'ARABIAN' Shearwaters in Bonapartes Gulf - CONGRATULATIONS

To: "BIRDING-AUS" <>, "Ecology Solutions" <>, "Chris Doughty" <>
Subject: 'ARABIAN' Shearwaters in Bonapartes Gulf - CONGRATULATIONS
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2010 13:37:27 +1100
Kimberley Birdwatching's annual trip to Ashmore Reef returned to Broome on Saturday so the earliest most of us arrived home was yesterday evening with the opportunity to view the photos of Arabian Shearwaters posted last week. Like the Peregrine Bird Tour group we also had an exceptionally successful trip and I will post a report later this week.

Having now seen the photographs we're gob-smacked. Those Shearwaters they saw are something special! They are not Hutton's Shearwaters - we had excellent views and obtained many photographs of 575 Hutton's in a variety of plumages just three days ago. None resembled those birds. So congratulations to Simon Mustoe, Chris Doughty and the others in that group on their discovery. What a find!

To us they do look basically like Arabian Shearwaters and are undoubtedly new to Australia. Moreover, they could be new to science as a separate taxon. With so many birds together who knows, there could be a population breeding somewhere in northern Australia or Indonesia. There are 3,000 islands in the Kimberley alone let alone the NT. That Audubon's, Tropical, Little Shearwater group is notorious for having small populations scattered over a wide area and there is no general consensus regarding their taxonomic relationships. Indeed, even modern texts suggest new breeding sites await discovery. So well done!

Mike Carter, Rohan Clarke & George Swann

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