Monday, 16 June 2014

The Tubenose Handbook - Great Shearwater

16th June 2014 - Topsham

Here's one I made earlier: this is a recently painted plate from the 'Tubenose Handbook' - by Hadoram Shirihai and Vincent Bretagnolle, and illustrated by yours truly (still can't quite believe my luck to be working on this project). Occasionally I find myself working on a species I think I know fairly well, back in the late 80's and early 90's I had many good days at Porthgwarra watching big passages of Great and Cory's Shearwaters. Having said that, it's only after sorting through hundreds of photos that I really appreciate just how variable Great Shearwater is and that juveniles are often identifiable.

Great Shearwaters - underside variation

And here's the whole plate - with provisional captions and before corrections.

Great and Cape Verde Shearwaters

In the book this plate will be faced by one showing Cory's and Scopoli's Shearwaters.


  1. Excellent plate Tim, let's hope we see some of these magnificent birds this summer off Devon! Any idea when the 'Tubenose protect handbook' will be available?

    Mark D

  2. Thanks Mark, presume Great's fairly likely somewhere at least, but Cape Verde would be spectacular! As for publishing date, afraid it's a little way off yet - I haven't completed half the plates yet and Hadoram and Vincent still have a lot of research to do.

  3. Hi Tim.
    How do you separate juveniles from adults in great shearwaters?

    1. Hi Paloma, juvs don't have a distinct white hind collar like adults (good close views required), the cap tends to be a paler brown and merges into a brownish hind neck; this holds during the first calendar year and is often still the case in second calendar year also. Moult is also a good guide, in spring (May-June) juvs (and some 2cy) are in fresh plumage whereas older birds are either quite worn or in moult. In autumn (July-Oct) juvs are becoming more worn and are never in wing moult, 2cy and older birds in primary moult, in fresh plumage by August/September.

      Hope this helps