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gulls (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Well I didn´t think so much of where Howard has taken his gull. Armenian and Steppe Gull are quite similar but the short blunt-tipped bill and small mirror which is situated further from the tip, the last not a full proof ID mark, but looking at lots of images there seems to be a tendency for Armenian to show this character. Also stance seems to favour Armenian.



Thanks for this information this is really useful - have been trying to get to the bottome of names for some time - I will change my lists - accordingly

howard, just a clarification on recent use of gull names, since you used some on your website:

larus fuscus generally is called lesser-black-backed gull but as a distinction from western races graellsii and intermedius, the nominate race fuscus (which winters at your place) often is called baltic gull. so the ones you see (small, black mantled and very long winged) are "baltic gulls".

larus (fuscus) heuglini usually is called siberian gull (or heuglin's gull)
larus (cachinnans/heuglini) barabensis = steppe gull
larus cachinnans = caspian gull (since yellow-legged gull is used only for larus michahellis.

i love your recent underwing flight shots - quite of a hell to separate siberian, steppe and eastern caspian just from underwing...though i'd like to have a discussion about those birds. some i think are id-able with some probability.

to give you an honest answer to ans your question " isn't armenian very scarce if not even a rarity in the gulf region" they are probablly more common than thought - the problem is they are amonst so many unknowns and the startard of local GULL ID is I think - if its anything like mine bloody useless
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lou salomon

the birdonist
sorry andrew that i go on with LWHG again:
this cachinnans shows a mark on p4, a solid black bar on p5 and a subterminal mark on p10 - indication of a younger age (5-6cy maybe?) or indication of a more easterly origin (caspian sea, nominate cachinnans)?
i know about variation suggested in western and eastern birds in this respect but when i saw such ponticus-birds in the danube delta i always found they are not fully adult.

these are examples of birds in breeding time from the danube delta:

- 1st one very probably a 4cy (in may/june)
- 2nd could be 5cy (possibly older)
- 3rd is one of the breeding adults in a colony, which consistantly all (that i could see) had a long white p10 tip, a large p9 mirror, usually a narrow band on p5 and no black on p4.

on the recent bird from netfugl i can't see any signs of immaturity else than the large amount of black in outer primaries - or it is an eastern bird.


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lou salomon

the birdonist
and the everlasting old question: are able to say what these are?
(bucharest, 24.1.2008, foto: cr. mihai)


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Well-known member
Nice gulls Lou.

Impossible of course to know the exact age of a gull unless it´s ringed (banded). A set of criterias - such as variable dark markings on the primary coverts (but see exception in LBBG below), eye colour or bill colour/dark markings and number of primaries with black markings. We don´t know the full geographical variation and range of Caspian Gull just yet (or ever to be?). Chris Batty,s, gull certainly looks like a Caspian of eastern origin - being taken in Israel, but there are also those who looks similar to the once I see here at home as well!


Usually most adult Caspian seen in western Europe has a primary pattern more or less like this:
Sweden 4 Dec. (Aron Andersson)


next two same as above:



and this German bird also Dec. (Benjamin Steffen)







Note the tiny black dots on tip of p10:





Tampere 6 Dec. (Hannu Koskinen)


Note the slightly broader mark in p5 and the tiny dot on p4 in this bird.


Stopping there for now - or else I would continue all night. ;)





Well-known member
The two 1st winters in #184 - although variable - have tail bands that could in principal sit on Yellow-legged, CAspian or Herring. The inner primary pattern - a more or less dark outer web line/pale inner web line a Yellow-legged CAspian feature compared to argentatus which usually looks like this (some variable pattern)





Well, the upper one looks darker and the lower could even be considered as a GBBG, while the upper could be a Yellow-legged. They are probably not Herrings by the way.


lou salomon

the birdonist
i was wondering if we could get some clues wether they were cachinnans or michahellis, both of which winter at the herastrau park in bucharest at the moment and i think inner primaries in both birds limit the spectrum to these 2 species.
both have very plain greater coverts, no checkered patterning visible, maybe faded some bit already, but both caspian and YLG can have that - better for caspian usually.
to my feeling the upper bird is a michahellis and the lower a cachinnans.
another pro caspian feature could be the 2 narrow additional band in the tail of the lower bird. GBBG with such greater coverts???
both still could be YLGs...
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I don't think you will have any problems identifying these as taken yesterday but you might like to pass comment on age moult etc. I have some more to come from yesterday including much younger birds of the same but have to go to work now so will put them up later


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lou salomon

the birdonist
1st bird is an ad armenian (pics 1+2)
2nd possibly a 4cy heuglini
3rd ad armenian/barabensis? maybe looks better for armenicus
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lou salomon

the birdonist
attached is one that has been discussed in club300.de as possibly eastern cachinnans or even michahellis(!) - for me just a (prob.) ponticus with yellower than usual legs and bill for december. possibly breeding hormones already rising? dec. 2007, foto benjamin steffen, konstanz, southern germany.
what is it to you?

and talking about cachinnans with unusual wingpattern: here a bird wintering in austria (at the danube) from the dnepr river, south of kiew:


it doesn't have black on p5 at all but a tiny broken subterminal band on p10. see the lightish coloured iris, and the nice irregular tongues on underwing outer primaries!


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Lou not certain myself for your bird but it does seem a little heavy up front for cachinnans and don't have information on ponticus thus I will see if I have any images of one for December last to compare for leg and bill colour etc.

For bird in link - I have seen this type of wing pattern before somewhere I will have to go through my old photos and see what I can find

For my last posting had the last image down as barabensis
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lou salomon

the birdonist
it can be barabensis. but it has a lot of black in bill tip (we don't see the bill from the side to judge its tip), not the vertical stance of barabensis, the small mirror in p10 sits further down from the tip, so?

as for the heavy front - this is said to be a good feature for cachinnans in flight. look at these from danube delta:


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Well-known member
I don´t see why the german Caspian Gull (primary pattern - both sides, bill size/pattern, smallish dark eye with red orbital ring down to leg colour - could not be, firstly a Caspian, secondly a western bird. All the characters mentioned could more or less fit a Yellow-legged, except for the primary pattern. Unusual to say the least, the suggested Caspian on forumromanum, with no visible dark markings on p5. That makes me suspicious. The very pale eye which also looks big and no sign of a red orbital ring, Herring Gull involment?
Nice set of Caspian Gulls. Another character often seen in flying Caspian is a 'bump' on the breast, going over in flatish underparts ending with a second 'bump' in front of the legs.


Some more p-pattern:





Well-known member
Hello Howard & all.

The third gull looks good for heuglini, slim bill, spotted neck, dark around the eye with a dark line from behind the eye, p10 not fully grown, good indication for heuglini.
The first one with it´s short stout looking bill actually looks good for 3rd winter type Armenian. Seems to be no dark markings on p4.
Nr 4 is more uncertain - stout-billed barabensis or Armenian?



Morning chaps

As for Caspian Gull

"the heavy front - this is said to be a good feature for cachinnans in flight" or "Another character often seen in flying Caspian is a 'bump' on the breast, going over in flatish underparts ending with a second 'bump' in front of the legs"

had never considered these features before I always had the impression obviously wrong that Caspian Gull were slighter than this -I will obviously have to pay more attention to shape rather than concentrating just on wing in flight
I like this one

Was lucky with this photo just got wing tips in the shot taken on the 26th Jan 08


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lou salomon

the birdonist
which of course looks like an eastern cachinnans with those tongues eating into black wing tips.
but who knows what kind of mixtures there exist between barabensis and cachinnans, and even argentatus - i remind of panov's paper (attached) on the intergradation of argentatus - cachinnans in the upper and lower volga basin, it is worth reading again since it seems to contradict some western points of view. have a look at the proposed directions of gene flow (page 131) and the drawn wingpatterns of argentatus, cachinnans, heuglini and barabensis (page 135).
those "bastards" are likely to winter in your area as well, howard. it's not the easiest chapter of id-problems ;)


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