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Help in gull ID from Moscow, Russia (1 Viewer)

Pasha

Well-known member
Dear colleagues,

Please, help Moscow birdwatchers with a gull identification that was found at Mosow River, Russia on Dec 7.
A considerable distance of viewing and hard sunlight do not make the identification easy, so we are considering the following options:
1) quite compact and small Herring Gull, perhaps female
2) rather robust and thick-billed Mew Gull, perhaps, Larus canus henei
3) Ring-billed Gull (that will be the first record in our region)
What is your oppinion?

Regards and stay safe...
 

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Steve Lister

Senior Birder, ex County Recorder, Garden Moths.
United Kingdom
The rather large-headed build along with the bill suggest a first-winter Ring-billed Gull. Certainly not a Common Gull.

Steve
 

Phil Bishop

Well-known member
I think it looks good for a Ring Billed. Don't know a great deal about the eastern 'Herring' types, like Armenian, but I'm sure we can safely exclude Common/Mew gull.
 

SteveClifton

Well-known member
Can certainly see the resemblance to RBG but both it and Common Gull can be excluded because of the dark centred tertials with broad white fringes.

It's a 2cy large white-headed gull sp.
Either Herring or as Ken suggested, perhaps Armenian, but the latter is a species I have no experience with. A number of images I've seen online of Armenian Gulls certainly have more than a passing resemblance to Ring-billed Gull (and indeed to the bird above), so I suspect that's what it might be.

See for example: http://www.gull-research.org/armenicus/2cy/2cynov11.html
 
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Pasha

Well-known member
Thanks a lot Ken, Steve, Phil and Steve!
The Armenian Gull is an interesting idea, however I can not image how it can reach Moscow from its limited range on the Middle East...
As far as I understand the terminology, the plumage parts are as follows on the attached pic.
So the tertials are quite light, whereas the greater coverts and scapulars are with dark center and white fringe... Or I am wrong?
 

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SteveClifton

Well-known member
Thanks a lot Ken, Steve, Phil and Steve!
The Armenian Gull is an interesting idea, however I can not image how it can reach Moscow from its limited range on the Middle East...
As far as I understand the terminology, the plumage parts are as follows on the attached pic.
So the tertials are quite light, whereas the greater coverts and scapulars are with dark center and white fringe... Or I am wrong?

Hi Pasha, I agree with what you have labelled as the tertials (very dark centres, broad pale fringes) and that most are second generation. However, at least one (possibly 2?) inner tertial appears to have been replaced for a third generation (grey) feather (directly below the left hand end of your label 'greater').

I had no idea when I mentioned Armenian Gull that they weren't really a viable option in your region, so I'm sorry if I misled you. I broke my own 'rule' of trying not to comment unless I have direct field experience of a species or race.

The superficial resemblance of your bird to either Ring-billed or Armenian Gulls should be eliminated (on plumage and geographical likelihood respectively) so I would conclude that your bird is most likely a 2nd calendar year European Herring Gull, unless someone else with more experience in the region can offer another suitable possibility. If not a Herring Gull then it's certainly a 2cy (or older) large gull, but my lack of familiarity with what's possible in your region limits my knowledge of what else might be likely?

2cy Herring (or even 3cy) can certainly look like your bird-the range of variation is huge, as it is in most large gulls.

Both Common Gull and Ring-billed Gulls would only show brown tertials in their first year (and then, not so dark as in your bird, nor with such bold white fringes). Both should have plain grey second generation tertials by the time they reach their second winter. Likewise, the wing coverts (mainly greaters visible in your pics) are of a type consistent with a 2cy+ large gull species, and definitely don't match either 1cy or 2cy Common or Ring-billed.
 
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smiths

Well-known member
I cannot see this as a Herring Gull.
Better photos are needed to confirm, but it looks like a first-cycle gull that has replaced all wing coverts and tertials.
The primaries seem to be first generation, as far as it is possible to tell from these pics.
That would mean that not only the plumage but also the bill pattern is very advanced.

Shape and the advanced plumage and bill all fit Armenian Gull rather well.
It may be an unlikely possibility on range (I think the nearest wintering area is the eastern Black Sea coast, which is nearly 2000 km south of Moscow...) but then again there has been a record of this species in Denmark that was recently accepted.
Another possibility is a barabensis type.

In any case, it seems well worth looking for this gull again and taking better photographs (including flight shots).
 

Pasha

Well-known member
Dear colleagues,

Thanks a lot for a thorough study of the pictures and valuable discussions! Nice, that we eliminated RBG and MG from the possibilities list.
We will consider HG and AG and will try to find the bird once again, hope that it will winter on our grounds.

Take care and have a nice season holidays!
 

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