Seabird Group Seabird Group

Process for at sea identification in the feae-complex applied to a petrel observed off the Isles of Scilly

Robert L. Flood

14 Ennor Close, Old Town, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly TR21 0NL, UK.

Full paper


The feae-complex comprises the three taxa of petrel Cape Verde Fea's Pterodroma f. feae, Desertas Fea's P. f. desertae, and Zino's P. madeira, breeding on the Cape Verde Islands, Desertas Islands, and Madeira Island, respectively (Mathews 1934; Bourne 1983). At-sea identification (ID) of these three cryptic taxa is challenging. A petrel belonging to this complex was observed from a boat off the Isles of Scilly, SW England, on 16 August 2015. An excellent series of photographs document the sighting and key ones reproduced below permit detailed examination of the petrel's characteristics and assessment of its ID.


Many thanks to skipper Joe Pender for the many hundreds of times that we have taken to the sea off Scilly on MV Sapphire. Thanks to Jim Almond, Peter Moore, and Joe Pender for permitting me to incorporate their photographs in this article. Ashley Fisher prepared the scorecard.


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