Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

A brief look at the Common (Mew) Gull

At this time of year groups of gulls congregating on frozen lakes and ponds are good for both photography and the sharpening of those identification skills. Gulls as a group can be very tricky with differing age and seasonal plumage, and are therefore something of an acquired skill that needs to be worked at to build confidence. Only recently I agonised over a large gull that had come in to roost on Ponthir Reservoir. Was it a ring billed or just a common or garden herring gull? The latter prevailed but the varying amount of dark markings on bill had me going for a while.

The common gulls depicted in the above image illustrate how plumages differ depending on age. My assessment of these gulls would be:

Left hand bird: Adult winter - note crisp plumage with slight streaking of head and slight bill band.

Middle bird: 2nd winter - heavier streaking to head and breast with thicker bill band.

Right hand bird: 1st winter - blend of immature and adult plumage with well defined dark tip to bill.

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