This afternoon I received this photo in my email from John Gibbons on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland.
Before I could even read the text in the email my eyes immediately jumped to the image and I instinctively identified it as a Mediterranean Gull - and knowing the significance of the species I immediately shared the photo widely.
I've since learned my lesson to be a little more careful and do my homework before starting the sirens.
The bird is in fact a Black-headed X Ring-billed Gull hybrid. Having had no experience with that combo I didn't even consider it as an option.
The reasons this bird is not a Med Gull include the lack of a jet black hood, the eye ring should have two breaks creating crescents similar to a Laughing or Franklin's Gull, and importantly, the primaries have more black than should be found on a Med Gull. In fact, a standing Med Gull should appear to have white primaries.
Here is the same bird in flight:
A very stunning bird. And I apologize to the many people I sent the false alarm to!
And for comparison purposes, I'm including a couple photos of a similar looking bird photographed at Stephenville Crossing in 2005 by Bruce Mactavish:
Hopefully these photos will help me avoid making this mistake again!
In any case, I'm still ready for our Mediterranean Gull to show up. The species is expanding into Northwestern Europe, and Iceland recently had its first record!