Wednesday 6 July 2016

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls

July is the Yellow-legged Gull invasion month and the real prize is to find some smart looking juveniles. Already the adults and immatures are moving north. Several adults and second-calendar year birds are gracing the shores of Shawell A5 Lagoons at the moment and hopefully the first juvenile will arrive in the next few days.

The first juvenile gulls to fledge are the Yellow-legged Gulls. Away from known breeding sites of Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls, the first juveniles to be encountered locally should be Yellow-legged Gulls.

So if you spot a young gull whilst out birding during the next few weeks there's a good chance it may be a Yellow-legged Gull. First check that its wings are in good condition if you can. Any missing, worn or damaged primaries would most times rule out it being a juvenile. The plumage of any of the juvenile large gulls is smart, but Yellow-legged Gulls really are quite smart. There's a slight reddish tint to the plumage, which is usually quite distinctive. Just like the other age groups, their heads are large and squarish looking; pale coloured and an eye mask is usually obvious.

If trying to separate a young YLG from a LBBG look at the scapulars. They are almost always obviously much larger than those of a juvenile LBBG.

The tertials are most often brown with a pale edge, but beware some have notching on the feather edge like young Herring Gulls.

The photos below should hopefully help.

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull
Some more stuff on juvenile gull ID HERE

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