|Note the tail pattern and also the greater coverts of this colour-ringed juvenile gull.|
I spent a day birding on the Suffolk coast yesterday, a fair amount of it looking at and photographing gulls. I first picked up this interesting juvenile large gull distantly in flight over the mouth of the River Blyth at Walberswick, and thought it was probably going to be a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull when I got better looks. On closer inspection, however, the black tail band seemed rather broad and not typical for that species. Intriguingly, I also noticed the bird was colour-ringed (white on green XDEE), so I kept an eye on it and got a few images when it came within range.
|The bird was colour-ringed XDEE white on green as a chick in a mixed Caspian x Herring colony in east Germany ...|
|... so it could be Caspian or Herring, or more likely a bit of both, as its mix of characters appears to indicate.|
|A better view of the upperside, showing the rather heavily marked tail and a wing pattern resembling michahellis.|
|Note the bird's leggy jizz but somewhat 'truncated' rear-end profile, plus the tertial pattern and greater coverts.|
Ronald believes this bird is a hybrid Caspian x Herring Gull, a view which helps explain my early impression of atypical and perhaps mixed characters. From looking more closely at the images, the slightly ‘truncated' look of the bird’s rear end, the speckled pattern on the tip of the second tertial and the more heavily chequered greater coverts are also suggestive of Herring Gull influence in a bird with some Caspian-like qualities. It will be interesting to see what it looks like if it returns in subsequent years, and I’d welcome news of any further sightings of this bird (and also other comments from observers with first-hand experience of juvenile Caspians and hybrids).
|If this bird returns to Walberswick regularly to winter, it will be interesting to monitor its plumage progression.|
It was one of several interesting larids in a day which also produced a second-winter Caspian Gull and a possible juvenile (too distant) in the pig fields at Walberswick, and which gave me a final Suffolk day total of a very respectable 10 gull species – the other nine being Black-headed, Little, Mediterranean, Common, Herring, Lesser Black-backed, Great Black-backed, Yellow-legged and Kittiwake. Autumn is definitely here …