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Seabirds in Pelagic and Coastal Habitat featuring Albatrosses, Shearwaters, Petrels, Penguins and Auks

This webpage and subpages feature seabirds photographed in pelagic and coast habitat:

(a) Albatrosses from the Diomedeidae family, petrels and shearwaters from the Procellariidae family both families are from the Procellariiformes order.

(b) Penguins from the Spheniscidae family, Sphenisciformes order.

(c) Auks from the Alcidae family, Charadriiformes order.


Seabirds are pelagic roaming the oceans far out at sea and only come to coastal areas to breed and raise their chicks – offering great photographic opportunities. The birds have adapted to life at sea and most are very clumsy when they come ashore to nest.

Because most seabirds are pelagic they have to drink salt-water, filter the excess salt from their bold streams using salt glands located in their head above the eyes and excrete excess salt from the nostrils, which then runs down the bill and drops off at the tip. Albatrosses and related sea birds such as shearwaters and petrels have pronounced tubular nostrils on either side of the top of their bill, therefore they are called Tubenoses making then instantly recognisable. Penguins have less pronounced nostrils; grooves guide excretions from the nostrils to the tip of the bill.

Albatrosses

Images of two New Zealand endemic and two native species of ICUN red listed albatross feature in the gallery. I photographed the endangered northern royal albatross at Taiaroa Head on the Otago Peninsula, the near threatened white-capped albatross and the other two vulnerable species in the seas off Kaikoura.

Image Highlights of Albatross Species, Procellariiformes order

Procellariiformes (Albatross), Diomedeidae:

Gibson’s Antipodean Albatross (Diomedea antipodensis gibsoni) [VU]

Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi) [EN]

White-capped Albatross (Thalassarche cauta) [NT]

Salvin's Albatross (Thalassarche salvini) [VU]

Shearwater and Petrels

Two shearwater species, a predated short-tailed shearwater photographed on Griffin Island in Australia and Manx shearwaters photographed at night on the Island of Skomer in Wales together with four species of petrel photographed off the coast of Kaikoura in New Zealand are featured. The Westland and white-chinned petrels are both red ICUN listed as vulnerable.

Image Highlights of Shearwater and Petrel Species, Procellariiformes order

Procellariidae (Petrels, Shearwaters) family

Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus)

Short-tailed Shearwater (Ardenna tenuirostris)

Northern Giant Petrel (Macronectes halli)

Westland Petrel (Procellaria westlandica)

White-chinned Petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis) [VU]

Cape Petrel (Daption capense) [VU]


Penguin

I photographed two endemic and one native penguin species along the coasts of New Zealand's South Island. The gallery features an ICUN red listed yellow-eye penguin photographed on the grass cliffs at Pipikaretu Beach, a vulnerable Fiordland Penguins on an island at the entrance to Doubtful Sound and a little penguin on the grassy slopes at Pilots Beach. The immature yellow-eye penguin was at Pilots Beach on the Otago Peninsula.

Image Highlights of Penguin Species, Sphenisciformes order

Spheniscidae (Penguin) family

Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) [EN], Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor)

and Fiordland Penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus) [VU]

Auks

The auks featured in the gallery are ocean going birds except when they come ashore to nest. In the 2015 the IUCN categorisation of the Atlantic puffin was raised from Least Concern to vulnerable and the razorbill to neat threaten. The puffin is one of my favourite birds. In the summer of 1993, 1994 and 1995 I made several trips to stay on the island of Skomer, which is just off the Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales, the images are from those visits.

Image Highlights of Auks, Charadriiformes order

Alcidae (Auks) family

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) [VU], Razorbill (Alca torda) [NT] and Guillemot (Cepphus grille)

Behaviour

When birds compete for a food they often exhibit threat behaviour or become aggressive providing great photo opportunities. The first three images show threat behaviour by northern giant petrel, Salvin's and white-capped albatrosses. The next two images show disputes between pairs of northern giant petrels and white-capped albatrosses.  Finally, the last two images show a feeding frenzy where a Westland petrel and antipodean albatross share the food until the Salvin's petrel moves in. The Westland petrel, being much smaller, makes a hasty retreat while the antipodean albatross stands its ground. The cape petrels seem to be waiting for a chance to steal some food..

Bird taxonomy

Bird taxonomy seems to be a moving feast and a coherent approach to identification and classification is difficult. The resources I use for include several authoritative websites and databases; these as referenced in taxonomic classification section on my wildlife web page.

Abbreviations

IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature

IUCN Red List Category: [CR] Critically Endangered, [EN] Endangered, [VU] Vulnerable, [NT] Near Threatened.

Antipodean Albatross (Diomedea antipodensis) in breeding plumage, Kaikoura, New Zealand, 2012 Salvin's Albatross (Thalassarche salvini) flying, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015 White-capped Albatross (Thalassarche cauta), flying, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2012 Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi), flying, Taiaroa head, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2012 Gibson’s Antipodean Albatross (Diomedea antipodensis gibsoni), on water, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015 Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi), on water, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2012 Salvin's Albatross (Thalassarche salvini) on water, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015 White-capped Albatross (Thalassarche cauta), flying, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015 Northern Giant Petrel (Macronectes halli), on water, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015 Westland Petrel (Procellaria westlandica), on water, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015 Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus), in breeding colony at night, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales Cape Petrel (Daption capense), on water, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015 Dead Short-tailed Shearwater (Ardenna tenuirostris), Griffiths Island, Victoria, Australia White-chinned Petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis), on water, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015 Immature Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), at water’s edge, Pilots Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2012 Fiordland Penguins (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus), on island at entrance to Doubtful Sound, Southland, New Zealand, 2015 Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor), at night climbing up from Pilots Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2015 Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), climbing up from Pipikaretu Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2015 Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), returning to the nest with sand-ells, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1993 Guillemot (Cepphus grille), High density nest colony, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1993 Pair Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), on look-out duties, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1993 Razorbill (Alca torda), Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1994 Salvin's Albatross (Thalassarche salvini), threat display, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015 Northern Giant Petrel (Macronectes halli), threat behaviour, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015 White-capped Albatross (Thalassarche cauta steadi), threat display, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2012 Two Northern Giant Petrel (Macronectes halli), Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015 White-capped Albatross (Thalassarche cauta steadi), threat display, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2012 Gibson's and Salvin's Albatrosses, threat behaviour, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015 Gibson's and Salvin's Albatrosses, Cape and Westland Petrels, Feeding Frenzy, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015 Hyperlink image showing Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi), Taiaroa head, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand Hyperlink image showing Cape Petrel (Daption capense), flying, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015 Hyperlink image showing Immature Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) Otago Peninsula, New Zealand Hyperlink image showing Cape Petrel (Daption capense), flying, Kaikoura Pelagic, New Zealand, 2015

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