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The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771 [Volume One]

February 1769

February 1769

1. Calm this morn: went out in the boat and Killd Diomedea antarctica4 Procellaria antarctica5 and turtur.6 Diomedœa antarctica the Black billd albatross is much like the common but differs from him in being scarce half as large and having a bill intirely black. Procellaria lugens the Southern shear water differs from the common one in being less and darker colourd on the back, but is easily

4 The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Phoebetria palpebrata (Forst.). Parkinson's drawing of this bird was made on this date (I, pl. 26).

5 This MS name of Banks's appears to have been used for the bird he referred to also as P. lugens, which we have identified as Pterodroma inexpectata (Forster). Parkinson's drawing, dated 1 February 1769, (I, pl. 21), of what is probably this species, has Procellaria antarctica written on the back, but antarctica is crossed through and lugens written above it. Banks's actual note on P. lugens is doubtfully applicable to P. inexpectata, inasmuch as that species does not fly heavily; on the other hand Murphy has shown (American Museum Novitates, 1580, 1952, p. 6) that the underwing pattern of the species could be interpreted in the way Banks described.

6 Parkinson's unfinished, dated drawing (I, pl. 15) of this specimen probably represents the Slender-billed Whale bird, Pachyptila belcheri (Mathews). Flocks of countless thousands of these and other whale birds are one of the most remarkable sights to be seen in those areas of the southern occans that are rich in the plankton on which the birds feed. In this group of petrels there is a series of lamellae within the bill which acts in rather the same way as the baleen within the mouth of a whale and enables them to skin the organisms on which they live from the surface layers of the sea—hence their popular name.

page 232 distinguishd by his flight which is heavy, and two fascia or streaks of white under his wings which are very conspicuous when he flies. Procellaria turtur Mother Careys dove is of the peteril kind about the size of a barbary dove, of a light silvery blue upon the back which shines beautifully as he flies which he does very swiftly keeping generaly near the surface of the water; more or less of these birds have been seen very often since we left the lat. of Fauklands Island where in a gale of wind we saw immense quantities of them.

2. This morn calm and Foggy much like the weather on the Banks of Newfoundland; after dinner went in the boat and shot Procellaria fuliginosa,1 Turtur, gigantea2 and Fregata.3 I saw also a small bird not larger than a blackbird who flew quick flapping his wings like a partridge, but was not able to get a shot at him, probably he was of the alca tribe.4

3. Calm again: went out and shoot Diomedœa Exulans Albatross or Alcatrace, differing from those seen to the Northward of Streights of La Maire in being much larger and often quite white on the back between the wings, tho certainly the same species;5 Diomedœa antarctica Lesser black billd Albatross;6 diomedœa profuga Lesser Albatross with a party colourd bill, differing from the last in few things except the bill the upper and under sides of which were yellow and between them black;7 and Procellaria vagabunda.8 Therm. 41.

4. Blew brisk today, made some northing and westing; we now began to account ourselves certainly past the cape and the Captain (as in his orders was recommended) resolvd to stand as far to the westward as the winds will allow him to do. Two crabs were taken today in the cloaths that hang overboard to tow.9

1 Procellaria aequinoctialis Linn., the Cape Hen; Solander's description (p. 77) and Parkinson's drawing (I, pl. 19) of this species bear this date. Cf. 26 December 1768.

2 Macronectes gigantea (Gm.), the Giant Petrel; cf. 22 December 1768.

3 Fregetta grallaria (Vieill.), the White-bellied Storm Petrel; cf. 22 December 1768.

4 This would have been a diving-petrel; cf. 10 January 1769.

5 This Wandering Albatross was described by Solander, p. 5, and although its wing-span was 10 ft 1 in. he shows clearly that it was an immature bird; Banks's remark about there being larger and whiter specimens here seems to be a generalization.

6 The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross; cf. 27 January 1769.

7 Diomedea chrysostoma Forster, the Grey-headed Albatross. The details of Parkinson's sketch of this bird (I, pl. 27) and of Solander's account (pp. 11–12) suggest that this was an immature bird: it was identified by Sharpe (History of the Collections, II, p. 176, 1906) as D. chlororhynchos, but that species has not been recorded from the west coast of South America nor from the Eastern Pacific. Banks's MS is not quite clear here: it seems that his remark about a ‘Lesser Albatross differing from the last in but few things except the bill’, may concern a second specimen which, according to his note on the colour of the bill, was a mature bird. Solander, however, described only immature specimens, including one captured twelve days later which Banks does not record.

8 The White-headed Petrel, Pterodroma lessonii (Garnot). Solander, p. 95.

9 These crabs are unidentifiable; no drawings or descriptions seem to relate to them.

page 233

I had been unwell these three or four days and today was obligd to keep the Cabbin with a bilious attack, which tho quite slight alarmd me a good deal, as Captn Wallis had in the Streights of Magellan such an attack which he never got the better of throughout the whole voyage.

5. All but calm today: myself a little better than yesterday, well enough to eat part of the Albatrosses shot on the third, which were so good that every body commended and Eat heartily of them tho there was fresh pork upon the table. The way of dressing them is thus: Skin them over night and soak their carcases in Salt water till morn, then parboil them and throw away the water, then stew them well with very little water and when sufficiently tender serve them up with Savoury sauce.

6. Foul wind, myself something better.

7. Myself better again, in the evening ship made a little westing.

8. Fair wind, blew fresh.

9. Blew fresh all last night which has given us a good deal of westing. This morn some sea weed floated past the ship and my servant declares that he saw a large beetle fly over her: I do not beleive he would deceive me and he certainly knows what a beetle is, as he has these 3 years been often employd in taking them for me.1

10. During all last night the ship has pitchd very much so that there has been no sleeping for land men. Today misty with little wind.

11. Fair wind, stand to the westward.

12. Foul wind, but prodigious fine weather and smooth water makes amends to us at least.

13. Wind still Foul and blew fresh, at night a little mended.

14. Wind South, water soon became smooth, at night little wind.

15. Calm this morn: went in the boat and killd Procellaria velox2

1 Presumably Banks here refers to Peter Briscoe, who was with him in Newfoundland, rather than the younger James Roberts.

2 One of the small grey and white gadfly petrels of the subgenus Cookilaria (cf. Falla, Emu, 1942, p. 111) since this is the only group of the genus Plerodroma (Bulweria) characterized by the blue feet mentioned as a diagnostic character by Solander. His notes suggest (p. 68) that he may have examined and classified together under this name specimens of up to eight of the members of this group, but the specimen under consideration, which was figured by Parkinson, I, pl. 16, must belong to one of the two species exploiting this zone of surface water, Plerodroma cookii or P. longirostris, and very probably to one of the two races nesting nearby at Juan Fernandez, P. cookii defilippiana (Gigl. and Salvad.) or P. longirostris longirostris (Stejneger). The drawing shows the short bill typical of longirostris so that the name Procellaria velox, which was restricted by Mathews to this specimen (Birds of Australia, 1912, p. 170) must be regarded as a synonym of Aestralata longirostris, Stejneger 1893. (Dr W. R. P. Bourne, personal communication.)

page 234 Nectris munda1 and fuliginosa,2 which two last are a new genus between Procellaria and Diomedea: this we reckon a great acquisition to our bird collection. My stay out today was much shortned by a breeze of wind which brought me aboard by 11 o clock and before night blew very fresh.

16. All last night and this morn it has blown very fresh, wind South, so that we have 3 reefs in the topsails for the first time since we left the streights of La Maire.

17. Blew fresh yet and wind stood, so we went well to the westward. In the evening more moderate; I ventur'd upon deck for the first time and saw several porpoises without any pinna dorsalis, black on the backs, under the belly and on the noses white;3 also a kind of Albatross different from any I have seen, he being black all over except the head and bill which were white.4

18. Fair weather, ship stood NW.

19. Went very slowly through the water tho pleasan[t]ly for the ship had scarcely any motion.

20. Wind still foul but very moderate and the ship almost without motion.

21. Still no swell from the west tho the ship had fresh way through the water. A bird not seen before attended the ship about the size of a pidgeon, black above and light colourd underneath, darting swiftly along the surface of the water in the same manner as I have observd the Nectris to do of which genus he is probably a species.5

22. This morn settled rain and scarce any wind, the whole evening small puffs of wind and rain and calms succeeded each other.

23. Calm: went out in the boat, shott Procellaria velox,6 fuliginosa7

1 Puffinus assimilis (Gould), the Little or Allied Shearwater. Parkinson I, pl. 24, Solander, pp. 115–16. This bird has been much discussed and notes on variation in the southern races are given by Bourne, Emu, 1959, p. 212.

2 Puffinus griseus (Gm.), the Sooty Shearwater or New Zealand Mutton-bird. Parkinson I, pl. 23, Solander, pp. 111–12. Both these drawings of ‘Nectris’ spp. are dated. Solander was the first to recognize the distinctive character of the shearwater bill, which for long was used to separate these birds from the other petrels.

3 The Right Whale Dolphin, Lissodelphis peroni (Lacépéde).

4 Perhaps the Giant Petrel, Macronectes giganteus, in which there are various colour phases. The Galapagos Albatross, Diomedea irrorata Salvin, has a whitish head and is otherwise dusky but it is unlikely to have been so far south.

5 A number of small petrels occur hereabouts; this note is not sufficient to identify the one Banks observed.

6 Pterodroma sp., one of the gadfly petrels. See 15 February 1769.

7 Procellaria aequinoctialis, the Cape Hen. Solander, p. 77. See also 2 February 1769.

page 235 and velificans.1 At night wind came to the east tho very little of it, it was however a matter of comfort to have any as we have not had the name of East in the wind since 31st of Janry.

24. At 12 last night the wind settled at NE; this morn found studding Sails set and the ship going at the rate of 7 knotts, no very usual thing with Mrs Endeavour.

25. Almost calm so that we trembled for the continuance of our east wind and soon after noon it left us; at night Rain and dirty weather wind N.

26. Blew fresh, before dinner handed2 all topsails. Albatrosses began to be much less plentifull than they have been. Lat. 41.8’.

27. Moderate and fine, the weather began to feel soft and comfortable like the spring in England.

28. Weather fine with a pleasant breeze. In the evening a great many Porpoises of a very large size came about the ship; they differ'd from any I have seen before in being very much larger, in having their back fins a great deall higher in proportion, and in every one having a white spot on each side of his face as large as the crown of a hat but of an oval shape.3

1 Dr W. R. P. Bourne in a personal communication has pointed out that Solander's description (pp. 93–4) of P. velificans agrees well with Pterodroma externa externa (Salvin), the White-necked Petrel, and that his suggestion that his specimen was like a large Procellaria mollis (from which it differs in the white underwing noted by him) is clearly diagnostic.

2 Furled. Cook is rather stronger in his language than Banks: ‘very strong gales and Squally with Showers of rain which at length brought us under our two courses and close reef'd Main topsail’.—I, p. 61.

3 Orcinus orca, the Killer Whale.