Thursday 8 October 2015

Another Azores Gull

After finding what I considered to be an adult Azores Gull (Larus michahellis atlantis) at the fish harbour in Portimao, Portugal I have been very keen to find another. In 2014 I drew a blank, but during my latest trip to Portimao I scored again.

These are very distinctive gulls, so much so I picked both out with the naked eye. 

Third-winter Azores Gull
Third-winter Azores Gull

The tone of grey is very distinctive on its own, but add the dark hooded effect created by the dense head streaking and you have a very unique looking gull. In addition the short legs and the robust body help to distinguish these gulls from other species. Though I'm not qualified to suggest that Azores Gulls should be treated as a separate species, I do think that from an identification point of view that they have a good claim to be treated as a full species.

The Algarve is a 'melting pot' for Yellow-legged Gulls and a mine field for anyone delving into the subject. Most of the Yellow-legged Gulls around Portimao are of the type we associate with the Mediterranean: large brutes with squarish heads and the typical tone of grey. Amongst them are some that you think hold on a minute that one doesn't look quite right. However, go as far south and west as you can go on the European mainland and things get more difficult. On the harbour wall at Sagres was a whole gang of adult Yellow-legged Gulls that were smaller, less brutish and probably paler than the typical Yellow-legged Gull most of us are familiar with. This for me is an on going challenge.

Below is one of the less typical gulls Yellow-legged Gulls that can be found amongst the ordinary ones. It has a hood that catches the eye, but the grey tone is too pale for an L.m. atlantis

Yellow-legged Gull
Third-winter Azores Gull
Third-winter Azores Gull
Third-winter Azores Gull
Third-winter Azores Gull
For images of this gull and my previous Azores Gull on Flickr click HERE

Autumn in the Algarve

I have been away on my annual pilgrimage to the Algarve. The weather was fantastic, so was the local beverage - Sagres larger. Oh and the birding was excellent too.

It will take me a while to catch up due to loads of photographs to review and 104 gull colour-rings to process. As normal the harbour at Portimao was excellent for gulls as was the beach at Praia da Rocha. Elsewhere the birding was great and I managed to add some new birds to my Portuguese list. These included two Spanish Imperial Eagles, a Black Vulture and a smart Lesser Yellowlegs.

Below are some of the photos I've edited so far:

Black Vulture


Audouin's Gull

Juvenile Audouin's Gull

Balearic Shearwater

Cory's Shearwater

Sooty Shearwater

Great Shearwater