Advice on identifying Albatrosses from shore

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Advice on identifying Albatrosses from shore
From: "Peter Shute" <>
Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2008 13:04:58 +1000
Doesn't sound very promising or inviting, Tony.

I often see sea watch reports here from people who have been observing
at Maroubra.  Would some of the people who submit those reports like to
comment on this subject?  Specifically:
- Did you learn your id skills on pelagics trips?
- What percentage of the birds you id from that location are you unable
to id?
- How close in are these birds coming?
- What optics are you using to see what you see, what magnifications,
- Is there something special about Maroubra that brings them closer?
- Are there other spots just as good?  How about in Victoria?

Peter Shute

 wrote on Friday, 27 June 2008 9:31 AM:

> Dear David, most of us are stumped by seabirds. The only way
> through the problem is to go on pelagic trips, get sick, then
> listen to what other people, who allege to know what they are
> talking about,  identify the passing birds as . You then go
> home with a list of sightings which you hope have some
> credibility. But you won't be much the wiser, especially on
> some of the more difficult species.
> Tough ain't it.   Tony.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: 
>  On Behalf Of David Adams
> Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 5:29 PM
> To: Birding-Aus
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Advice on identifying Albatrosses from shore
> I'm writing in to ask for some advice on learning more about
> identifying Albatross from shore. I really never go on pelagics (too
> disorganized) so I haven't made a lot of progress. For years
> I've been staring off of headlands at large seabirds with
> binoculars wondering "are those Albatross or are they
> immature Gannets?" I bought a scope last year with a 20-60x
> zoom and have it mounted on a swivel head so that I can track
> birds in flight. I went out to Blue Point (Bermagui, Far
> South Coast NSW) this morning and end up staring at distant
> birds wondering "are those Albatross or are they immature
> Gannets?" ;-) Actually, with the scope I can tell that some
> of them aren't Gannets...but I have little idea how to go
> about sorting out which species they may be.
> I've had a look at the SOSSA (Southern Ocean Seabird Study
> Association) site which is a good start but am looking for
> more advice or references. (The month-by-month guide at SOSSA
> is very helpful, by the way.) I have lots of bird field
> guides but none devoted specifically to seabirds. Is there
> something I should be getting? Andrew Isles sent along a note
> just today that there's a new book out on the subject of
> albatrosses but it doesn't sound like a field guide.
> I regularly see reports on this list from people confidently
> identifying various sorts of Albatross they've spotted from
> shore so there must be a way to do it. Are there headlands
> where the birds come in close enough for clear identification
> or are there a series of distinguishing marks that let you
> sort out the species by process of elimination or some other
> means? Size is basically useless as a field characteristic
> for distant birds over water and some of the other field
> marks would require a close view (color of the bill, color of
> the tip of the bill, color behind the eye, etc.) so I'm a bit stumped.
> Suggestions much appreciated! I suspect others may have the
> same question I do so please post back answers to the list,
> if possible.

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