Atlantic Fulmar reaches the Pacific?

What can we learn from this one?

Thanks to Nick for these intriguing photos. I am pretty sure these guys at Scilly Pelagics will have some thoughts. 🙂 Surely it’s a strong possibility that Atlantic Fulmars sometimes reach the Pacific- and it must be possible the other way round too!

Nick Hajdukovich

apparent 'Atlantic' Fulmar, Point Barrow, Alaska, 16th September 2015. Nick Hajdukovich/USFWS

Fulmar showing characters of ‘Atlantic’ Fulmar, Point Barrow, Alaska, 16th September 2015. Nick Hajdukovich/USFWS

“Martin,

I observed this Fulmar on 16 September 2015, northwest of Point Barrow (72 34.526, -161 12.527), Alaska, while conducting bird surveys for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This bird stuck out to me because a) it was the only fulmar that I had seen that day while conducting surveys in the area, b) it was a much darker color morph than any that I’d seen in recent days while in the Chukchi, c) the color of the bird was much more olive/blue-gray than the browner-gray dark morph birds I had seen in the northern Bering and southern Chukchi, and d) after reviewing photos I noticed that it had a relatively concolorous rump and tail, which from my limited knowledge, might suggest a non-Pacific subspecies of northern fulmar, such as F. g. glacialis.

After doing a little research on the matter it appears that there are indeed some Pacific birds that can show a concolorous rump/tail and I am not sure what other characteristics are indicative of an Atlantic bird, or if my photos are good enough to show that.

All the best,

Nick”

apparent 'Atlantic' Fulmar, Point Barrow, Alaska, 16th September 2015. Nick Hajdukovich/USFWS

Fulmar showing characters of  ‘Atlantic’ Fulmar, Point Barrow, Alaska, 16th September 2015. Nick Hajdukovich/USFWS

apparent 'Atlantic' Fulmar, Point Barrow, Alaska, 16th September 2015. Nick Hajdukovich/USFWS

Fulmar showing characters of  ‘Atlantic’ Fulmar, Point Barrow, Alaska, 16th September 2015. Nick Hajdukovich/USFWS

5 thoughts on “Atlantic Fulmar reaches the Pacific?

  1. Bob Flood

    A fascinating post Nick/Martin.

    In July this year 2015 we sailed from Dutch Harbour, Unalaska, to St Paul Island (Pribilofs), continuing to the rarely visited St Matthew and Hall Islands (including Pinnacle Rock), returning to St Paul Island via Zhemchug Canyon (c. 300 kms SW of St Matthew Island at 58ºN 174.5ºE). Very approximately 18–20,000 Pacific Fulmars were seen and the morph composition was noted.

    The mix of morphs at the Canyon is shown in this video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nmM-cSNRK0&index=28&list=PL9Ww5c5hOL6mP35kUKnVwuOxKkriI7WT9

    There are blue-gray (DD) birds, like Nick’s, as well as blackish-gray ones (DDD), and many light birds (intermediates were very scarce, we saw a few corking LLL). Darker tail/paler uppertail-covert contrast was seen on almost all birds (harder to see on the darkest birds), but would have been obvious if present on Nick’s bird. Lack of contrast is typical of Atlantic birds. So, was Nick’s bird an Atlantic Fulmar? Where do we go from here?

    A field mark we discovered a few years ago is that dark (blackish) nasal tubes are common on Atlantic Fulmar, especially darker birds, but rarely if ever occur on Pacific Fulmar. Many fulmars were checked during the Bering Sea expedition and none of them had dark nasal tubes. However, as far as I can see, the nasal tubes on Nick’s bird are not dark/blackish. If they were, along with the lack of said contrast, then alarm bells would scream.

    With excellent photos it is also worth assessing bill structure. The bill of Pacific birds is less robust & less blunt-ended, giving a more gull-like appearance to the front-end projection.

    Must go. Cahows are calling. But just to say well picked out Nick.

    Reply
    1. Martin Garner Post author

      Bob

      fab response- thanks I had an idea you had been in the area so to speak! your observations of tail pattern is of course of real interest to me too on the Pacific birds. All power as you keep on collecting the obs and data and keep on communicating it to the rest of us.

      Martin

      Reply
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