Thursday, 2 February 2012

Query:Yellow-legged Gull


I was doubtful about this being a Common Gull, largely because when I first saw it I thought it was the much larger Herring Gull. Now it seems it may in fact be a Yellow-legged Gull between its second and third winters (it is lacking the bright red spot on its beak). The following from the RSPB is interesting:

The yellow-legged gull has only recently been recognised as a species in its own right, having previously been considered to be a race of herring gull. Adults have darker grey backs and wings than herring gulls, but are paler than lesser black-backed gulls. They have more black in the wing tips than herring gulls and smaller white 'mirrors'. The legs are bright yellow, there is a red ring around the eye and the bill is yellow with a large red spot. In non-breeding plumage, the head is less streaked and whiter than herring gulls. Juvenile yellow-legged gulls are very similar to juvenile lesser black-backed gulls, but tend to be whiter-headed and start to gain a grey 'saddle' on their backs quickly as they moult to first winter plumage. Immature birds gain adult-like characteristics as they mature over the course of five years with the legs turning yellow and dark grey feathers replacing the brown and black immature feathers. 

I am, of course, happy to be corrected by those who know their gulls far better than me.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,000th sec, f/8, 400mm at ISO 250


  1. No help from this quarter Tim, I can manage Black Headed but that is my sum total. I have meant, for a long time, to do more investigation into Gulls but I never remember.

  2. Tim,
    Your gull certainly seems to have a much more powerful bill than a Common Gull.

  3. Tim, I'm pretty sure this is a Common Gull, the bill isn't nearly heavy enough for a Yellow-legged - pictures on my blog.

    1. Hi Phil. I'm sure you're right, but I can't seem to find an explanation for the red ring around the eye, which is I think not a Common Gull marking.