Tuesday 22 September 2015

First year Caspian Gull

The timing of my arrival at Shawell mid-week was spot on. I always enjoy it if I get the opportunity to time my lunch break to co-incide with me being near Shawell. This week a massive wave of gulls came rolling in from the nearby landfill site just as I arrived. At least 18 Yellow-legged Gulls pitched down amongst the 1000+ gulls. However, the icing on the cake was what appeared to be a first year Caspian Gull.

The main stand out features are its very long and flat backed profile and its white head. It has already replaced its mantle and scapulars feathers with pale grey ones with faint dark markings. The black marks on the same feathers on the young YLGs are much more distinctive. Its coverts are brown with very little else apart from pale edges. Its tertials are typical for this species showing the white 'finger nail' pattern at the tips.

Its bill is not exceptionally long or thin, but this is typical of this age. Once the feathers near the bill start to wear the bill should take on a longer appearance.its head doesn't look that small, but it is probably OK.

It is possible that this is an odd michahellis, but the overall impression on the day that it was more likely to be a cachinnans. This is based on its long winged flat backed profile; the subtle marked grey mantle; its white head and the tertial pattern. 

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