Friday 30 November 2012

Waterloo gulls

I've been searching for gull flocks in the county over the past few weeks hoping to find some white-winged gulls. I was unsuccessful until last Tuesday.

The first one I found was this 1st winter Iceland Gull:

I identified it as an Iceland Gull due to the pale primaries, small bill (this picture makes it look larger than it actually was) and pale upperparts. The all dark bill, lack of grey on the mantle, and somewhat checkered upperparts helped age this bird.

There was one other bird that I came across that stood out:

I first saw this bird flying next to the Iceland Gull and noticed the overall pale plumage and pale primaries - so at first I thought it was another Iceland Gull.
Once it landed, I noticed a few things that were off for Iceland Gull: dark primaries (too dark for a white-winged gull, but too pale for a Herring Gull), it was slightly larger than the nearby Herring Gulls (Iceland Gull should be smaller), and the bill seemed too large for Iceland Gull.

My next guess was Glaucous Gull which was easily ruled out because of the darkish primaries (Glaucous Gull has white primaries) as well as the head shape.

Next guess was Herring Gull. But it was much paler than the other Herring Gulls that it was standing next to. The primaries were much too pale, and they also have pale tips:

The bi-coloured bill and pale eye could fit for a 2nd winter Herring Gull; however, they also fit for a Glaucous Gull of the same age. There is a pale tip to the bill which is more typical of Glaucous Gull:

In this photo the bird is facing away from us, with a 1st winter Herring Gull in the foreground. Note the relatively dark primaries of the Herring Gull:

In flight, this bird was obviously much paler than any of the immature Herring Gulls. It also appeared to have very pale primaries on the underside.

My conclusion is that this was a 2nd winter Glaucous x Herring Gull (a.k.a Nelson's Gull) because it shows characteristics intermediate between both species.

Let me know what you think!