Monday, 12 September 2016

Yellow-legged Gull Influx

Literally the first gull I clapped eyes on this morning was this lovely first-winter Yellow-legged Gull, at the bottom end of the Estuary...

It was a hefty bird all round and heavy billed.

 Look at all the second generation feathers, way more advanced than any Herring Gull of similar age.

Note how pale the bird looks, almost streak-free head with pale ground colour to neck, breast and belly.

My best ever open wing shot of a young YLG - thanks to that Little Egret! Note the restricted pale inner primary window.

Here on the left with 1w and 2w Herring Gulls. Note how overall it is a chunkier and longer winged bird.

I came back about an hour later, and was surprised to see it had been joined by a second bird...

The second bird (on the right) did have worryingly pale greater coverts, but all other features looked fine for 1w YLG

Both birds with a young Herring Gull (upper left) - shows the size difference well.

My favourite shot of the two YLG together.

Later in the day (mid pm) I had two first-winter Yellow-legged Gulls north of Coronation Corner.  One of these could well have been bird one from the morning, but the second bird was definitely a different bird - so that's three today! An hour later I then had bird one again and it was back down by the tram sheds at the lower end of the Estuary.

Other than these, and all round good numbers of large gulls, I've not seen much else today, although there's still at least 14 Bar-tailed Godwits on the Estuary which is not the norm at all...

Bar-tailed Godwit


  1. Hi Steve

    Thanks for your photos and notes here, very helpful. I'm still at the stage where I'd have looked at those birds, thought 'young Herring Gull' and not looked again, particularly if there hadn't been a Herring Gull nearby for comparison. So much to learn.

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    2. Hi Rob. Yeah I can't stress enough how important comparisons with the commoner gulls species are, it would be so so much harder if there were no Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls around! Good luck in searching! Best wishes, Steve.

  2. Nice one Steve, and it just goes to show how variable big gulls can be. Had only my 3rd juv/1w this year this morning and thought I was doing well! Maybe there's been a bit of an influx though it appears Matt's not had any at Exmouth recently.

    1. Hi Tim. There were really good numbers of big gulls about all day today, and the fact that the first YLG was here from 8:30-16:00 at least is really unusual - I've never known one stay here for that long before. Think they've just been keeping out of the wind, but maybe this nice S/SE wind is dragging a few more up than usual? Really want a juv Casp but guess they will be very 1w like by now.