Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Shyish Albatross

On Sunday's Port Fairy pelagic trip I also photographed this bird that looks different from the nominate race of the Shy Albatross (or species depending on which side of the discussion re race or separate species you subscribe to). It's obviously an immature bird but the grey hood suggests to me Salvin's Albatross Thalassarche (cauta) salvini but I am not familiar enough with this race or with variations in immature Shy Albatross Thalassarche (cauta) cauta.

any ideas welcome...
(click on an image for larger view)

UPDATE (31 Oct 2012):
The general consensus of opinion (thank-you to all those who emailed me) seems to be that this is either a Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta) or  White-capped Albatross (Thalassarche steadi) with most suggesting that it is difficult to distinguish between them, particularly in immature birds, but there's a leaning towards T. steadi so I'm labelling this post that way for the moment. I am happy to take further suggestions/advice and will update this post accordingly if I get further evidence/argument to change this position.


  1. Off Lorne in January 2008 and again last evening my son, now fifteen has noticed what he concluded were albatrosses fishing a few hundred meters off shore. I told him that it was unlikely that he would be seeing albatrosses from the balcony of our apartment. We come every year and I have waited five years for this repeat sighting. They have a large wingspan, black tipped, pure white otherwise, with no dark feathers elsewhere on the wing that would fit with the shy albatross. They seemed to us in our ignorance to be Southern Royal Albatrosess. Each time there were five of them, rising on thermals and diving for the kill. In 2008 we watched them from 1300-1930 before we were forced in to dinner. Last evening we saw them only after 8pm, the setting sun behind us, and my son seeing them with the naked eye again from our balcony. What do you think?

    1. Hi,

      From your description, these sound like Australasian Gannet., which are reasonably common along the coast. They make a spectacular site diving into the water from heights of 10 m or more, at the last split second, folding their wings back and plunging arrow-like into the water.

      Cheers, Ian


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