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Yellow-legged, Caspian or hybrid? Danube delta (1 Viewer)

Doc Duck

Registered User
Supporter
Judging by the bill (fairly straight and narrow, red patch only on lower mandible), I thought this was another Caspian gull. All the other big gulls we'd been seeing were Caspians. But as MTem pointed out when I posted this one in my gallery, the eye is pale and he's showing a bit of yellow leg. The image was taken August 28, which is rather late in the season for a Caspian to have yellow legs. So could this be a Yellow-legged, but with a narrower than usual bill? Or perhaps a Caspian X Yellow-legged hybrid?

Hmmm. Still having trouble uploading the image, as was the case last time I tried to post a query here. Don't know what's wrong. It's in jpeg and not oversized. And it won't upload as a link either, but you can find it in the gallery here: http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/540198/ppuser/85173
 

lou salomon

the birdonist
hi doc,

it's a straight caspian gull. bill shape is very typical for male caspian as is the rest of it: eyes placed closer to forehead on a long head, long bill (note heavy gonys in such male brutes!), large p10 mirror (visible in left wing tip) and rectangular large p9 mirror (visible in right wing tip). in YLG p9 mirror usually round.
pale eye - they can get even much paler, a greenish tingue is commonly found. as for yellow legs: a few caspians have yellow legs all year round. see the attached female i photogr. on 16.08.2015 not far south from the danube delta. you might have a look in the adult basic (non-breeding) caspian gallery here as well: http://www.lou.bertalan.de/gulls/m_grp.php?g=cachinnans adult basic (jul-dec)
your pic would nicely fit here, i'll p.m. you my email.

best,
 

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MTem

Well-known member
Thanks Lou, it was me that questioned the ID in the Gallery - I must confess I have never seen a photo of a Caspian with such a pale eye. The British Birds paper on Caspian gull ID (March 2010 - 103) says in the comments section In Appendix 1 for adults 'Although eye colour is key in giving cachinnans their characteristic look, apparently Yellow-leggd and Herring gulls can retain dark eyes, while pale eyes can appear dark in poor light or at a distance (good views are essential'. This to me implied the risk was dark-eyed YLG and HG, not the reverse, however in the text it says (pg 175) 'truly pale (clean yellow) eyes are rare in cachinnans'

I guess the key point is 'rare' but not 'never'!
Again I have learnt something - also that some retain yellow legs this late in the year.
My thanks to you for the ID and to Ann (Docduck) for humouring me and posting here!

Mick
 

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