We were already awash with an extraordinarily high number of Mottled Petrels during our second Sunshine Coast pelagic on November 5, when this Pterodoroma came in behind the boat about 40 nautical miles off Mooloolaba.
At first we identified it as a Gould's Petrel on the basis of its dark brown head contrasting with paler brown/greyish mantle - a feature of this species.
On examining his photographs later, Paul Walbridge formed the view that in fact the bird was a Stejneger's Petrel. When I saw the images, I readily agreed. The upperparts described above, combined with the underwing pattern and the small half-collar behind the eye leave not much doubt that we have here the first Australian record of Stejneger's Petrel. Note the very white underwing with narrow black edging, with the short diagonal stripe at the carpal joint, which is shorter that of Pycroft's Petrel. Pycroft's also does not share the contrasting plumage of the upperparts that Stejneger's, a very closely related taxa, has.
Photo - Brian Russell
Stejneger's Petrel breeds on islands off the coast of Chile. There have been several beach-washed specimens of the species in New Zealand so it has long been expected in Australia.
This caps off a brilliant pelagic trip, with other birds on the day including Mottled Petrel, Black-bellied Storm-Petrel, Tahiti Petrel and Red-footed Booby, see here: http://sunshinecoastbirds.blogspot.com/2011/11/sunshine-coast-november-pelagic.html