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Old Tuesday 29th December 2009, 16:30   #1
GorgeousTony
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Various Gulls, Falmouth, Cornwall, UK

I took these pictures at Swanpool in Falmouth over Xmas with the intention of getting to grips with the various ages of Herring Gulls. Its proving a lot harder than I expected, could I have some confirmations / corrections please.

1. 1st year winter Herring Gull
2. 1st year winter Herring Gull
3. 2nd year winter Herring Gull
4. 3rd year winter Herring Gull (due to adult plumage but lot of black on beak).
5. Adult winter Herring Gull

thanks

Tony
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Old Tuesday 29th December 2009, 16:32   #2
Cristian Mihai
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I would say that you're right with all of them.
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Old Tuesday 29th December 2009, 16:33   #3
GorgeousTony
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And one final one wich I believe is a Lesser Black Backed gull.

Tony
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Old Tuesday 29th December 2009, 16:36   #4
lou salomon
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2nd winter (= 2cy until 31.12.) herring gull for the last.
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Old Tuesday 29th December 2009, 18:19   #5
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I was say that you have the aging correct for all of the pcis in the original post however perhaps dark markings on the bill of the adult type bird could suggest a 4th year/near adult bird, other than that it looks like an adult.

The additional image is a 2nd year Herring Gull.

Nice shots by the way
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Old Wednesday 30th December 2009, 20:14   #6
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Thanks all for your responses. I'm pleased that I managed to get the first five correct but I'm a little confused about the final, lone picture. I'm not doubting that its a Herring Gull, but if this is a second year Herring Gull, then why is the plumage so different to the other 2nd year (pic 3) Herring gull? The eye colour is also very different and it seems to me that the head is more elongated in front of the bill. Is this just part of the expected variation in similar aged birds? If so, then is there a defining feature that distinguishes a 2nd year from a 1st or 3rd year bird, or is it, as I suspect, a bit more complex than that?

Tony
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Old Wednesday 30th December 2009, 21:20   #7
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I'd say 1st winter, 1st win, 3rd win, 4th win (still traces of imm brown speckles), 5th win adult/full adult next moult when beak will colour up. The lone photo 2nd winter - all Herring Gulls. But there are chaps and chapesses on here with more skill and knowledge than me!

Cheers

Dave
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Old Wednesday 30th December 2009, 22:06   #8
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The bird in pic three is a 2nd winter that is more advanced than the lone imaged 2nd winter.

Pic three shows a bird with more grey upper-parts and less densely barred wing coverts than a first-winter, whilst the pale eye also eludes to 2nd winter rather than first winter. Its not a third winter bird yet as it still has retain first-year type primaries, they're not black with small white tips that would indicate a third winter.


The single image second-winter has a pale based bill though is still darked eyed, as not as advanced as the other bird, the scapulars are barred and do not contrast with the sparcely barred wing coverts (Note the greater contrast between the grey and brown barred scapulars with the obvious brown barred whitish wing coverts on pic 1), which are very similar to bird in pic three, and the newly replaced upper-tertials, the browner first year tertials still visible beneath. It to has not replaced its primaries with white tipped feathers typical of third-years.

Some birds just progress to older looking plumages faster than others due to a number of possible reasons.

Oh the joys of gulls

Hope this helps
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Old Wednesday 30th December 2009, 22:07   #9
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yes, tony, it's within variation of 2nd winters. the first one (pic 3) is just more advanced in plumage development having attained adult like grey scapulars and mantle feathers (upperside except wings), and slightly paler iris. variation in immature large gulls (not juvenile anymore and not yet adults) generally is huge.
some points to remember:

1st winters: pointed primary tips with no or very little pale tips, usually a bold greater covert pattern - clearly cubic or triangular dark and white spots, tail with more distinct marks towards base and bold spots on uppertail coverts, tertials have a different pattern than 2nd winters - in herring gull usually with varying amount of notches in the pale crescent, their bases are brownish in herring gull.
2nd winters: more rounded primary tips with small white tips, especially inner ones, more delicate patterned greater coverts, tertials with a darker base and a broad double white crescent with a thin dark subterminal band, varying amount of adult like scapulars (some without, some all adult like, in herring gull most have a checkered back of plain grey and immature brownish, other similar species like YLG or caspian usually with plain grey scapulars), tail also different, usually with cleaner white tail coverts and more simple pattern of dark band.
have a look at various ages on these sites:
http://www.gull-research.org/hg/HG1CY07.htm

http://www.iesmeulmeester.nl/fotos.php?actie=cat&cat=28

http://cyberbirding.uib.no/gull/ind_hg.php

http://www.pbase.com/stephaubry/goel_argente

cheers,
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Old Thursday 31st December 2009, 06:54   #10
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Again, thanks for your replies, and many thanks Lou for the links - I will be studying these.

Seems I've got a bit of a learning curve ahead of me!

Tony
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