GRC Blog

Welcome to the GRC Recorders pages. This blog provides details on all the relevant news of Glamorgan’s scarcer birds, plus all BBRC & WRP decisions that affect us locally. It will also be used to document the status and occurrence of these scarcer species and we welcome contributions from anyone with photographs, artwork or documentation of rarities past, present and future. The GRC also welcomes all seawatching news from around Glamorgan and news of passage migrants in spring & autumn, uncommon birds in our area and unusual behaviour.

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Friday, 21 February 2014

Leucistic Herring Gull at Mynydd Ty Talwyn

Popular opinion indicates this bird is a Glaucous Gull
An interesting gull amongst a small group of gulls gathered on the fields south of Mynydd Ty Talwyn, this morning. Certainly from some angles the bird seems to show some features, that you might expect on an Iceland Gull, especially the bill colour and structure. However, on closer inspection of the head shape (large and angry looking) and primaries (short projection beyond tertials and tail) it appears more like a Herring Gull or Glaucous Gull. The combination of an apparent influx of true white-wingers and the tendency for some of them to appear very faded at this time of year can make the identification of birds like this difficult.
In this instance, decent record shots mean that the identification of this bird can be discussed openly and possibly provide help to others who might see this bird elsewhere or another like it sometime in the future.
The bird appears to me to be a Leucistic Herring Gull because the structure looks good for Herring Gull or Glaucous Gull but without the heavy bill that would be more strikingly marked on a Glaucous Gull. i.e. it doesn't show the dipped in ink bill tip of a Glaucous Gull. This bird shows a dark eye, indicating a 2nd cal yr bird and therefore ruling out the unlikely scenario of the bill showing dull features that you might find on a bird in transition from 3rd cal yr to sub-adult.
Comments welcome.


Mark Hipkin said...

I notice the national news services are running this bird as a pure Glauc. A juvenile. I'm not particularly happy with the bill of this bird so I'm very interested to hear any views of this bird

Martyn Hnatiuk said...

Have a look at the photos on the llynfi blog Paul's close up photos in bright sunshine show a much bigger bill. I saw the bird at distance and it was somewhat bigger than Herring Gull. But from Darren's photos it does look similar to leucistic Herring Gull. Very interesting contrast between 2 photographers.

Jeff said...

Looked at the photos of the Llanridian Glaucous Gull that I took last year which I think was a second year bird and which shows the classic "dipped in ink" tip to the bill that this bird does not have,also the Gower bird seemed a lot more "barrel" chested and fierce looking.

Barry Stewart said...

Looks like a leucistic Glauc to me from these and Darren's pics, though not sure?

Paul Tabor said...

Another point worth a mention is perhaps the behaviour of the bird the two times i seen the bird it was on it's own and very nervy and flighty which you would expect from a glaucous.

Neil Donaghy said...

size and structure look like a Glauc to me. Just looks too hefty for a HG and bill is not that small IMO

Mark Hipkin said...

Thanks for all the comments. It appears the consensus certainly point towards this bird being a Glaucous. I must admit that looking at the photos again, particularly Paul's on the Llynfi Blog, does show this bird to be particularly heavy. It looks very heavy in the flight shots and the bill also looks very big. I still have reservations about the bill colouration, which seems to lack the striking markings of an immature Glauc. Perhaps this is not that important given the other features that this bird shows? Maybe the dirt on the bill is masking the bill features a little? Furthermore, the dull looking bill markings are closer to an immature Glaucous than an immature Herring Gull.
It still looks a little weird to me though, if it sticks around for a week or more I'd like to go and see it for myself.

Martyn Hnatiuk said...

no sign today AM [SAT]

Paul Larkin said...

In the Llynfi photographs the head shape of this bird, particularly in profile, looks Glauc like to me, and there is a hint of that sp pale eye ring. Do I see some pale grey regathering on the mantle indicating 2nd winter plumage? The bill shape looks OK for Glauc, thick and longish with shallow gonydial angle. It looks to me like there is some muck near the bill,tip obscuring a dark sub terminal area and pale tip, if so that's good for 2nd winter. It looks Glaucish in flight and I've yet to see any leucistic HG or GBBG that does not show darker outer primaries and a hint of a tail band to some extent, usually coffee coloured. The undertail of this bird shows typical glauc barring and its notable that in flight the "hidden" areas are brownish indicating fading elsewhere rather than leucism ie the bird was typical biscuit coloured. Given a bill wash I suspect it would reveal itself as a 2nd winter Glaucous.

Roo Perkins said...

Leucistic herring Glaucous hybrid? Hybrid vigor would result in the stockier build. looks like a typical weird hybrid to me. saw a similar bird in Icealnd (i was working on a rocky shore and the gulls were pretty much all i had to look at! plenty of Glauc x herring there).