Seabirds page 1                    Seabirds 2                   seabirds page 4                       back to ECO

Pterodroma macroptera
GREY-FACED PETREL, Pterodroma macroptera

Grey-faced petrels are a petrel that nests local, they are a winter nester in burrows high on islands. A dark brown petrel with a smudge of pale grey around the base of a quite heavy, short hooked bill. They are a strong fast flier that rarely approaches a boat, they are the predominant dark petrel here in winter, they then start to move south in spring with a few present through summer. Those are probably young birds which leave the nest from November to January.

Pterodroma cooki


A small petrel which arrives here in the warmest months, plumage is similar to Bullers shearwater with a black W across the wings and back. They can be distinguished by their smaller size, a flash of white on the face and their fast wheeling flight. They will occasionally come to a boat to pick up scraps but will rarely alight. Breeding is mostly on Little Barrier Island above 1000 ft eggs are laid in November with the young flying in March and April.

Pelagodroma marina

When you see these small frail looking birds skipping over the sea you wonder how they survive the storms of the open ocean, but survive they do as these dainty little birds arrive here every spring. They are the only storm petrel which is at all common here, their white underside and flash of white on the face identifies them. I have never seen one sitting on the water but they will pick up scraps behind the boat although they don't come very close. Nesting is in burrows on islands from the Three Kings to the sub-antarctic, eggs are laid in October with the young flying in February.

Puffinus tenuirostris
Tasmanian muttonbird

I took this photo in December 1999, it's the first time I've seen short-tailed shearwaters here. I saw them on two consecutive days probably 6 birds in all, I have now seen them on several other occasions. They are an aggressive bird which is very keen to come to the boat and feed. The species is mainly restricted to southern Australian waters with the main concentrations being around Bass Strait with a few straying to NZ in the summer.



Grey headed molly January 2004

These birds are not common here but in early winter 2000 we saw them on several days. The bird in the top photo landed by the boat and accepted fish scraps. They have a circumpolar range and breed in conjunction with Black-browed Mollymawks laying in October with the young leaving the nest in March.

The only albatross seen in New Zealand which has entirely dark plumage. A very rare visitor around the East Cape. I have only seen four to date, two of which flew around the boat on the 28th of May 2000. They breed on the Auckland, Antipodes, Macquarie and Campbell Islands laying in October with the young flying in March or April.


Oceanites ocenictus


These small black storm petrels with their white rump patch are quite uncommon here we usually only see a few in spring and autumn when they pass heading south and back north again. Breeds in the Antarctic in summer.



Prions are a common winter bird here but being able to pick which species is beyond my experience. I suspect we see at least two species.

Arctic skua, light phase

Stercorarius parasiticus

Arctic skua, light phaseArctic skua, light phase

These skua's are quite uncommon around Tolaga Bay the bird in the photo was chasing white fronted terns and huttons shearwaters right in the bay.


Seabirds page 1               Seabirds 2                   seabirds page 4                        back to ECO