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simonthetanner

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  1. These are older shots from a pelagic trip I did a few years back, off the Oregon coast in September. It is a shearwater, either Sooty or Short-Tailed; the former is abundant in the area, but our group had at least 2 SRTS on that trip. I'm submitting these here for ID help by others with more experience differentiating shearwater species. Image #1: What catches my eye about this bird is the steeply-slated forehead, rounded head, and short, stocky neck. I don't know what to make of the bill: Seems shorter and finer than that of most of the other SOSH I photographed that day, but I'm not sure it's short enough to support SRTS. Underwing coverts are a bit hard for me to evaluate, as the lighting is very dull. Sibley's notes that SRTS should show generally darker and more uniform coverts, and Howell & Zufelt emphasize the lack of contrast between primaries and coverts. This bird seems quite muted and generally consistent with SRTS, but I'm not confident enough with shearwaters to make an ID based on this. I don't see a pale chin on this individual Image #2: Taken almost 40 minutes later at the same general location. I'm not sure this shot is IDable, but it shows many similar features in body-shape. Any thoughts are welcome. I'm particularly interested in *how* to systematically work through IDing these. Thanks!
  2. Just had an interesting gull flyover on my walk this morning, and I need some help nailing down an ID. Odds are it's CA, but I'd like some confirmation from some gull gurus. I'm located in southern OR in Grants Pass, well inland from the coast and far from any large bodies of water. It was the briefest of flyovers, as it was just trying through and was probably driven over by the poor weather. We do not regularly have any gulls (except for a few RBGU in late March/April), so whatever this is it is an excellent bird for the county. It's a faded, younger bird, with plumage and head-shape generally matching a 1st winter CAGU; however, the beefy bill seems to fit HERG and my photos show a distinctly light eye on the bird. My impression in the field was that this was a rather large gull, and it was striking as it flew directly overhead and disappeared to the south. Any suggestions?
  3. I took the liberty of lightening the photo a bit. It's a juvenile Bald Eagle, based on the amount of white visible under the wings and on the tail.
  4. That is a *very* informative article, thank you. The scaup in the later case-study images seems to be a comparable example to the one here. So if I am following correctly, the argument for Lesser would be a somewhat shallow angle of the jowls meeting the head visible in the frontal shot? That's certainly a new field mark to me, but I can kind of see that now that I'm re-comparing to Sibley's scaup diagrams. What still confuses me when looking at those drawings though is how slender the depicted Lesser's head is compared to the Greater. Based simply on Sibley's and without considering the angles, I would have thought the head was too broad for Lesser. Is it fair to say that the Sibley's comparison is a bit exaggerated for emphasis?
  5. So I believe I found the same scaup again today, feeding oddly enough in a fly casting pond at the same park from a week ago. Conditions were better, and I was able to get a couple closer photos. A lot of things about this scaup are still inconclusive to me, but that head profile sure looks like greater and the bill is quite broad.
  6. It doesn't show on these shots, but it did have a black nail tip. It's obviously not an especially pronounced one, but it's there. I can look for a shot that shows it if it'd help.
  7. Yes, it was diving actively. I got these shots about a minute apart during a short (about five minute) break it took from diving, when it was meandering across the pond to rejoin the Lesser Scaup flock; but except for that, it spent most of its time under water. I was in the rain half an hour trying to decide what it was, but really only got that one opportunity to study it for more than a few seconds at a time. I'm actually relieved to know it's actually a legitimately challenging scaup, and not just me!
  8. Scaups are tough for me, and this one has had me waffling back and forth between greater and lesser for a week. This was taken in south-western OR a few days ago (Grants Pass area) at my favorite birding park. We get both Greaters and Lesser wintering here, though the former is usually outnumbered about 6-1 by the later and relatively uncommon. The ruffled "tuft" of feathering at the back of the heard should indicate Lesser, but the large bill and forehead shape just give me Greater vibes. There were about 6 Lessers there that were clear to ID, but this one has perplexed me. Anyone able to help me settle?
  9. Thank you for the insights here, everyone. I'm thinking the fulmar option makes the most sense, as we had hundreds of them on that trip and the stocky, short neck is a really good point. That would also fit the coloration under the wing. Also supporting that ID is the stiff, flat wing posture visible in some of the shots. The only thing that doesn't quite seem right to me is the bill — I can't judge the color well from these shots, but it does seem awfully slender for a fulmar and almost somewhat "hooked" at the tip (especially evident in the 4th shot). But it's really hard to judge details like that from such low quality images, and the overall shape/posture do fit fulmar very well. I'd go with that ID, unless anyone else spots something else. Thank you again to everyone for your help.
  10. I participated in a pelagic trip off the Oregon coast about a year ago; it was a whirlwind day, and I came home with hundreds of shots and almost 20 lifers. We had 5 species of shearwater on that trip: SOSH, BULS, PFSH, FFSH, and SRTS. I got decent photos of the first 4, but never found any clear shots of the SRTS. Recently I was going through my photo archive, and found a bird that looks like it might be a candidate for one of the 2 SRTS we had flying around that day. Unfortunately only the last shot was in focus, so IDing it requires working with the silhouette a bit. I'm not much of a pelagic guy, so I'm asking for help here. It seems to me to be either SOSH or SRTS, as the legs and bill appear full black. The underwing pattern does seem to resemble FFSH a bit, but otherwise I don't se any other field marks supporting that ID. The reason I am wondering if it is SRTS is because of the steep angle between the bill and forehead, the crooked/swept wings, and generally dull underwing coloration. Bill size is inconclusive to my eye but seems fairly short, but someone more familiar with shearwater silhouettes might be able to pick it out. I've attached a link to Google Drive with 4 shots. I have a couple other photos from the sequence, but I imagine these will be the most useful. The bird may not be IDable from my shots, but perhaps someone will be able to spot something I'm missing. Thanks much for your time and help. Shearwater 1 Google Drive Shearwater 2 Google Drive Shearwater 3 Google Drive Shearwater 4 Google Drive
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