2nd time in Britain

A ringed Marsh Gull

Dean Nicholson’s persistence with the gulls has paid off. Watching at Hykeham, Lincolnshire he came across a yellow-legged Herring Gull in early February 2012. – an ‘omissus-type’. Big news was it had a readable ring on. Well now we can see the bird’s fuller story. I think it’s only the 2nd time a yellow-legged Herring Gull (old Marsh Gull) from Finland has been seen in Britain- the last being an adult found dead in Essex ( I think?). Fascinating stuff!

Here it is , then read on:

“Hi Martin

 Below are the full details of the Finnish ringed ‘omissus’,

 It is confirmed as having been rung at the nest as an adult (female) in Ruovesi, Hame, Finland on 29/05/2007, it was also recorded in Finland at Tampere in 2009 and 2010 and mine is the only sighting thus far outside of Finland.

 The legs on this bird were pretty bright and could potentially elicit confusion with michahellis to the unwary. It’s perhaps worth mentioning also that this bird also lacked a full band on p5 (in fact I hardly noticed any black at all on p5?) but showed typical full white tip to p10 and a large mirror on p9.

I wonder if all/most ‘omissus’ types seen in Britain come from the same area? There are certainly some birds which look better than others in terms of leg colouration but this bird seemed better than some I’ve seen with strong yellow covering the whole legs and feet.

 It was ringed at the nest along the lake edge (hence presumably where the term ‘Marsh Gull’ comes from?), Quite a few birds I have seen in Britain show intermediate leg colouration with some being consistently bright yellow (like this bird) and some with just a slight yellowish tone…. one bird even had yellow tarsus/tibia but pinkish feet(!)…..

 Well at least we now know where some of these yellow legged birds come from…..I certainly would have been more surprised if this bird had originated away from Finland.”

All the best, Dean

 Ringing Data

 Ring number:   HT260479
Species:   Herring Gull Larus argentatus      wing – 430.0mm     weight – 920.0g
Sex:   Female
Age:   Full-grown, hatched before 2004
Ringing date:   29.05.2007
Ringing place:   RUOVESI, HAME, FINLAND
Coordinates:   61′ 51′ N  23′ 52′ E
Status:   Healthy, wild bird
Catching method:   Caught at nest
 Recovery Data
 Verification of the ring:   Number not verified  
Species:   Herring Gull
Age:   Full-grown hatched before 2010
Recovery date:   08.02.2012
Coordinates:   53′ 11′ N  0′ 36′ W
Status:   Alive
Recovery Code:   bird identified from coloured or numbered leg rings
Additional Comments:   Yellow C02CN
 Elapsed time:   4 years, 8 months, 10 days
Distance:   1738 km; direction WSW from ringing place
 Previous reports
 Tampere, Finland 06.07 – 21.07.2007
Tampere, Finland 22.03 – 15.06.2008
Nokia, Finland 29.03 – 18.04.2009
Tampere, Finland 30.05.2009
Tampere, Finland 18.07.2010

About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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8 Responses to 2nd time in Britain

  1. darrell j prest says:

    im confused! 25 years ago ‘omissus’ was good, its even mentioned some books i have, then around 1997 it was declared as a ‘intergrade’ and ignored in a BB paper by yourself i think?
    this is one of the reasons i gave up looking for gulls ten years ago, reason no one can actually say or write about a ‘pure’ gull,as no one can honestly knows what one looks likes!
    this what i call ‘feather waffle’ is now descending down to more birds,take the fantastic Great Grey Shrike, a few years ago to find one locally,one would be met with birders saying ‘well done’,’nice find’ etc. now your met with ‘what race’ ‘have you seen what pattern the tertials are’ and if not then you are ridiculed!
    anyway i consider myself a good birder with some decent finds,but when it comes down to shades of yellow on gulls legs then im afraid its time to pack in birding and go back to a birdwatcher

    • You have some excellent points, Darrell. This is a problem with every bird species. What level you want to be on is totally up to oneself. Many have today taken it the extra step after the development of cameras and optics. Many birders means that the point with birdwatching is to find rear birds, others are more interested in variation, a third group may want to find out more about single species and make better ID conditions. Of course to make better ID conditions you will need to find the specie, and you have to get into the variation, so they kind of go hand in hand.
      The point with all this is that each individual have to make up their own way of birding, and a lot of them choose to not study gulls that much (something that is very understandable when you thinks about the massive variation)
      When we talks about gulls and variation, what do you think about this one? http://oagull.blogspot.com/2012/03/heavily-marked-1cy-common-gull.html

    • Martin Garner says:

      Hi Darrell

      Thanks for this. I get what you are saying and I think Sindre has given an excellent response. Unfortunately ‘feather waffle’ has been going on for a lot longer than my bird watching experience. In the case of the grey shrikes, the differences merited 4 different subspecies in Europe at one stage in the past. Much of my (our?) birding has been in a more conservative era and the pendulum I think is just swinging back the other way, alongside developments like amazing optics, cameras and even molecular research Whatever way you do your watching of birds- I hope it continues to inspires you. That’s always my (real) personal goal- otherwise I would give up and do something else.

      Hope you have a great spring


  2. Mark Grantham says:

    There are nine records of Finnish-ringed Herring Gulls in the UK (all bar one ringed as nestlings), although it won’t be recorded by BTO if any of these were ‘Marsh Gull’. Most have been colour-ring sightings, but dead birds have been found in London (1997), Kent (2010) and Lincolnshire (2010).

    • Martin Garner says:

      Hi Mark

      Input much appreciated, even if it shows up my ignorance! I didn’t realise there had been that many ringed birds which I guess means they are a little more regular than I (and perhaps others) had assumed.

      Cheers Martin

      • I saw the London bird which was IDed by some so called surveyors as Yellow-legged Gull. Even with my limited knowledge back in those days it was not a Yellow-legged I recall the head structure being wrong. I called other locals about including Phil Vines. As far as I know no one else went to see it. It was not in a good state when I saw it and allowed me to get close to it. It was on the High Maynard Reservoir at Walthamstow Reservoirs in North London.

  3. Sean Minns says:

    I find this interesting. I photographed a gull with yellow legs, a 3rd year bird – (2nd summer ) at Ardleigh Reservoir in Essex in May 2011. I posted some shots of the bird on Birdforum,as the bird in question wasn’t quite right for Yellow-legged Gull. The only opinion from the one person (Lou Salomon) that replied was that it possibly fitted ‘Omissus’ Herring, but he couldn’t be sure.

    I thought at first it was a Yellow-legged, but couldn’t quite fit it to all the features for that taxon. So I am wondering if this is an ‘Omissus’ type or odd Yellow-legged. I saw a pair of ‘Omissus’-type gulls in Finland, but both were adults, so not great for comparison.

    See the thread here for photos of the bird :http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=200383

    Any thoughts welcome.


    Sean Minns

    • Martin Garner says:

      Hi Sean

      Thanks for this. there are a number of aspects to your bird that are odd, for the most part highlighted by Lou. I think without seeing all those details including getting an idea of the bird’s appearance on the ground its hard to make a good call. The tail pattern is a little odd, the upperwing coverts not right for Y L Gull, but some ad argenteus Herring Gull have yellow legs- possible for advanced immature to as well I suppose and the spectre of LBB hybrid is there too. Doesn’t really make me think of nominate argentatus types at that age, but as said ideally need more info/ perched etc

      sorry, not much help!


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