Juvenile Baltic Gull candidate

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.


Hi Martin,

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
Ian McKerchar
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.

One thought on “Juvenile Baltic Gull candidate

  1. Jan Jörgensen (JanJ)

    The characters combined as shown by the Ian´s gull looks promising for Baltic, and if I saw this one in my home patch (south-east Sweden, like at Ottenby, I wouldn´t be to much bothered by any thoughts on – say intermedius. However, when – in this case – in Britain, I would still prefer to see it ringed, to be on the safe side, if there are any safe sides nowadays with all that spreading of sp/ssp 🙂
    When it comes to primary projection on the subject gull it looks to be on the short end, however one should not put to much conclusions in to that I guess
    A few Baltic from Stockholm by Alan Dalton:



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