Sunday 27 December 2009

Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans), 2cy, 27.12.2009, Jegens Odde, Læsø

This Caspian Gull represents the first ever documented record of the species on the island Læsø in the North Sea bay of Kattegat. It has an all characteristic plumage for the age class with a small white mirror visible on the outer most primary (p10) which is classic for 2nd winter cachinnans and very unusual in argentatus.

Additionally it has relative long legs where the thinner appearance with longer tibia compared to argentatus is quite distinctive, the bill is without pronounced gonys angle, it has distinctive dark spotted neck boa in contrast to the more whitish rather unspotted head and there is a well-defined broad black tail band with the inner tail half being unmarked white. It has a good cachinnans jizz with a high push up breast, belly slightly dropped behind legs and long slim rear giving an elongated impression.

Monday 21 December 2009

Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens), 4cy, 21.12.2009, Aarhus Harbor, Denmark

The Danish Glaucous-winged Gull was today relocated in Aarhus Harbor, but only seen for just a few minutes before flying off again. The latest week has given massive influx of large gulls in the harbor as snow and frost reduces feeding opportunities in the hinterland; thus the large gulls stay and feed in the harbor throughout the day giving superb conditions for gull watching. It is the first Glaucous-winged Gull for Scandinavia and only the 5th record in Western Palearctic.

Note that most of my previous photos are underexposed making the outer primary pattern in the flying bird appear darker than the bird originally was. For more well exposed photos of the same bird in the almost same minutes please have a look here, here, here and here.

Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans), 4cy, 21.12.2009, Aarhus Harbor

A beautiful and rather typical Caspian Gull found by the local birder Stephan Skaarup Lund (SSL). Most likely a 4th winter individual due to black marking in primary coverts, small and isolated mirrors on p10 and p9, relative large dark spot on upper mandible, and reminisces of classic winter neck-boa this late in season, where adults are typically in complete summer plumage by now.

One could state that the primary pattern is not spot on for cachinnans, but certainly within variation. There is black on p10-p5, the latter with a complete black subterminal band across the feather tip but being rather narrow on inner web. The black is extensive on the outer (leading) web, reaching the primary coverts on p10 and almost reaching on p9, and covering about half the exposed length of p8 and p7. The inner web has a reduced amount of black with the basal section fading from grey to whitish grey with a sharp division from the black, but the grey tongue are not that long on inner web of p10.

Adult Caspian Gull normally has large white mirrors on p10 and p9, although the p10 mirror usually merges with the white feather tip to give an extensive white tip; if not merged, the black between the white of tip and mirror is a very narrow bar like in this individual. The p9 mirror is better separated from the white tip but is sometimes split by a narrow black bar along the primary shaft. The small isolated mirrors on p10 and p9 could be related to sub-adultness in this gull.

Monday 7 December 2009

Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis), ad, 15.9.2007, Bjødstrup, Djursland

This Yellow-legged Gull has fine needle-thin winter streaks in head centered especially around the eyes, heavy bill with strong colours and red gonys spot reaching lower edge of upper mandible, red orbital ring and yellowish iris, strong head profile, warm yellow legs, darker upperparts than argentatus in direct comparison, slender and long-winged appearance with elongated body profile. On the opened wing the seven inner most primaries are all new generation feathers with p7 half grown and a typical black band crossing p5, both p8 and p9 are missing and p10 has not yet been shed in the right wing. The fresh primaries have relative small white apical spots smaller than the average argentatus and the tip of p6 extends further beyond the longest tertials than seen on argentatus adding to the long-winged appearance of this species.