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Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans

First-winter, December 13th 2005, West Midlands


Caspian Gull, 1W, West Midlands, Dec 2005

Caspian Gull, 1W, West Midlands, Dec 2005

Caspian Gull, 1W, West Midlands, Dec 2005

A. R. Dean

A 'first-winter Caspian Gull' photographed at Frankley Reservoir, West Midlands. A small, quite delicate and 'unassuming' individual, probably indicating a female. In the top photo, note (a) relatively small head and slender bill, creating a rather gentle demeanour; (b) clean, whitish head and fore neck, with streaking confined to lower, rear of neck (creating a partial shawl); (c) fresh mantle and scapulars feathers, grey with internal anchor marks; (d) greater coverts and median coverts rather uniformly brown but with pale tips, combining to form pale lines either side of darker bands across the wing; (e) solidly dark tertials apart from neat white crescents at tips; (f) very black-looking wing-point; (g) dull pinkish base to bill but blackish distal colour extending back along cutting edges; (h) rather long pale pink legs, with evident tibia ('above the knee'). The four tones (white, grey, brown and black), fore to aft, which characterise first-winter Caspian Gull are very apparent here. The second photo, which is more precisely in profile, shows better the head and bill structure: a small head with a rather low and 'extended' forehead, leading into a slim, parallel-sided and rather pointed bill; the bill lacks a prominent gonys. The lower photograph shows the characteristic pale underwing of first-winter Caspian Gull, and also the rather long legs.

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