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Gull ID / Iran (1 Viewer)

Shahrzad

Well-known member
Iran
Many thanks for your help that to identify these Gulls which is difficult for me as usall.

Seen: 15 Feb. 2021 / 35.462288, 51.519291
 

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Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe

Larus armenicus , Armenian Gull (or sometimes regarded as a sub-specific Yellow-legged Gull) due to bill markings, greyscale and wingtip (and location). I’m not sure how you would rule and hybrids out of that picture though - Lou may have more to add I‘m sure.
 
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lou salomon

the birdonist
without open wings and comparison of different taxa to evaluate (relative) mantle shade, identifying large gulls on the water is always difficult, especially in this minefield middle east, where you have 4 very similar taxa (cachinnans, barabensis, heuglini, armenicus). while heuglini should stick out on darker mantle the other three would be about similar in shade, in strong sunlight. i suppose most of these are steppe gulls (which also tend to show more black to bill tip than other pale mantled taxa, right before breeding time). it is quite impossible to tell if these are caspian gulls (cachinnans) or steppe gulls (barabensis). maybe some armenians in there too, but i don't see the typically stubby bills and i'd expect a bit more black on bill at least in some individuals.
 

lou salomon

the birdonist
armenian gulls are the only breeding large gull sp. in iran, and just in the northwest, on lake urmia (which is dying, similar to lake aral). but steppe gulls (breeding basically in southwestern siberia) as well as heuglin's gulls regularly migrate right through the country, towards their wintering grounds on the persian gulf. cachinnans seems to be much rarer, also in the gulf, even though they breed well into eastern kazakhstan. most armenian gulls winter around the red sea and in israel, not so much in the persian gulf.
 
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Muppit17

Well-known member
I probably should have looked at the date, for some reason I was thinking these were a breeding population - which afaik would be Armenian in Iran (is that fair to say Lou or are there other large WHGs within this breeding range? 😳) and that Armenian apparently winter outside Iran according to this excellent paper ..



Anyway, trying to understand the circular nature of large WHG taxonomy and their respective ranges in both winter and summer is for the larophiles - give me Asian buteos any day 😂
I have to agree. When I first moved to the Gulf, the perceived wisdom that the majority of WHG were Armenian. I was confused when I couldn't find any and just assumed it was my poor ID skills. Most were then assumed to be Caspian, except when we sent a few corpses back to the British Museum (not difficult to find as botulism is rife and a big killer of birds in the 'fresh water' pools) they all turned out to be barabensis. So it is now believed that nearly all the gulls in the Gulf are barabensis despite their nesting grounds being a long way east and Caspian being only a short hop away in Kazakhstan.

Having seen Armenian in Georgia and Israel, there is something not quite right with these as Armenian in my mind. It is interesting to see the point in the paper that all the gulls found around Tehran were nominate Caspian. I suspect that is what these are.

I agree with Lou's comment about mantle colour in bright direct light - it is impossible and I would also add that it never appears to come out true to life in photo's.
 

lou salomon

the birdonist
muppit, if you look at the underside of the wingtips in these gulls you'll notice that all adults in which it is visible have a black subterminal mark to the outer primary (p10). this would be at odds with cachinnans (which btw. on current taxonomy is monotypic) - the vast majority of cachinnans have an all white p10 tip. not so steppe gulls - they use to show this subterminal mark and generally smaller mirrors. structurally they can be identic to caspian gulls, especially bill shape. that's why i chose barabensis as the most likely candidate for this seemingly homogenous flock.
 

Muppit17

Well-known member
muppit, if you look at the underside of the wingtips in these gulls you'll notice that all adults in which it is visible have a black subterminal mark to the outer primary (p10). this would be at odds with cachinnans (which btw. on current taxonomy is monotypic) - the vast majority of cachinnans have an all white p10 tip. not so steppe gulls - they use to show this subterminal mark and generally smaller mirrors. structurally they can be identic to caspian gulls, especially bill shape. that's why i chose barabensis as the most likely candidate for this seemingly homogenous flock.
I don't dispute what you are saying, although personally I can't really tell the heavily shadowed underside of the wing tips to my own satisfaction.
I am aware of the taxonomy, I was only quoting the paper, which no doubt was written when barabensis was part of cachinnans rather than fuscus as it is today. (although I am dizzy with all the changes)
I agree that all the birds appear to be the same species, although mantle colour variation confirms what we said earlier.
My point is that on range it is more likely to be cachinnans as confirmed by the paper - although further south on the Gulf coast it would indeed be more likely to be barabensis. I still remember being at the gull colony in Eastern Kazakhstan and being totally confused and just looking up the gull-research.org web pages - where it has 'transition' examples (between the two species!) just brought that confusion back.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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