Monday 26 May 2014

Yellow-legged Gull - the cautious approach

25th May 2014 - Topsham

With not so much as a Med Gull to disturb the peace at the Rec lately I can usually rely on the big gulls to provide some interest. Here's a fairly good candidate Yellow-legged Gull with a mid grey mantle and of course, nice yellow legs.

Presumed Yellow-legged Gull - 25/5/2014 Topsham
Presumed Yellow-legged Gull - 25/5/2014 Topsham
Presumed Yellow-legged Gull - 25/5/2014 Topsham

On the plus side It appears to have a dark orbital ring and the red on the bill bleeds into the upper mandible, but on the other hand the colour of the gape doesn't appear to be red although it's hard to be sure. Structurally it's not that impressive, at the time it looked a bit on the small side compared with the accompanying Herring Gulls although at least the primary extension is fairly long. From these views I could see a large mirror on P10 - left wing only, the right P10 was missing, presumably broken. The big problem is that at no point did I get a look at the P5 tip to check for a complete black band. I waited as long as I could in the hope of getting a view or photos of the spread wing but, as the bird settled down for a nap, I had to leave.

Conclusion? From what I saw, and from the photos, there is nothing definite to count against it being a michahellis. But because I've seen rather too many apparently good candidates fail on the primary pattern test, it would be inconsistent not to be cautious and put it down as just a probable. On the bright side, it may turn up again and at least the broken/missing P10 should mark it out.

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