Flight - during gliding/flapping flight, held carpal quite far
forward, in small-skua-like fashion. Usually made a few wing beats
followed by a shallow shear. Never gained much height during shear,
preferring to stay close to the water."

The birds certainly weren't Sooty or Short-tailed Shearwaters, so I
guess that leaves White-chinned or Great-winged Petrel, or
Fleshy-footed Shearwater?
Any suggestions which ones might be likely to be fairly common this
close inshore?
Many thanks,

Graham Etherington
Queensland, Australia

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