[texbirds] First documented record of Wilson's Storm-Petrel in Texas

  • From: Petra Hockey <phockey@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: TexBirds <texbirds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 12 Jun 2015 16:48:19 -0500

Texbirders,

yesterday my husband Ladd and I were invited to come along on an offshore
fishing trip. Under very rough conditions we made it about 25 miles out from
Port O'Connor and were drift fishing at a depth of about 110 feet when Ladd
noticed a storm-petrel approaching the boat so closely that it sometimes
disappeared out of view under the bow of the boat.

From my many years as a leader on Texas pelagic trips I am well familiar with
the most common storm-petrel in Texas waters, the Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, and
the less numerous but still regular Leach's Storm-Petrel. This bird looked like
neither of them. During several close approaches to the boat we could see the
very large white rump patch that wrapped around the sides to part of the
undertail coverts, the feet that were sticking out beyond the end of the tail
and the straight, not-bowed wings. It fed in typical Wilson's fashion while
letting the long legs hang down and dabbling the feet in/on the water. Despite
the pitching boat and spray I managed to get a few bad photos that, luckily,
were still diagnostic in the opinion of a few pelagic experts. Pending
acceptance by the TBRC this will finally bring the Wilson's Storm-Petrel on the
Texas list where it has long been overdue. Several sight records and one with a
photo that did not exclude Band-rumped have been in existence for years.

June is a great month for storm-petrels in the Gulf and the pelagic birding
community was very disappointed that the trip that was planned for tomorrow had
to be cancelled due to the rough weather forecast. But now our great organizer,
Gary Hodne, is putting 2 June trips on the list for 2016.

If you want to see the photos and read a bit more about the discovery and
details of the bird you can check out this link on the Texas Pelagics homepage:
http://texaspelagics.com/2015/06/12/tx-wisp/

Petra Hockey
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