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 Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis

 3cy into 4cy (with greyish-straw legs), Dec 2008/Jan 2009, West Midlands


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Photos taken 29/12/2008
3cy/4cy Yellow-legged Gull with 'fleshy' legs
3cy/4cy Yellow-legged Gull with 'fleshy' legs
3cy/4cy Yellow-legged Gull with 'fleshy' legs
3cy/4cy Yellow-legged Gull with 'fleshy' legs
3cy/4cy Yellow-legged Gull with 'fleshy' legs
Photos below taken 05/01/2009
3cy/4cy Yellow-legged Gull with 'fleshy' legs
3cy/4cy Yellow-legged Gull with 'fleshy' legs
3cy/4cy Yellow-legged Gull with 'fleshy' legs 3cy/4cy Yellow-legged Gull

A. R. Dean

The images above show a third calendar-year going into fourth calendar year michahellis photographed in December 2008 and January 2009. It has deceptively 'colourless' legs. In the field they appeared greyish-flesh, with a slight straw hue detectable at closer range in the right light conditions. At rest the bird appears much like an adult apart from, perhaps, a little too much black in the bill-tip. Hence, at first sight, the leg-colour could be perplexing. However, flight views show just a single mirror - on p10 - and prominent black on the primary coverts, indicating that the bird is not adult and is 3W. At this age, leg colour is more variable and, even though some of this age have already acquired bright yellow legs, others have duller legs.

Note how the apparent hue of the legs depends upon the precise light conditions. In most photos they appear rather colourless or greyish-flesh (recalling hue on many Caspian Gulls). In the photo in the penultimate row (taken during a break in sunshine), the straw component is evident. The head and bill structure, shade of grey of mantle, and distribution of black in the wing-tip (including a black bar across p5) are all indicative of michahellis.

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