Sunday, December 7, 2008

Easy-peasy first winter gulls on Cape Ann

Seams like no matter where you live, there’s some gulls that can give you fits. Here in Gloucester, our common, every-day garden variety gulls are Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls.

These gulls are both White-headed (genus Larus) gulls and very large ones at that. Most readers in the US will know the Ring-billed Gull which is also a Larus gull, but much smaller. The Ring-billed gull is a winter bird here.

This time of year, the first year Great Black-backed gulls and the Herring Gulls are going into their winter plumage. Both are brown and white mottled on the back, both are large gulls with pink legs and the bills on these first year birds are black. Once you get used to them, the difference are easy to spot.

First let’s look at the Great Black-backed gull. We see that the head is white and the under parts are also white.

First winter Great Black-backed Gull. © 2008 ShootingMyUniverse

Here we have the first year Herring gull. Not that the head is dark and the under parts are brown.

First winter Herring Gull. © 2008 ShootingMyUniverse

I generally keep a three of four field guides at my finger tips, especially when the winter gulls come to Cape Ann. We get can get some Iceland, Glaucous and Lesser Black-backed gulls.

10 comments:

Eve said...

This is great Steve. I've only seen the GBB in summer drab. Our most common year round gull is the Ring-billed. Beautiful but like to eat your hotdogs right off the grill!!

You might have missed this...

http://sunnysideup-eve.blogspot.com/2008/12/thanks-carolynn.html

I just want you to know I was thinking of you!

NCmountainwoman said...

Good information on the distinctions. I tend to clump them in a group called "gulls." Perhaps I will try harder to identify them.

Kallen305 said...

Your gulls are much more attractive than mine.

The first picture is great. I have never seen a closeup of a gulls feet before and while they are rather odd looking, they look to be pretty functional for living near the water. ;o)

A New England Life said...

Great gull shots! I've tried to keep the 'varieties' straight but it's just not happening. lol!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Great shots Steve. We have only one king and that is the Greyheaded Gull and he is not interesting looking at all.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

LOL!! Read as "one kind" not "one king".

Steve B said...

Hi Eve, Thanks for the kind words about your community. It makes all the work worth while.

Our brazen beach gull has to be the Herring gull. They know to look through beach bags when they are unattended. On Cape Cod, my dad had a burger taken right out of his hand as he was going to take a bite.

Steve B said...

Hi Kim, Sharon and NCMountainWoman, I only called the adults before I came here. But seeing them every day, day in and day out, I began to tell them apart. Send me back to Colorado or California and I'll be back at square 1. :b

Steve B said...

Hi Joan, That sounds too easy, the problem here is that these gulls take four years to mature and the juvies do not look like mom and pop! Oi!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Some of these birds drive me crazy when trying to identify them, they can moult up to 7 times before they have their full plumage, then there are all the inbetween stages. LOL!!

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