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Saunder's Gull Central Japan (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
I think this might be Saunder's Gull rather than the Black-headed Gull I assumed it was when I took the photos (about 150 metres; 300mm lens). The bill is clearly black and stubby, the legs are deep red, and it was by itself - I don't think I've ever seen a solitary Black-headed (but there's always a first time). I don't know if the wing pattern fits, as I'm not much good with gulls.

It was on a pond, but only a couple of kilometres from the sea, in Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture. It would be a first for me, but for people who spend a lot of time looking at gulls, it would be a 'nice catch' not ultra-rare in the general area if it was Saunder's.

If anyone can confirm or deny, I'd be grateful.


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Well-known member
That's great. Thank you both very much. It's a first for me (although there are always a few around, I'm told, going 70 or 80 km to the coast and then hoping one of the few flies past you is a bit of a stretch for me given that I'm not a guller).

We went to the spot for a Swan Goose and a Lesser White-fronted Goose (the former a first for me, and I believe not annual in Japan, and vulnerable anyway, and the latter a first clear view). But because it was the first week of the year, I took shots of everything I saw just to start my year list off. I did think it was funny to have a single Black-headed, but was concentrating on the geese.

On the way back home we stopped to try to get a Taiga Flycatcher (another first for me, as it's much much rarer than Red-breasted in Japan, although Red-breasted is rare anyway).

Although we knew the Taiga was in this particular park, we didn't know where, and the park turned out to be much bigger than I remembered. We arrived at 3pm, chose a car park at random, walked 100m and found some cameramen photographing a bird. But it turned out to be a Kingfisher, and the cameramen were not birders at all, and had no idea what a flycatcher was, let alone where it was.

So, we walked on and 100 metres later found a single cameraman who amazingly turned out to be the only one for the Taiga Flycatcher on that day (it's been around for a couple of months). He showed us some photos he had taken earlier; if he had gone home after taking them, we would never have found the spot because there would have been no-one there, and nothing to indicate this was the spot. We waited 45 minutes, the light was going, and we were five minutes from giving up, when the bird came right onto a fallen tree (typhoon) right in front of us, and then posed front, back, sideways, tail up, tail down all in only a minute. Perfect.

It was a 250km round-trip day with very expensive motorway tolls, but was worth it.

And with an unexpected Saunder's Gull, also a first for me, that's an even greater start to the year than I already thought I had.

The first bird I saw to notice in the New Year was a Goshawk at my regular local spot, so I thought that might be an omen.

Happy New Year to all.

Thanks again.

Andy Hurley

All nations have the right to govern themselves
Opus Editor
MacNara, your dedication is paying off! Congratulations on the lifers


Well-known member
Incidentally, the Japanese for Black-headed Gull means 'Lily Gull', I don't know why. And the Japanese for Saunder's Gull means 'Black-headed Gull'.

This happens often. The Japanese for Grey Wagtail means 'Yellow Wagtail' and English Yellow Wagtail is 'Long-clawed Wagtail' in Japanese.

The weirdest is that the 'Japanese Robins' called Luscinia akahige (Japanese Robin) and Luscinia komadori (Ryukyu Robin) are called respectively Komadori and Akahige in Japanese, i.e the reverse of the Latin names. The reason it's weird is that the Latin names seem to be correct, and the Japanese names reversed. 'Akahige' means 'Redbeard' but it's the bird with a black throat which gets this name in Japanese, while the bird with a red beard is called Komadori (horse, foal, knight (chess)) bird.

Anyway, almost as strange as getting four new birds on this one day was seeing our first Barn Swallow on 3rd January. Two months early.

Thanks to those who responded to or looked at this thread and happy new year to you all.
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