Zino’s Petrel off Ireland


The utterly irrepressible Derek Charles -texted me a couple of day ago – fresh from a seawatch at Kilcummin Head, co. Mayo. It’s an all time favourite spot of mine – as it is of many others birders. Besides an impressive array of seabirds anyway – 4  birders had clear unequivocal views of a pterodroma Petrel whose characters favoured Zino’s Petrel much more than Fea’s. There is considerable experience amoungst the group of Fea’s from Ireland and abroad  – and well, I am absolutely delighted for them. I really wish I had been there! – and knowing some of the observers well enough very confident it’s entirely legitimate for them to claim they seem to have been watching a Zino’s Petrel  especially based on recent greater appreciation of their field appearance.

They deserve to celebrate!

Here’s their joint comment on it – written after pausing for thought and double checking of the literature.

“On Wednesday 15th September Derek Charles, Dave Suddaby, Dennis Weir and Brad Robson found a Feas “type” Petrel at Kilcummin Head in Mayo. The bird had a largely white underwing with a dark underwing covert bar and was a very striking individual. We watched the bird for around 5 minutes, at ‘mid-range’ and in good viewing conditions, confirming that the underwing feature noted was real and not an artefect of light. If you check the videos on Maderia Wind Birds “the first ever video of Zinos Petrel” this was a good match! Also check photos 54,59, 60 July 2010 Birding World Article page 266.
Based on current knowledge, this bird actually being a Zino’s ‘type’ rather than a Feas ‘type’ is, at least, a possibility. We want to alert other observers and interested parties to this exciting sighting.”

Derek, Dennis, Dave, Brad.

Soft-plumaged Petrel. South Atlantic. 17th March 2007. Ian Smith. This is not a Zino’s Petrel – obviously! It just seemed a good moment to put up this photos taken by Ian Smith. It caught my eye recently when reviewing his Hen Harrier photos at Spurn. (see here: http://birdingfrontiers.com/2010/09/15/orange-juvenile-harrier/)

With obvious grey breast band and that head pattern is clearly a ‘mollis’. It also has quite a lot of white in the auxiliary region (armpit if you like) and inner under wing coverts and actually has pretty obvious dark stipple barring along the flanks.

I am one of those who can’t see Graham Catleys pterodroma – photographed of Norway on July 13th 2009 as being anything other than a (southern ocean) Soft-plumaged Petrel – though I know not all agree! It’s here:


Anyway here’s another photo (thanks to Ian) to add to the data.

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