Well maybe his Great x10 Grandaddy was…
Joined Sheffield January Bird racers down at Orgreave for the gull roost on Saturday evening (22nd Jan). Mark and Pete had a ‘yellow-legged’ argentatus Herring Gull in the morning and before long it was picked up in the evening roost. This one looked like it might be from the yellow-legged Finnish population-sporting ‘proper’ yellow legs (similar to dull winter Lesser-Black-backed legs) with reddish orbital ring, only perhaps a tad paler than some of the nearby ‘argies’, with longish grey tongue on p10 and no black visible on p5 (though some Finnish birds have black on p5).
These seem pretty rare to me in the UK. I have only seen a couple before that I thought looked pucka. There was a dead bird found in the London area I think in the 1990’s- which had the same yellow legs, reddish orbital, bit more black on wings than Norwegian argies etc. I was sent details and it had been ringed in Finland. This was the only ‘proof’ which I knew of indicating that birds from the old ‘omissus’ population reached the UK. Anyone know more about that one? I did have photos of it but lost in the mists of time. Would like to get hold of them again…
It’s the English name sometimes used for the original eastern Baltic, (Finnish,/Estonian/ Latvian) population that nested on (you guessed it) marshes, and had yellow legs. Used to be called ‘omissus’. Seemingly the omissus stock were invaded by pink-legged Baltic breeders in the 1950’s and lost their integrity. To add to the complexity it hs been postulated that omissus was originally the product of hybridisation between Caspian Gulls and Baltic (pink-legged ) Herring Gulls. I am not personally convinced by the hybridisation argument (re Caspian)- or that these yellow-legged birds are uninteresting. They have a reputation though of generating more heat than light!
Some birds from the region, though, still look pretty distinctive and worth looking for in the U.K.
Bad photos but it was virtually dark!