31st March 2015 – A “Yellow-legged” Gull

This post is really for the Laro-philes. The weekend past was pretty dismal weather wise, a strong transatlantic depression brought poor visibility and extremely strong winds. However, the field nearest Birling Gap had been ploughed and had attracted c350 large gulls. Almost exclusively young Herring Gulls, with minimal numbers of Black-headed Gull and a single Lesser-black backed Gull. During the two hours of watching, I failed to produce anything of note. Other then this, an adult Herring Gull, which had all the attributes of a standard Argenteus, except for it’s legs, which were yellow.


Above, the Gull in question.

It’s bill was also slightly more saturated in colour than the accompany Herrings. I haven’t yet trawled through Olsen/Larsson but will do so. I’m aware there is a population of baltic breeding Argentatus Herring Gulls that have yellow legs, although this gull didn’t share anything in common with Argentatus Herrings I’ve encountered in the past. Of note, the birds feet were slightly more flesh coloured. Unfortunately, I didn’t see or photograph the bird in flight. I’m guessing it’ll lead to nothing but interesting all the same. Here’s a link to a Danish gull blog, where several individuals exhibited extreme bare part colouration attributed to diet here. In addition a link to Steve Arlows site here, with a page on “Omissus” type Argentatus. I understand gulls display a high level of individual variation within species, plus the complex spectre of hybrids and mixed genes. I really post this out of general interest rather than pressing for a definitive consensus.


With a standard Argenteus in the frame.



In other news, 3 Firecrest and 5 Chiffchaff were in Belle Tout wood and I had my 10th Red Kite of the spring over the house (barely higher than roof top height) viewed from the bedroom window. The local, breeding Herring Gulls are again proving excellent raptor alarms. After alerting me to both a Honey Buzzard and a Black Kite last May, I hope they can do the same this year.


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