at Richmond Bank, Cheshire
Delighted to get an email from Ian McKerchar. It’s immediately apparent that his photos of a juvenile Lesser Black-backed type Gull are ‘of the type’. The hypothetical Baltic Gull type. Just like 2+ birds at Flamborough in Sept. Just like several from North Norfolk recorded by ardent gull watchers in August/ Sept over several years.
I took these photos on August 15th this year at Richmond Bank, Cheshire and to say the bird stood out like a sore thumb was something of an understatement. Given that all the many hundreds of juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gulls present at the time were typically considerably darker than this bird you can see why. It’s head and underparts were strikingly pale and the upperparts had a frankly beautiful, almost scalloped look to them with the feather edges much paler than anything else around it. It was typically long winged but small billed and had something of a greyer ‘shawl’ around the neck. I couldn’t place it at the time and initial thoughts ranged from juvenile Caspian Gull (which is fairly obviously wasn’t!) to fuscus Lesser Black-backed Gull. When the bird finally flew though it displayed strikingly white underwing coverts which really threw me as I didn’t realise juvenile fuscus apparently displayed such and I expected the usual Lesser Black-backed Gull brown coverts. I’ve seen many hundreds of fuscus over the years but never a juvenile so after some fairly rudimentary investigation, including your recent thoughts on the subject, it seems white coverts may be something of a feature of juvenile fuscus?
All the very best, Ian
County Bird Recorder, Greater Manchester
and king gull: Chris Gibbins commented on Ian’s photos:
Wow, looks really good, as you say. Seems to me that this bird has everything we could expect – both structurally and plumage wise. Na-sayers will say we cant rule out an intermedius with 100% certainty, which is fair up to a point; but this does not mean it isn’t fuscus. Jizz, size, plumage pattern and underwing are all great. At the moment I think this is as good an unringed candidate as we might hope for – wasted bill and Common Gull like head in some images are striking.