|Gulls resting at the mouth of Oued Ksob, just south of Essaouira, on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Offshore in the background is the island of Mogador, summer home to one of the world's largest Eleonora's Falcon colonies.|
|Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls provide an ID diversion in a range of plumages.|
|A rather pale first-winter Yellow-legged Gull with a mantle pattern somewhat recalling European Herring Gull ...|
|... but otherwise rather typical michahellis Yellow-legged Gull in flight, with neat tail band, reduced inner primary 'window' and largely dark outer greater coverts, among other features.|
|Adult Audouin's Gull - one of the Western Palearctic's most beautiful larids.|
With gulls there’s always the possibility of surprises, and on Saturday 14th February at Oued Ksob, a couple of miles south of Essaouira, it came in the form of a second-calendar-year Great Black-backed Gull. This species is rare, if not a true vagrant, this far south, and this bird presumably originated from north-west Europe though the species has, bizarrely, been discovered breeding at one site in Atlantic Sahara in recent years.
|A first-winter Great Black-backed Gull, rare this far south, with Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.|
|Second-winter Glaucous Gull - the pale golden eye is probably the best clue to this age.|
|... here looking rather blotchy from behind, with Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls for company ...|
|... and looking very distinctive on the wing as it flies off for a dip in the channel.|
A few other species of interest were seen during the long weekend – more in another post. In the meantime, some phonescoped video footage of the Glaucous and Great Black-backed Gulls will appear shortly on my Facebook page.