Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

First record of a Northern Giant Petrel ashore on Gough Island

Although ACAP-listed Northern Giant Petrels Macronectes halli are regular non-breeding visitors to the inshore waters of the Tristan da Cunha group of islands in the South Atlantic up to now there has only been one record of a bird on land - seen on the rocky shore of Nightingale Island in 2007.

On 8 January 2012 Karen Bourgeois and Sylvain Dromzée photographed a Northern Giant Petrel among the breeding Southern Giant Petrels M. giganteus in the study colony below Low Hump on Gough Island.  They observed that the bird was nervous compared to the breeding Southerns "fleeing away as we tried to take some pictures".

This record is the first of a Northern Giant Petrel ashore on Gough Island, but is not overly surprising, given that Northern Giant Petrels have regularly been seen flying and on the sea surface from the island, where they have been observed to attack Northern Rockhopper Penguins Eudyptes moseleyi - as has already been reported for Nightingale Island in the Tristan Group by Peter Ryan and colleagues.

With thanks to Karen Bourgeois and Sylvain Dromzée for their observations and photographs.  Research on ACAP-listed seabirds on Gough is funded by the UK's Overseas Territories Environment Programme via the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.  Activities ashore are conducted with the approval of the Tristan Conservation Department and are supported logistically by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs.

Reference:

Ryan, P.G., Sommer, E. & Breytenbach, E. 2008.  Giant petrels Macronectes hunting Northern Rockhopper Penguins Eudyptes moseleyi at sea.  Ardea 96: 129-134.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 October 2012