Sunday, June 21, 2009

Seagulls, not squalling

There are such moments. Rare, though.

A quiet afternoon on White Rock beach, low tide, with full tummies all 'round.



  1. Nice photos. Although I do have to say that one of my pet peeves is calling the myriad of gull species "Seagulls". Just one of my quirks.

  2. Sorry about that. One of these days I'll get my gull species straight. I've tried to memorize them, but the beach variety never quite matches the guidebook samples.

    Do they hybridize, like mallards do?

    And which species were these? The first and third, I think, would be California gulls, going by the spotted tail and the red spot on the beak. Except that the legs are nowhere near "greenish", as the book specifies. And that the book (Audubon) emphasizes that they spend the summers inland.

    And the middle one? Is that a young one of the same species?

  3. That's not a problem. I know "seagull" is the vernacular term, I just prefer gull. And gulls are challenging to identify. They are a complex family that frustrate our conventional notions on "species". Add in a healthy dose of hybridization and several plumages and well... they even confound "experts".

    I don't think the gulls in the first photo are California Gulls. You would expect to see a black ring or spot on the bill in addition to the red spot on the gonydeal. At first blush I'd say Glaucous-winged Gull, but I'm wondering if the one on the left is an "Olympic" Gull which is a Glaucous-winged X Western hybrid (darker wing tips spots on tail)

    The second photo confounds me. It is a third-cycle gull. I'm taking a wild guess to say Glaucous-winged because of the uniform colour of the back/wing tips but I thought their legs should be pink not greenish. I'm undoubtably wrong.

    Third picture is too hard to tell just from the photo. Not California though.


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