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Big Gulls in Taiwan

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Old Monday 20th February 2017, 13:04   #26
SteveMM
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Originally Posted by balex78 View Post
Hi Steve...that's a wonderful set of pics and an Amazing documentation!!

I pretty much agree wwith your ID's, but not sure about bird number 4 and 6 being a tyamirensis. Aren't them too advanced in coverts moult and with pale panels on inner web?

I'd ask you to post all of this wonderful documents on Facebook. The Group is: Western Palearctic Gulls (But oriental/japanese gulls are welcome too)

You will get much more attention and replies there! It looks like here your pics are a little ...you know..hidden !
Thanks for the feedback, balex (Would that be Alex?), and the suggestions. I'm not on Facebook, but please do post a link on there if you think these birds would be of interest to group members.

I assume you mean the bird in #4. I haven't yet managed to penetrate beyond the migraine that reading about second- and third-winters in Malling Olsen and Larsson triggers to be especially confident with them. Do you think that this bird is perhaps a second-winter, then? It bears little resemblance to first-winter mongolicus (all worn and bleached by now), nor to birds I have been identifying as vegae (though I haven't posted any of these yet, but they also look essentially juvenile (with lots of dark on the belly)). These are the only three possibilities here, really.

There's no bird in #6, so I'm not sure which one you're referring to.

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Old Monday 20th February 2017, 13:16   #27
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I meant number 7, not 6. Sorry

I think they're both 1st winters, but can taymirensis moult to that extent ?
They could be mongolicus

Ok I'll post a link to that on FB, but it would be better if you register and post them on your own, so all pics would be available there and ready to be commented . That's the biggest gull community on line, with more than 2.000 subscribers
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Old Monday 20th February 2017, 14:25   #28
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Originally Posted by balex78 View Post
I meant number 7, not 6. Sorry

I think they're both 1st winters, but can taymirensis moult to that extent ?
They could be mongolicus

Ok I'll post a link to that on FB, but it would be better if you register and post them on your own, so all pics would be available there and ready to be commented . That's the biggest gull community on line, with more than 2.000 subscribers
Thanks very much again. I'm not especialy keen on Facebook!

If both are first-winters, then I would be fairly confident that neither could be mongolicus. The window in both is not very prominent (the trailing edge is not broken by a broad area of white as in the other mongolicus above) and the greater coverts that have not been replaced do not look patterned/white/bleached/old as they should do in mongolicus.

I guess the answer to your question must be 'Yes', then (?!)

Last edited by SteveMM : Monday 20th February 2017 at 14:58.
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Old Monday 20th February 2017, 14:40   #29
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I'll shove some birds on I consider to be first-winter vegae. Although there is variation in structure in all these gulls, these typically look much shorter and fuller at their rear ends than either taimyrensis or mongolicus, and much thicker-necked and more bulbous-headed. The overall result is that they become far more difficult to separate from Slaty-backed Gull.

The typical individual retains a lot of brown on its belly (contra mongolicus and taimyrensis), has rather white-looking greater coverts (which often contrast strongly wth the rest of the plumage), appears essentially uniform (but patterned) above elsewhere (with no strong contrast brought about by wear/moult), has extensive barring in its uppertail/rump, and has black-looking primaries (contra Slaty-backed Gull).

Attached: First-winter vegae (ID'd by structure, extensive brown belly patch, uniform-looking (but patterned) upperparts, contrasting whiter greater coverts).
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Last edited by SteveMM : Tuesday 21st February 2017 at 00:42.
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Old Tuesday 21st February 2017, 03:12   #30
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As I've spent so much time at my freshwater site (specifically after first-winter mongolicus), I haven't come across too many vegae yet this spring. I have come across some, though.

Adults I identify as vegae share the same structural features as outlined for first-winters above (especially 'broad' Slaty-backed Gull-like heads), are typically still in primary moult in February, and (as not yet in breeding condition) have duller-looking bills than either taimyrensis or mongolicus at this time. Contra what is suggested/intimated by much of the literature, the majority of these birds do not have extensive (American Herring Gull-like) head markings, instead have something more like taimyrensis but with more dusky marks and streaking around the eye. They are as pale or even paler-mantled than mongolicus, and have much narrower trailing edge also. The legs of most are pink-bubble gum pink, and lack the grey tones of pink-legged mongolicus.

Measuring black to P6, to P5, to P4 or wherever seems to be entirely useless (claptrap IMO) where these three gull taxa are concerned, as there seems to be complete overlap between all three of them (there should be less black in the wingtip of vegae, but to P3 in one of the individuals attached). Birds I consider to be vegae generally lack much of a tongue down the underside of P10 (so mostly black, like taimyrensis), but then quite abruptly show less black in the wing from P9 inwards (all the black is skewed to the front of the wing, unlike taimyrensis).

Again, the above relate to 'birds I consider to be vegae'. I accept I could be wrong on all counts! Attached are two different individuals.

Attached: Adult vegae (ID'd by structure, pale saddle, dull bill base, winter head markings more extensive than either taimyrensis or mongolicus, pink legs, incomplete primary moult).
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Last edited by SteveMM : Tuesday 21st February 2017 at 03:37.
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Old Tuesday 21st February 2017, 03:21   #31
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Very infrequently, birds sharing the same structural and plumage features given for adult vegae above turn up which have bright orange legs (deeper orange-yellow than in taimyrensis). I have these identified as 'birulai'.

In the third image below, the 'birulai' is stood with an adult taimyrensis; in the fourth image with a taimyrensis to the rear and an adult Slaty-backed Gull in the foreground.

Attached: Adult vegae (ID'd by structure, pale saddle, dull bill base, winter head markings more extensive than either taimyrensis or mongolicus, incomplete primary moult).
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Last edited by SteveMM : Tuesday 21st February 2017 at 03:40.
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Old Thursday 23rd February 2017, 16:30   #32
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Interesting thread, keep them coming!
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Old Friday 24th February 2017, 12:29   #33
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Interesting thread, keep them coming!
Thanks for the encouragement! I'm going to run out of species pretty soon, but I'm sure I can find one or two oddballs to keep the thread going.

Again, I post my 'methodology' (i.e. how I'm IDing stuff) with each one, so, if you see anything I'm getting wrong, please do point it out!
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Old Friday 24th February 2017, 13:04   #34
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There's only Slaty-backed Gull I haven't looked at at all yet, but, before I do that, I wanted to post some more taimyrensis taken today (and see what the long weekend holiday here this weekend brings).

The first individual is interesting in respect of the bird in #4 and the comment in #25. The solidly dark greater coverts and entirely brown 'hand' (with no window to speak of) of the attached bird point to it being taimyrensis (and to the wing being juvenile). Interestingly, much of the mantle, scapulars, and median and lesser wing coverts seem to have been replaced by an adult-type (blue-grey) feather, resulting in a plumage that looks more like that of some kind of second-winter.

I don't think that this bird can be late first-winter mongolicus as this should have a juvenile wing with faded greater coverts and a prominent pale window. I get out of my depth with second-winters, but, as this plumage is acquired early in mongolicus, it too should be paler/faded by late February.

I really am guessing, but it seems to me that some taimyrensis can moult in a manner as described for barabensis in Malling Olsen and Larsson (i.e. quite advanced and quite early on). Again, if this is completely wrong, please do point it out. There is no interest whatsoever in gull ID here in Taiwan, so I'm left to fathom them out completely on my own!

Attached: First-winter taimyrensis (ID'd by uniformly solid dark greater coverts, indistict pale window, contrasting unmarked white uppertail, active moult to first-winter/first-summer).
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Old Friday 24th February 2017, 13:15   #35
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The second individual is a bird I consider to be a second-winter taimyrensis. It has a second-winter bill (large pale tip, but no real yellow yet) but is very advanced above with only a trace of a tail band (which should be broader in mongolicus of same age (and absent in third-winter taimyrensis)).

Attached: Second-winter taimyrensis (ID'd by extensive mid-dark grey upperparts, second-winter bill pattern, trace of tail band).
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Old Friday 24th February 2017, 13:27   #36
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And a couple of adult or near-adult taimyrensis. The first bird is typical, with rather dark sadlle, P10 still growing, and bright bare parts. The second bird is more difficult to figure out as it is a pale-end individual with damaged feathers (the outermost primaries even look brownish, as if not yet dropped). I thought this was a vegae for a while, but structure and that pale yellow-pink tone to the legs both suggest taimyrensis more.
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Old Friday 24th February 2017, 13:34   #37
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And finally two straightforward adult mongolicus from this afternoon's birds. It's amazing in view of the variation in other forms just how consistent adults of this form seem to be. I've also added more Great Black-headed Gull just for good measure.

Attached: Adult mongolicus (ID'd by completed primary moult, entirely white head, relatively pale mantle, contrasting black wingtip with two mirrors, pale hand (from below), broad white trailing edge, and bright yellow bill).
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Old Saturday 25th February 2017, 13:36   #38
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I took a look at a small harbour about an hour north of home today as this usually has a handful of gulls hanging around in it. Aside from the usual taimyrensis, the only large gull of interest was a first-winter mongolicus, which looked remarkably similar to (and probably was) the individual in #13.

Attached: First-winter mongolicus (ID'd by predominantly whitish look throughout the wing coverts, white trailing edge P1-4 (and prominent window), older brownish-looking outer wing, and no evidence of feather replacement).
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Old Saturday 25th February 2017, 13:43   #39
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The same harbour did at least contain a medium-sized gull of interest, a Common Gull. I don't think I've ever seen one retain quite so much juvenile plumage until so late in the winter (and not look really bleached), which alone should be sufficient to indicate that it is a kamtscahtschensis.
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Old Sunday 26th February 2017, 03:29   #40
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Great stuff, cheers.
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Old Sunday 26th February 2017, 12:03   #41
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Great stuff, cheers.
Thanks Jogresh!

Black-tailed Gulls don't really qualify as a big gull, but some are showing up now. Hopefully this is a sign of migration and bigger numbers of gulls to come through in the next few weeks. Two first-winters and an adult are attached.
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Old Sunday 26th February 2017, 12:07   #42
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Only one adult taimyrensis would come close at my small harbour again today, though a dozen or so were lounging around offshore.

Attached: Adult taimyrensis (ID'd by mid-dark grey mantle, single mirror P10 (with tiny mirror P9), poorly contrasting black wingtip, dark grey hand (from below), underside of P10 with short diagonal tongue, and fairly bright yellow bill and legs).
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Old Sunday 26th February 2017, 12:35   #43
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I wanted to post some Slaty-backed Gulls, but haven't come across all that many yet so far this year. The first reason for this is that my coastal site (a sandbar) has become popular with fishermen and fewer and fewer gulls are willing to settle on it. The second is that it is has always been somewhat 'hit and miss' anyway, with often nothing there at all. This year seems to be a bit of a poor one.

I did get one striking first-winter earlier in the month, though, a very bleached affair. Slaty-backed Gulls seem to be very prone to bleaching, and most 'white' things turning up at this time of year turn out to be Slaty-backeds. Other useful characteristics are the big eye of first-winters, the thick, droopy cigar-shaped bill, the dark belly patch (always the last thing to go), and lack of patterning in the tail (solid, whether bleached or not).

Additionally, Slaty-backed Gulls when stood adopt a wide-legged stance. Coupled with their shortish rear ends, this gives them a look something almost akin to a Northern Shoveler!

Attached: First-winter Slaty-backed Gull (ID'd by broad head, dark belly patch, excessive bleaching, and solid tail band).
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Old Sunday 26th February 2017, 13:01   #44
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As if being rationed, I have been permitted precisely one second-winter Slaty-backed Gull this spring. Slaty-backed Gulls are striking at this age (and very 'Hitchcock' too), with new saddle contrasting with old wing, very pale eye, and lots of dirty/dusky marks around the eye (creating fierce/brooding look), on the neck sides, and more randomly below (though especially belly).

Attached: Second-winter Slaty-backed Gull (ID'd by dark saddle, retained old (bleached) wing, very pale eye, extensive dusky below).
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Old Sunday 26th February 2017, 13:35   #45
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I have had two adult (or near) Slaty-backed Gulls this month, but only one that would be photographed. A couple of interesting things about them might be that they are not always as dark as seems to be suggested in the literature (about as dark as 'dark-end' taimyrensis (so heuglini)) and often they do not appear especially large.

They're straightforward to ID, though, with 'tubular' body, dark saddle, broad white trailing edge, dark under-primaries and under-secondaries, and very pale eye. Not all show a good 'string of pearls', but the bird attached is probably not fully adult yet.

Attached: Adult (or near) Slaty-backed Gull (ID'd by shape/structure, dark saddle, broad white trailing edge, dark underside to flight feathers, and very pale eye).
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 09:21   #46
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Thanks for keeping this post updated day by day, with news pics.
They are very useful!

Keep it going Steve! Especially wirh pics about immature taymirensis, mongolicus and vegae

I linked this post on The "Western Palearctic Gulls Group" on Facebook!
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 10:12   #47
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Steve, what do you think of these? https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=340085
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 10:27   #48
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Thanks very much again. I'm not especialy keen on Facebook!

If both are first-winters, then I would be fairly confident that neither could be mongolicus. The window in both is not very prominent (the trailing edge is not broken by a broad area of white as in the other mongolicus above) and the greater coverts that have not been replaced do not look patterned/white/bleached/old as they should do in mongolicus.

I guess the answer to your question must be 'Yes', then (?!)
Agree that 'taimyrensis' type is best here for the reasons made!

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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 13:56   #49
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Today's birds were thoroughly predictable at first, but contained quite a shock towards the end!

First, two more first-winter taimyrensis. Unfortunately, I couldn't get nice upperside shots of the first bird, but did rather better with the second. I'm still very uncertain if I am ageing these birds correctly, but would expect paler and more contrasting inner primaries on any second-winter, together with a pink bill tip. If I am ageing them correctly, then it is quite remarkable how quickly taimyrensis acquires more adult-like plumage characteristics!

Attached: First-winter taimyrensis (ID'd by poorly patterned outer greater coverts, indistict pale window, contrasting unmarked white uppertail, active moult to first-winter/first-summer).
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 14:02   #50
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A dozen or so adult (or near adult) taimyrensis around my small harbour. These birds all fit my Gestalt of taimyrensis nicely, with pale eye, mid-dark grey upperparts, lots of black in the wingtip, small mirror P10 (sometimes much smaller mirror P9), dark 'hand' from below, dirty marks on the nape, and bright bare parts. The underside of P10 typically has a short diagonal tongue, but the last bird shows that variation is possible!
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