Category Archives: 04) Seabirds

Japanese Cormorant genes in Europe?

‘norvegicus’

Eh what? A third taxon has been mooted, suggested, put forward for NW Europe. It is genetically separate from carbo and sinensis and appears more closely related to the Japanese or Temminck’s Cormorant Phalocrocorax capillatus. It’s not ‘news’ though it managed to stay off my radar. Good ol’ Brett R. stirred the pot as we sat seawatching at Flamborough. Richard Millington as ever has been very helpfully added more detail. The Sound Approach crew mention it in this book. ( I wonder what norvegicus might sound like?).

The seminal paper is:

Marion & Le Gentil (2006): Ecological segregation and population structuring of the Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo in Europe, in relation to the recent introgression of continental and marine subspecies.
Cormorant at Gullfest- Vardo, Varanger, April 2012. It seems probable that the majority of Cormorants here will be 'norvegicus' more closely related to Japanese Cormorants than the other European taxa- carbo and sinensis.

Cormorant at Gullfest- Vardo, Varanger, April 2012. It seems probable that the majority of Cormorants here will be ‘norvegicus’ more closely related to Japanese Cormorants than the other European taxa- carbo and sinensis.

In a rather fascinating nutshell, whilst exploring the genetic makeup of Cormorants, Marion and Le Gentil discovered that a proportion of the population, especially in Arctic Norway appeared more closely  related to the Japanese or Temminck’s Cormorant.

They have named these birds, subspecies nova: norvegicus, explaining:

“…usual P. c. carbo formed two coastal populations, the real P. c. carbo ‘‘C’’ mainly in the western part of the range (United Kingdom, coastal France), and also in Norway and Sardinia, and ‘‘N’’, branched to the Japanese Cormorant P. capillatus and probably isolated by glaciations, mainly present in the Nordic range (Norway, but also on the coasts from Sweden to Brittany), we named P. c. norvegicus.”

 “We show the existence of a third group, N, an unexpected new subspecies (we propose to name P. c. norvegicus), mainly present in Norway and Brittany but also in Sweden, Denmark and The Netherlands, all regions near the sea (Fig.4). It is genetically separated from the Western population Cand appears more related to population S … and…to P. capillatus [Japanese Cormorant] ….”

Varanger is near the north-eastern end of the range of old ‘carbo’. It is by extrapolation from the Marion & Le Gentil paper likely to consist of 90% plus norvegicus. Is also represents the Cormorants nearest to the Northeast Passage and the Asian Pacific Rim where Japanese Cormorants could have colonised from.

I wondered if the genes of Japanese Cormorant in norvegicus translate to phenotypic characters. Japanese Cormorants have a carbo-shaped gular pouch angles and in a brief survey seem to have a higher proportion of white filoplumed birds than ‘western’ carbo in breeding dress  and more extensive white area behind the bare facial skin. The white filoplumes have a curious look in many Japanese Cormorants, tending to look longer and yet sparser in number, ‘wispy’.

So I dug out my few photos of cormorants in Varanger. Hmmm… interestingly they all had some white filoplumes and some seemed to have more white in the facial pattern than I expect for typical carbo.

It’s very preliminary, but rather fascinating :)

Varanger Cormorants (perhaps norvegicus) in March 2012 at Gullfest. 

Especially check out the amount of white in the head pattern. Not all had this much white. It would be interesting to see other photos of Cormorants from Varanger. Tormod Amundsen and Anders Mæland are already on the case.

cormy 5 vadso april 2012 cormy 4 vadso april 2012 cormy 3 vadso april 2012


and while exploring the subject, on my local patch:

Cormorants at Flamborough in early January 2015

image002image003

Above two photos. An interesting ‘carbo-jawed’ individual with some white filoplumes in early January. A norvegicus candidate?

image004

Above. A classic adult sinensis.

carbo boom leucistic cormorant s landing 5th jan 15Above: A rather stunning carbo-type Cormorant with either ‘leucism’ or ‘progressive greying’ (thanks Brett!)

 

Fea’s Petrel

‘nough said

Picked up by Andy Malley and  Brett Richards most of the ensemble at Flamborough were delighted. Thanks guys. I rushed off to find signal in the hope that those further north would score too. The resulting communications via social media and ‘twitches’ to watchpoints along the east coast meant the wheeling pterodroma was recorded at multiple sites by lots of people. A triumph for modern birding  and AT LAST a British record for me :) Photos skilfully phonescoped by Mark Newsome off Whitburn Fea's type Whitburn 210914 M Newsome

Happy chaps

 

flamborough 21 sept 14 feas

 

also rans:

2 Balearic Shearwaters, Long-tailed Skua, Blue Fulmar, nearly 300 Sooty Shearwater and an adult Sabine’s Gull nearby off Buckton. More on the Flamborough Bird Obs site

ble fulmar 21 9 14 sooty

Swinhoe’s Petrel – another much closer!

Off Lanzarote Pelagics

Got a lovely note from my Spanish friends who are always a great encouragement. They got  close Swinhoe’s Petrel coming in to the chum 2 days ago (12th September) in the Banco de la Concepción area, north of Lanzarote . Do you remember we had one though more distant and no photos, 2 years ago in the same area?

This one looks like it has a metal ring on. Notice too the flight shape- quite different to the hunkered attitude and angle wings of Leach’s Petrel. Beauty!

Interesting discussion on the bird and the ring HERE.

From Dani and Jose with photos by Juan Sagardia. Well done guys!

!cid_7F6C32F0-C2ED-4A7E-91C4-596D7178F6B4!cid_1AFB0FFE-29B4-4704-BE8D-442BFD2EDCCD!cid_FB70F69C-157B-436C-9F60-7DEE6A877656

 

 

 

Cory’s Shearwater variation

with Scopoli’s Shearwater bits

Chris Gibbins

I took pics of as many Cory’s Shearwater types as possible.  We saw one clear Scopoli’s Shearwater, and of course hundreds of Cory’s.  One (presumed) Cory’s was interesting as it matches what Steve Howell refers to  as ‘probably the maximum permissible tongues for Cory’s Shearwater– a clear but short  tongue on P10, plus others on 9 and 8.  He shows an example of such a bird off Cape Hatteras (USA- eastern Atlantic). The general impression was therefore very different to that seen on typical Cory’s. The structure to my eye is no different to Cory’s (within range showed by Cory’s), similarly so the  dark grizzled and rather brown head…  so an interesting bird. For example of Scopoli’s Shearwater in the same waters see HERE.

Normal Cory’s Shearwater:

Cory's Shearwater- showing pale 'tongues' in pattern of underside of primaries. Chris Gibbins, August 2014

Cory’s Shearwater- showing pale ‘tongues’ in pattern of underside of primaries. Chris Gibbins, August 2014

Cory's Shearwater- a typical underwing pattern. Chris Gibbins, August 2014

Cory’s Shearwater- a typical underwing pattern. Chris Gibbins, August 2014

 Cory’s with pale tongues in underwing:

Cory's Shearwater- showing pale 'tongues' in pattern of underside of primaries. Chris Gibbins, August 2014

Cory’s Shearwater- showing pale ‘tongues’ in pattern of underside of primaries. Chris Gibbins, August 2014

Cory's Shearwater- showing pale 'tongues' in pattern of underside of primaries. Chris Gibbins, August 2014

Cory’s Shearwater- showing pale ‘tongues’ in pattern of underside of primaries. Chris Gibbins, August 2014

Cory's Shearwater- showing pale 'tongues' in pattern of underside of primaries. Chris Gibbins, August 2014

Cory’s Shearwater- showing pale ‘tongues’ in pattern of underside of primaries. Chris Gibbins, August 2014

 

 

Lanzarote Pelagics, August 2014

Beautiful Seabirds

Chris Gibbins

Another stunning pelagic trip out on the Banco de la Concepcion saw Chris Gibbins catch up with stunning seabirds in sub tropical conditions. Here’s a selection. All photos taken mid-August 2014.

White-faced Storm petrels and Cory’s Shearwater with tricky Scopoli’s -like  characters to follow…

Bulwer's Petrel by Chris Gibbins

Bulwer’s Petrel by Chris Gibbins

Bulwer's Petrel by Chris Gibbins

Bulwer’s Petrel by Chris Gibbins

Cory's Shearwater by Chris Gibbins

Cory’s Shearwater by Chris Gibbins

Great Shearwater by Chris Gibbins

Great Shearwater by Chris Gibbins

Band-rumped Storm Petrel by Chris Gibbins

Band-rumped Storm Petrel by Chris Gibbins

Band-rumped Storm Petrel by Chris Gibbins

Band-rumped Storm Petrel by Chris Gibbins

 

 

 

Scopoli’s Shearwater Identification

Martin Garner

Hi- this is a reblogged post. Following this interesting bird (with Bob Flood’s helpful input) a few days ago off Scilly I am just putting this one back up. Have seen a few scary Scopoli’s and scary Cory’s but for another day if I ever dig out the photos. Here’s a more straightforward Scopoli’s Shearwater and one to look for with all this seabird weather in the southwest. Hope someone scores.

 

 They shouldn’t be called pelagics; they should be called ‘super pelagics!’ A species I haven’t mentioned yet, seen on the Lanzarote Pelagics at the end of June 2012 was Scopoli’s Shearwater. As if Wilson’s, Madeiran, Storm, White-faced and Bulwer’s Petrels wasn’t enough! I was fortunate to pick up a Scopoli’s candidate coming  into the chum. I yelled it out to Dani and we both did the only sensible thing: fire off a bunch of photos to see if the impression of ‘extra white’- would add up. Thankfully the bird hung around and we got nice repeat views, to compare with hundreds of Cory’s Shearwaters seen over the day.
   

Scopoli’s Shearwater

Here’s the bird, only the 2nd record in the Canaries. You can see the extra white extending as white fingers into the underside of the outer primaries. It also has only 1 dark spot on outermost greater under primary coverts. In the field it looked slimmer winged and paler/ greyer headed. It also had a more obvious dark ‘W’ across the upper wing. Have  a look and compare with the Cory’s further down. Scopoli’s Shearwater, N of Lanzarote, 30th June 2012. all photos Martin Garner

Cory’s Shearwater

With upwards of 600 Cory’s Shearwaters seen the same day- there was plenty of comparison. Here’s a few. Normally the border between underwing coverts and under side of primaries form a nice dark ‘scoop’. However some have  paler fingers (usually not on p10) giving some Cory’s ‘extra white’.  They have 2 dark spotted outer primary coverts where the Scopoli’s have one and the upperparts are more wholly dark, lacking a more distinct ‘W’. The right lighting is essential to see these things properly! Cory’s Shearwaters, N of Lanzarote, 30th June 2012. all photos Martin Garner …and huge thanks to the wonderful Dani and Juan, founders of the ‘super pelagics’. Will be back there soon. Bring it on!