This last species has become a focal point in recent weeks. I noticed a post on Martin Garner’s blog (see links below) back in December about Common Gulls of the subspecies heinei, in which he flagged up the possibility that this Russian form might occur here more often than is suggested by the very few records (which appear to be related to ringing recoveries). When we hosted the Rainham gull day in early March Martin again talked about heinei and ran through characters indicative of this form.
|Second-calendar-year Common Gull L canus (Rainham, Greater London, 11 March 2011). A different individual to above, this bird has intermediate patterning on the axillaries, with only the tips showing any dark notching.|
On the Rainham gull day with Martin Garner in early March we also observed a Common Gull still largely in juvenile plumage (too distant for photography, unfortunately). I have occasionally seen juvenile plumage retained late into the winter in Common Gulls. This presumably happens for a variety of reasons affecting individual birds, and is not related to subspecies, but the following shots are included here for reference:
|First-calendar-year Common Gull L canus (Prague, Czech Republic, 29 December 2008). A striking bird in this plumage in mid-winter, with heavy brown blotching on a white background. Photographed going to roost at dusk.|
|First-calendar-year Common Gull L canus (Prague, Czech Republic, 29 December 2008). The same bird as above, resting briefly on the water, allowing its retained juvenile scapulars to be seen clearly.|