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Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides

Iceland Gull photo index
Iceland Gull Photo Index

Nominate race is a scarce winter visitor. Numbers vary from year to year, with relatively few in several years between 1999 and 2006 and again in 2010 and 2011 but there has been an overall increasing trend.
There are additionally 12 or 13 records of the race kumleini ('Kumlein's Gull').


As with Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull is a regular but scarce winter visitor to the West Midlands Region. Prior to around 1990 it was recorded less frequently than Glaucous Gull but, during the early 1990s, numbers of Iceland Gulls increased at the same time as Glaucous Gull became scarcer. Iceland Gull also declined during the early 2000s and the two species were at that time recorded with similar frequency. Both species then increased from 2007 but Iceland Gulls much more significantly. During 2009 and 2012 exceptional numbers reached the region (between 60 and 70 individuals) but the two years in-between (2010 and 2011) were very poor. Also notable in 2012 was the high proportion of individuals reported as 2W (c. 40%) but, as individuals were noted from January through to April, it again raises the issue of distinguishing between paler and faded juvenile/1W individuals (especially in their 2 cy when the iris can also begin to look paler) and darker 2W individuals. (The current practice of describing all individuals in their first- and early second-calendar years as 'juveniles' (based upon the lack of a significant moult rather than a seasonal attribution) may perhaps exacerbate the tendency to diagnose any notably pale individual as 2W?)

Annual distribution

The annual distribution of Iceland Gulls between 1986 and 2015 is presented in Figure 1.


Annual totals of Iceland Gulls, 1986-2015

Figure 1. Annual distribution of Iceland Gulls in the West Midland Region, 1986 - 2015.

For further discussion of the comparative long term trends of these two species see Glaucous Gull.

Monthly distribution

The monthly distribution of arrival dates of Iceland Gulls between 1986 and 2010 is presented in Figure 3.

Monthly distribution of Iceland Gulls, 1986-2010


Figure 3. Monthly distribution of arrival dates of Iceland Gulls in the West Midlands Region, 1986 - 2010.

As with Glaucous Gull, most records fall between December and March (95%), with a peak during January (35%). Comparatively, a slightly lower proportion occurs during January (38% c.f. 41%) and a higher proportion during February and March (44% c.f. 33%). Thus, the monthly distribution of arrivals is skewed slightly later in the winter compared with Glaucous Gull.

Kumlein's Gull

The nominate race of Iceland Gull, which breeds in Greenland, is replaced by the race kumleini from Baffin Island to NW Quebec. Colloquially known as Kumlein's Gull, this race differs from the nominate race principally in displaying grey markings, of varying shade and prominence, on p6 to p10. There have been 11 or 12 * individuals of this form in the West Midlands region, of which one in 2008 visited both Worcs and Warks while one in 2009 visited all four counties. Thus, between 1980 and 2013, four have visited Staffordshire, five or six * Worcestershire, three Warwickshire, and three the West Midlands County.

Westport Lake, Staffs, juvenile, December 30th 1979 - January 12th 1980.

Blithfield Reservoir, Staffs, adult, February 14th 1999.

Draycote Water, Warks, adult, January 1st 2001.

Westwood Pool, Worcs, adult, March 1st 2003.

Westwood Pool , Worcs, second-winter, November 27th - December 1st 2005; also Throckmorton Tip on November 28th and Hartlebury Tip on November 30th.

Westwood Pool & Throckmorton, Worcs, juvenile (1W), February 3rd - 6th 2008, with same individual then at
Draycote Water, Warks, February 6th - 9th, 2008.

A second-winter individual visited several sites in the region during February and March 2009:

Bartley Reservoir, WMids, adult, December 15th 2011.

Throckmorton, Worcs, adult, February 8th - 14th 2012.

Blithfield Reservoir, Staffs, 'sub-adult', February 28th 2012.

Bartley Reservoir, WMids, 2W, February 2nd 2013.

Draycote Water, Warks, juv (1W), January 13th - 17th 2015 with same individual at
Bubbenhall Landfill on January 22nd & 24th 2015 and then at
Wyre Piddle and Pinvin area on January 25th 2015/

(* A juvenile reported from Wildmoor, Worcs, on December 16th, 17th, 20th, 21st & 27th, 2013, was described as 'showing some features of this race', which seems rather equivocal).

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