Wednesday 9 December 2020

Lusitanius Yellow-legged Gull at Shawell?

 I was at Shawell today and winter is definitely upon us judging by the large number of gulls using the site. There were some smart looking adult and near adult Caspian Gulls, but it was a Yellow-legged Gull that caught my eye. Having travelled to Iberia on many occasions, I am familiar with the subspecies L. m. lusitanius. This subspecies frequents the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula. In The Basque Country the Yellow-legged Gulls are quite distinctive and are sometimes thought to be closer related to Herring Gull than Yellow-legged Gull. Today an adult Yellow-legged Gull in the sandpit off Gibbet Lane really reminded me of this form. Without a colour-ring it is perhaps not possible to prove, but the head shape, fine head streaking and general body shape fit well. The Yellow-legged Gulls from the Basque Country are generally sedentary, but one ringed bird has been seen in England and I have seen a colour-ringed bird from there in the Algarve.

There are many difficult gulls to be seen at Shawell with yellow legs, but these don't fit Yellow-legged Gull (michahellis). Their primary patterns tend to give the game away, but this bird had the typical very black (dipped in ink) pattern of a Yellow-legged Gull. Herring Gulls with yellow legs are seen fairly regular at Shawell, but they are easily separated from today's bird. 

Putative lusitanius Yellow-legged Gull, Shawell

lusitanius Yellow-legged Gull, The Basque Country, November 2019

lusitanius Yellow-legged Gull, The Basque Country, November 2019

Another view of the bird at Shawell today.

I will finish off by saying anyone visiting Shawell should know that parking is even more limited now than before and even the viewing point can be blocked by plant vehicles. Please take care. If it gets too bad in the New Year news may have to be withheld.

Oh and here is a Caspian Gull from today...

Caspian Gull, Shawell December 9th 2020