Friday, 8 November 2013

Gulls - don't you just love 'em.........

5th November - I had seen a gull that I had assumed was a dark eyed adult Yellow-legged Gull coming into roost about a week earlier.  It seemed odd, though the light was too poor to get any proper detail.  This afternoon, the same bird appeared, so I was able to get some more detail and take some record shots.

It definitely has a dark iris - even in bright sunlight it looks dark brown.  The mantle is dark grey and looks too dark to be anything other than YLG.  It has dark primary coverts, so is not adult, but the tail is pure white and the tertials show no sign of immaturity, so either an advanced 3rd winter or possibly 4th winter bird.  The bare parts are quite washed out - the bill being pale yellow, quite long and with an obvious sub terminal bar, again a sign of immaturity; the legs very pale yellow, almost fleshy in some lights.  The primary tips looked extensively black, typical of YLG to my eyes, with just a single largish white mirror on P10.  I didn't manage to get a shot of the open wing, but this is how it seemed to me on a few brief flights.  The top of the crown shows some faint streaking, again not unreasonable for YLG.

All in all, it adds up to being a 3w/4w dark eyed Yellow-legged Gull, but it still seems slightly odd - the small dark eye in particular being quite strange for a YLG of this age (though not unheard of).  The diluted pale bare parts seem a bit odd on a YLG of this age, but immaturity could account for this.

In some shots, it gives some structural resemblance to Caspian - small head, small dark eye, fairly long and parallel sided bill, but I don't think it is this species.  My gut feeling is a YLG, but it still seems a bit odd and I wouldn't be surprised if it had some other genes present, though equally it could just be an odd pure YLG.

What do you think?

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