|Pseudobulweria||becki||PO||New Ireland and the Solomons|
Genus Pterodroma, Pseudobulweria and Aphrodroma are also knwon as the Gadfly Petrels. They vary in size from rather small birds such as the Cookilaria-species, measuring about 26 cm, to the much larger and robust representatives of this group like the White-headed Petrel with an overall length of about 43 cm. Their plumages also vary a great deal from species to species; from completely black to light grey mantles and pure white bellies, and with different color phases within species. One feature shared by all of them is the black bill of which the shape also shows much variation. Some species are extremely rare and restricted to a very limited area, other are abundant and wander widely or have unknown pelagic ranges.
The group of the Gadfly Petrels counts over 35 species, mainly from the Southern Hemisphere. There are three genera: Pterodroma with about 30 species, Pseudobulweria counting four and Aphrodroma with only one. Many authors have tried to classify the large number of species of this group and to determine their relationships. This has resulted in a division in several subgenera and the grouping of several species which are considered to have a more or less close relationship. The taxonomic discussion has not come to an end yet: new species have been added or split recently and probably will be in the near future.
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|size min.:||29||cm||size max.:||31||cm|
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Video Becks Petrel
copyright: Keith Blomerley
Until recently Pseudobulweria becki was only known from two specimens: a female taken at sea east of New Ireland and north of Buka, Papua New Guinea, on 6 January 1928, and a male taken north-east of Rendova, Solomon Islands, on 18 May 1929. Three birds probably of this species were seen off New Ireland in the Bismarck Archipelago in 2003 and in July and August 2007 an expedition recorded the species on seven days and at at least four localities off New Ireland, with at least 30 recorded in a day and a maximum of 16 together, finally confirming the species’s rediscovery. Cape St George, at the southern end of the island, appeared the most favoured locality, where birds outnumbered Tahiti Petrel P. rostrata, recently fledged juveniles and moulting adults were seen close to land, and a freshly dead fledgling was found8. In 2008 at least 11 were seen off Western Bougainville and Eastern New Ireland in April, and an expedition in July-August found a minimum of 160 birds between New Britain and New Ireland. It seems likely that the species breeds in the montane forests of southern New Ireland such as those around Mt Gilaut and the Hans Meyer range. Additionally a possible record was seen and photographed from a boat crossing the Coral Sea east of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in 2006, and due to the difficulty of reliable identification in the field a number of records of P. rostrata from the Solomons and Bismarck Archipelago, may also refer to P. becki. The extent of its breeding range and at-sea distribution is still unknown.