Many thanks for all the feedback and, yes, a wonderful shot of a Soft-plumaged
Petrel, Rohan. No disputing a dark undertail there! It's a shame if Onley and
Scofield refer to undertail coverts as undertail, especially as the Harrison
identification guide describes these features correctly. Wondering how they
would describe the undersides of tail feathers, I looked at a few other
species, such as Black-browed Albatross and Blue Petrel, but as far as I can
tell there was no mention of undertail or undertail coverts. Incidentally,
their illustrations of pale phase Soft-plumaged Petrels show only a hint of
pale grey on the undertail.
In the Harrison photographic guide, the Soft-plumaged Petrel shows broad white
outer undertail feathers and a white tip to the undertail, which is otherwise
pale grey. The White-headed Petrel appears to show a white tip to a pale grey
undertail. The photo of the White-headed Petrel that we've been discussing
appears to show a pale grey undertail. I'm not disputing the identity, I'm just
struggling to appreciate how definitive one can be when viewing the undertail
feathers shown in some photographs.
With regard to the Red or Great Knot, I'm also leaning to Jeff's Red Knot
suggestion. After recovering from the initial impression of long bill and dark
spotting, features such as size and jizz snap in. In fact, I "phoned a friend"
and he suggested that the "snouty look with a thick-based straight bill" were
good features for Red Knot. Great turn of phrase!
Maybe I should tackle Red v Great Knot for the next ID guide on my website? I
had thought it pretty straightforward but there are obviously a few pitfalls
Cheers - Trevor.
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