Friday, 7 March 2014

Another not-quite Yellow-legged Gull

7th March 2014 - Topsham

Here's an interesting gull from this afternoon at the Rec. It stood out immediately from the usual Herring Gulls by its darker mantle. The light, looking into low sun, was poor but the difference is clear enough I think. It bathed for a few minutes showing extensively black outer primaries before walking onto the shingle when I could see it had yellow legs and feet.

Presumed hybrid gull - 7/3/2014 Topsham

 So presumably an adult Yellow-legged Gull then? Well no, to be honest, it didn't look quite right from the moment I first saw it. The primary projection looks a little short, as do the legs, in fact structurally it's most like a typical Herring Gull. The legs are certainly yellow, but not deep yellow and sometimes and from some angles showed a pinkish tinge. The orbital and gape are very hard to see but don't appear red at least. Here's what I got of the primary pattern.

Presumed hybrid gull - 7/3/2014 Topsham

Presumed hybrid gull - 7/3/2014 Topsham
There's a lot of black on P8-10 and a complete black band on P5, a large mirror on P10 and a tiny one on P9. All fine for michahellis but what's odd is the pale outer web on P9 on the left wing only. I've seen an aberration like that before, on this bird from last June.

Presumed hybrid gull - 24/6/2014 Topsham

This seems a big coincidence so I presume this is the same bird. Of course it will now have renewed all those primaries, so whatever pigmentation anomaly it has, it's to do with how the feather is grown rather than the feather itself.

It's got a lot of features of michahellis, but it doesn't feel quite right - largely the structure and the leg colour - I'll put this down as a presumed hybrid.

Here it's interacting with another, presumably female, gull - a pair? I wonder what the next generation will look like.

Presumed hybrid gull - 7/3/2014 Topsham

OK, that's enough poor photos of dodgy gulls for the time being, a few spring migrants are in order now, I think.

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