Scilly gulls – common ones, rare ones and difficult ones

The winds are from the north west now and this has stopped the flow of migrant birds coming up from the Continent. As a result we went looking for a few of the long staying vagrant birds on St Mary’s.

Iceland gull 1
This is an Iceland Gull – there have been two juvenile birds on the golf course for a while now.

Iceland gull 2
Iceland Gulls are pretty birds and are almost white as juveniles – the key feature of the species though is the lack of black on the tips of the wings.

Iceland gull 3
This is an Arctic species (thus the name) and a few dozen birds a year come south, especially juvenile birds. This is a photo of the second bird on the Golf Course.

Iceland gull 4Another shot of the same bird – this is the third Iceland Gull I have seen – all on Scilly.

Lesser black backed gull
This is a Lesser Black-back Gull – a species in decline nationally and an uncommon species on Scilly.

Herring gull
Here is a Herring Gull – the classic seagull of the southwest – the one that will steal your ice cream, pasty or fish and chips if you aren’t paying attention.

'Yellow legged' gull 2
Finally we found this bird on Porth Loo beach. On the surface it looks like a Herring Gull but it has yellow legs – see the previous picture and you will see that Herring Gulls have pink legs.

'Yellow legged' gull 1
If you took the bird guides at face value you would conclude that this was a Yellow-legged Gull. However it didn’t look quite right – the grey on a Yellow-legged Gull is darker – intermediate between a Herring Gull and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. The other ‘herring gull’ type of gull with yellow legs is a Caspian Gull but that has a large bill which is parallel sided.

'Yellow legged' gull mating
This picture helps to clinch the ID perhaps. The ‘yellow-legged’ Gull is mating with the ‘pink-legged’ Herring Gull. As the books say ‘some Herring Gulls have yellow legs’ ……

If anyone wants to comment on the ‘yellow-legged’ Herring Gull ID please do.


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