Saturday, 18 February 2012

Valentine's Gull

Most Lesser Black-backed Gulls reported from Northumberland in February are adults, generally there are at most a couple of handfuls of wintering birds in the county with the possibility of some northbound returning individuals towards the end of the month. We don't get to see too many in February and few are in immature plumages.
I came across this individual on Valentine's Day, a 1st-winter (2CY) that was sat tight on the ground for a long period before it showed a little better; to be honest first impressions on the ground had me thinking dark argentatus Herring Gull. Most 1st-winter LBBG don't appear as dark as this individual this late in the winter ( or at least those that I've seen in Spain and in literature/images don't) but after some head-scratching I think this is probably a better fit for Lesser Black-backed Gull than the alternatives. The greater coverts don't appear typical for most LBBG but other features seem to fit, black tail band, white rump and undertail coverts with large sparse dark spots; blackish-centred mainly plain tertials with thin off white edges; quite a few dark retained juvenile scapulars and the patterns on the moulted upper scapulars appear dark and more in line with LBBG; dark head, mask and acquiring a '1st-summer' pale base to the bill.
The droopy wing relaxed stance would also seem to fit with LBBG. Any comments welcome.

1 comment:

Stewart said...

Thats like the one I was telling you about the other week in Amble Harbour showing down to five feet!