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Pelagic from Paracas in April 1998
February 12, 2004
Gunnar Engblom

Mini Pelagic from Paracas. April 17, 1998

Kolibri Expeditions (this was posted originally on Neoorn. ) the comments that followed did not shed much light other than without photographs nothing can be said for certain. Records in parentesis must be regarded as hypothetic.

"Last Friday 17 th of April, I went on a semipelagic trip off the coast off Paracas, together with four British birders. According to our boatman the water temperatures have suddenly dropped from ca 27 degrees a few days/weeks ago to around 20. This means there has been a sudden influx of cold water. The birds and sealions are just returning to the area. There is an interesting mixture of vagrant northern and southern seabirds in our records below. Another thing that supports that life are coming back to the Peruvian coast was the abundance of cetaceans. We saw large schools of Common Dolphin and Bottle-nosed Dolphins as well as a c. 10 whales - possibly Brydeīs Whale small large ones. Unfortunately no literature handy for id

Here are the goodies. Since there are a few very odd records I would like comments. Also, maybe someone on the list could diffuse this message to Seabirds-L, for comments by expertise.

N=northern migrant. S=Southern Migrant. R=Usually resident or breeding in the area.

Humboldt Penguin Spheniscus humboldti R 5
Peruvian Diving Petrel Pelecanoides garnotti R 5
Cape Petrel Daption capense S 1
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus R 200
Pink-footed Shearwater Puffinus creatopus N 10
Waved Albatross Diomedea irrorata N 6
(Grey-headed Albatross Diomedea chrysostoma)? S 6. Lately I have had more experience with Albatrosses off the Peruvian coast. We can not exclude Salvinīs Alabtross, as none of us made any noting of the underside. As a matter of fact one month later I made another mini pelagic from Paracas and the shots I took of seabirds then show that the albatross then seen was Salvinīs and  not Grey-headed Albatross
(Northern Giant Fulmar Macronectes halli) S 1 - new for Peru. 1 juv bird seen very well with dark bill tip and all chocolate brown plumage. No whitish feathers at all in face area. Any chance of misidentification? Some photographs were taken though I have not seen them to date Nov 2001. The record should be regarded as hypothetical untill photographic proofs can be obtained.
Swallow-tailed Gull Creagrus furcatus N 10
Chilean Skua Catharacta chilensis S 8
(Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi) ?  S 2 - We are a bit reserved of this record since it is basically identified on negative features. We particularly saw one bird very well, which did not have the tawny color of the species above. Is it possible to identify to Antarctic Skua on the following field marks? Very dark chocolate color all over and no cap. Definitely not tawny/ginger on belly. Apart from the obvious white crescent in the wing it had a smaller less conspicuous one, but clearly seen. Virtually identical to Great Skua. Antarctic Skua has never been positively identified off the Peruvian coast as far as I know. It is not mentioned in Parkerīs checklist. - We had a more certain  record at close range in July 2001 identified on large size. Klaus Malling Olsen conclude pers comm that South Polar Skua C. maccormicki can also be dark chocolate brown, but that jizz  should be quite useful for its identification. Size of lonnbergi is much larger . 
Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus N 4
(Antarctic Petrel Thalassoica antarctica)   S 1 ?!!!!? We saw a bird that was gliding over the waves about 20 nautical miles from shore in a shearwater fashion. Observation distance ca 200 m It was clearly smaller than Sooty shearwater and larger than Audubonīs Shearwater. I saw it gliding sideways with its underside towards us. White below including wing undersides and a black head. All of a sudden it turned and much to our surprise it had a large white streak along the black wings. Its back appeared all black as its head. It did not have the mottled effect of a Cape Petrel and gave a very pied impression. Looking through our book Harrisonīs Seabirds as only reference there was only Antarctic Petrel possible. Way out of range and first for Peru we are of coarse a bit doubtful of this rather short observation. Some people of the party have considerably experience of Cape Petrel, including our boatman Julian who has 20 years of experience including trips with Ted Parker. All saying it was not a Cape Petrel. I am not a very avid seabirder I am afraid and have limited experience southern seabirds. None of our party had any experience of Antarctic Petrel. It would be nice to have more support to our observation in terms of other unusual records from Chile or elsewhere of the Antarctic seabirds coming this far north. I have limited access to newer literature than Harrisonīs "Seabirds" so comments would be appreciated."


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