Essex Gull

One to Ponder

Photographed in Essex, S.E England on 11 Feb. by Steve Arlow. Pretty striking looking but not one I find straightforward to ID. Neither does Steve I think. Have a look, comments welcome:




very nice photos all copyright Steve Arlow



About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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14 Responses to Essex Gull

  1. David Gray says:

    Interesting bird Martin. This bird could be many things: possible a dark eyed Yellow-legged Gull, maybe an Armenian-type Gull or even a small Caspian Gull type!
    However I think this bird could be a Herring x Caspian Gull hybrid?

  2. California Gull? But the legs are a bit orange, I haven’t got any literature here to check, so probably not.

    • Amar Ayyash says:

      The wingtip pattern seems off for California. California Gulls have a more extensive amount of black on the outer primaries and the legs tend to be more greenish yellow.
      Also, a winter CAGU would show some black subterminal markings on the bill at this time of year.

  3. Jan Jörgensen (JanJ) says:

    Take away the bright yellow legs and perhaps bill, make the legs slightly longer (tibia) and you have a Caspian Gull. Could Herring involment be excluded? A better view of p10 would be nice.
    As usual very good pic from Steve!

  4. Phil Bishop says:

    Caspian x Yellow Legged?

  5. Jan Jörgensen (JanJ) says:

    I`m so cought up with Herring involment when it comes to odd Caspians – meaning – if there are some mix in this gull it might be what Phil suggest, a possible Yellow-legged, in part explaining the bright coloured bare parts (?). The wholly white-tipped p10 and large mirror on p9 combined can be seen in some YLG. However, the long pale tongue in p9 (and possible p10) and possible p8 doesn´t look so good for a pure YLG. Again, what would exclude a pure (with bright-coloured bare parts) Caspian, It is after all England. I would love to see more pic of this exiting gull!

  6. Hans Larsson says:

    I´d go for a female-type Caspian! I guess this is the time of the year to find the brightly coloured ones. Here´s an example from Italy:

  7. seawatcheruk says:

    Classic omissus.

  8. Dean Nicholson says:

    Wouldn’t it be possible from the shots to trait score this bird using criteria set out in the recent identification of Casp paper (part 2 – hybrids & less typicals etc) in BB?
    Not entirely sure how accurate this would be without describing ALL features (for eg the tongue to underside of p10) but interesting to see where this bird would fall. I would have a crack myself but literally just leant my copy out so nothing to work off for the time being….
    For what it’s worth i personally think this bird looks ok for a small fem type Casp but i’m also thinking can ‘omissus’ in it’s many guises be ruled out – i find that more often than not the complete band to p5 (which is quite broad on this bird) is lacking on Yellow legged argies, usually showing nothing more than i smudge confined to the outer web? This i’m sure is variable though….
    A smart looking bird……nice one Steve

  9. Steve Arlow says:

    One of the off putting aspects of this bird being omissus is the small dark eye fairly forward in the face.

    The lightweight slender bill with dark mark is more typical of Cachinnans whilst the head is small and rounded, there’s not a hint of anyt dark streaking around the head and neck.

    The wing pattern seems to be a moixed bag of both argentatus and cachinnans whilst the leg colour is probably far to rich and intense to be a cachinnans, if this bird is then its got the brightest legs I’ve come across in the several hundred cachinanns I’ve now seen in the UK.

    This bird just doesn’t want to give itself up to either being a argentatus, a cachinanns or michahellis. I leaning towards a michie x cachinnans hybrid at present.

    Jan these images are the best I have of this bird, the others I took really don’t anything to help ID the bird.


  10. Jan Jörgensen (JanJ) says:

    It seems that the bright yellow leg colour is the most problematic feature of Steve´s gull. Probably a vast majority of adult/near adult Caspian in midvinter lack such bright yellow legs, they can show bright yellow bills though.
    Here´s one by Cristian Mihai from Bucharest in 09 Feb:


  11. seawatcheruk says:

    Steve, having looked through loads of images over the past couple of days I also now go for a michahellis/cachinnans mix.


  12. Martin Garner says:

    Thanks guys for great set of responses

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