Big boy gull stuff.

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A morning this wet and unpleasant limits a chap’s options.
The boss has gone out to do the shopping (I did offer, but it was patiently explained to me that this type of thing is way, way, beyond my abilities).
So what to do on a wet Sunday morning left to my own devices?
I’ve counted the Goldfinches ravaging the feeders. Twice. (23 if you’re interested).
I’ve danced on the table to Little Richard (try it, they can’t touch you for it).
I’ve admired the two Tree Sparrows wintering at Dempsey Towers. Nice.
I’ve even played with the kindling hatchet indoors. Risky.
Nothing for it now, with all other options exhausted, we’ve got to do BIG BOY GULL STUFF.
While I was checking the Meds up at Weld Rd yesterday, Phil Smith was down at Ainsdale with a quality larus melon-twister…what do you think of this bird?
Please use the comment section and enter the world of challenge, italics and pain that is gulling…

Phil explains: “Very interesting large gull on Ainsdale beach yesterday afternoon. It’s probably just an argentatus Herring Gull but is certainly not typical.
“A bulky adult, slightly larger than most nearby Herrings. Extremely dark mantle, close to ssp. graellsii of LBB and darker than other ssp. argentatus (three individuals) in the flock of 1000+ gulls.
“Unlike most winter argentatus, reduced head and nape streaking, brightly-coloured bill with large gonys spot, average-sized primary mirrors. I managed to get a couple of shots with typical argentatus nearby.
“Also in this flock at least five very smart intermedius Lesser Black-backed.
“Assuming it isn’t a Vega Gull (!), all I can suggest is an eastern/northern form of argentatus. Olsen & Larsson (2004) state that adults in N. Norway and along White Sea coast differ in having darker bluish-grey upperparts (but also reduced black on wing-tip, which isn’t right). Some of these also have yellowish legs (“omissus“) but the Ainsdale bird has pink legs”.

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What do you think?
Is it a hybrid? A weird argentatus? Surely it couldn’t be the existential Vincent Vega?
That’s the great thing about gulls isn’t it, just when you think you’re in a good place with them, one comes along to chuck you right out of your comfort zone!
Here’s a few of Phil’s shots of his intermedius LBBs too.
Thanks as ever Phil…

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6 thoughts on “Big boy gull stuff.

  1. Brute of a gull. Argentatus for me due to the combination of size, structure, mantle colour, leg colour, primary pattern. I find Herring Gulls amazingly variable. Ringing recoveries on the Mersey show that northern Argies and everything inbetween do get here in winter.

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  2. John
    Discussed with Chris G and we are in broad agreement – interesting bird and we can’t figure out what it is, but not obvious normal British occurring taxa or even hybrid.
    Looks like it has some aspects that recall Vega as you mention but problems such as iris and bill colour are not ideal.
    As said without seeing wing pattern hard to make further progress.
    I wonder if you would mind this being featured on Birding Frontiers- with links back to your blog.
    I think it could generate some useful discussion about the potential occurrence of Vega – and also get folk looking for it again.
    Martin

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  3. Hi John,
    Although ideally I’d like to see a spread-wing photograph, it is a hybrid Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull, although it is hard to actually give you a single good reason in this instance.
    We increasingly see these on the Fylde – at least five at Skippool Creek alone in 2013 – but it is not clear whether they are actually increasing or we were previously over-looking them or recording them as Yellow-legged Gulls or Scandinavian Herring Gulls.
    Whenever I look through gulls elsewhere in Britain and Ireland (off the top of my head, in Donegal, London, West Midlands and Devon) I invariably see one of these now.
    Here are a few links to grim shots: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fyldebirdclub/6724851297 , https://www.flickr.com/photos/fyldebirdclub/5429514492 and https://www.flickr.com/photos/fyldebirdclub/6724851131 .

    All the best,
    Chris

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  4. For what it’s worth, regarding your dark mantled/pink legged gull, if I had seen one of these in Dublin Bay, then I’d have no problem sweeping it under the hybrid HGxLBB carpet.
    Fits the bill for that combo as far as I can tell.

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