Saturday, 12 January 2013

Yellow-legged Gulls

I spent the day freezing at Shawell A5 Lagoons amongst thousands of gulls, although it was a little disappointing that no gulls from the arctic were prepared to share the cold with me. At least four  sun worshipping Yellow-legged Gulls were still present so it can't be that cold. Herring Gulls are the dominant species at present and many of the adults have attained clean white heads. This makes it harder to spot the scarcer species amongst them. 

The star bird of the day was a 1st-winter Yellow-legged Gull. The picture below doesn't fully do it justice as the grey mantle with the bold anchor marks was more distinctive. The head appeared whiter. The second picture shows a similar aged Herring Gull. The Herring Gull is browner overall; has browner tertials with faint notch markings rather than pale fringes and the bill is bi-coloured rather than black all over. 

1st-winter Yellow-legged Gull (top left)
1st-winter Herring Gull
Two adult Yellow-legged Gulls and a single 3rd-winter also put in an appearance.

3rd-winter Yellow-legged Gull
Above is the 3rd-winter that showed up mid-afternoon. Note the darker grey of the mantle compared to the Herring Gulls, the squarer head shape and the dark around the eye against the white. This was a stand out bird, which I aged as a 3rd-winter due to the amount of adult like feathers. It still retains some  immature tertial feathers with the dark centres.

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