Mediterranean X Common Gull?
by Martin G.
Flamborough 13th September 2013
Wind only just turned NW as I arrived at 7:00 am for a couple hours of seawatching. Not enough to produce a much in the skua/shearwater realm. However, higher than usual numbers of Common (mostly first winters) and Black-headed Gulls soon began to pass, heading north off the head. Before long I picked up one and then 2 juvenile- 1st winter Mediterranean Gulls. The another small gull appeared…
See what you think:
To start with here are some Common Gull shots from the same morning showing examples of upper and underparts.
To compare here is the first of the 2 first winter Mediterranean Gulls that passed. notice especially the patterning details in under and upperwing
Mystery Small Gull
Now here is the Mystery Bird. I first picked it up by the strangely thin looking black tail band set in all white rump and tail. I called it straight off as odd Common Gull and then with couple more views began to see Mediterranean Gull characters. I fired off a few shots and quickly concluded, in discussion with other guys, that is seemed to show intermediate characters between Common and Mediterranean Gull. So was it a hybrid?
The ‘southern breeding’ Mediterranean and ‘northern breeding’ Common Gulls are hardly close neighbours over most of their ranges, so I assume that hybridisation is pretty rare…
First views suggested a young Common Gull with wacky tail pattern. Then I had another think. Strikingly the head was noticeable white and isolated and the bill looked a little short and sort of ‘punched in’ for Common. Then in the detail the underwing had sort of intermediate pattern between Common and Med, and that pattern of white spots in the the outer primaries is only found similarly on Mediterranean Gull – or Relict Gull isn’t it?
Thoughts very welcome. Though I don’t think it is one, I can’t seem to find a photo anywhere of a juvenile-first winter Relict Gull- just for curiosities sake
Thoughts very welcome: