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Herring Gull with grey head (aberrant)? (Dutch coast, IJmuiden, July 6th 2023) (1 Viewer)


Frank van de Velde
This evening I saw this Gull approaching over the beach and dunes. Its dark gray head and breast really stood out even from a large distance, so I ran up a dune to take pictures. Due to the very nice evening sun it's not even that obvious in the pictures, but its head and breast were really dark.

What did I see? A Herring Gull with a plumage aberration?

Bye, Frank


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Thanks for posting that interesting series of pictures, Frank! You were quick on your feet and captured some stunning pictures of an interesting bird for sure. We get lots of Herring Gulls in Alaska but I’ve never seen one with the plumage shown in your pictures, nor could I find any similar illustrations in any of my bird guides. I did some internet sleuthing and saw quite a few examples of Herring Gulls with varying amounts of grey on the head, neck and breast, but I think they were all winter birds. Most of the pictures below come from Amsterdam or are example of the Vega Herring Gull. I normally see adults in breeding plumage up here or chicks/young birds as they hatch so this was an interesting post. Sorry I can’t help except to say the grey on the head/neck/breast is so fine and even it certainly looks like aberrant plumage rather than a Herring Gull with a screwed-up molt clock. Thanks for posting your pictures!


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I've seen quite some pics of large gulls with such smooth dark grey, either on whole body or just part of them and consesus among gullers always was that this is staining.

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