Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gull Identification: Iceland Gull

I took a photo of this gull last Thursday (Nov. 13), mainly because I hadn't seen much of anything else and I think it was all by itself in a field, an easy photo to capture. It was only this morning that I have really looked at it seriously and now realize I don't know what it is? I am used to seeing Herring Gulls and Ring-billed and Great Black-backed ones. This one is different from those I have mentioned. It does not have black tail feathers and its eye appears black. Its colour is more uniform overall without a strong contrast in patterning. And the black on its bill appears to be graduated.
Any help or suggestions as to its identification would be appreciated. Iceland Gull? Glacous Gull?

16 comments:

Aileni said...

It looks spot-on for a second winter Glaucous Gull - except for the beak.
The dark section should be nearer the tip. Could be an anomaly within normal limits.

me ann my camera said...

I think it is the lacking of a clear cut colouring of the black on the bill that confuses things a bit. I am leaning towards a Glaucous too, but I have never id'ed one before. Thank you for your help.

Mary said...

How about an Iceland first winter? I know nothing about gulls, but it looks like the photo in my Roger Tory Peterson book. They have a dark beak the first winter. It's very lovely, whatever it is!

me ann my camera said...

mary:
That's my dilemma. I don't know much about gulls and it looks a bit like both, Iceland and Glacous, to me. We have had a lot of wind and rain recently and in strange weather conditions sometimes unexpected birds will get blown in from somewhere else. The location where I had seen it is not far away, maybe I will check the field again to see if its still there, ready to pose for more pictures. Thanks for your imput.

Northumbrian Birding said...

For me it looks like an Iceland Gull 1st year the head and bill looks too small for Glaucous which also has a much more sterner brutish look whereas this looks gentler in expression,
Brian

me said...

He was still there when we drove home the following day. It was funny, I would say he was in exactly the same spot as when you and I saw him.

me again said...

I am impressed too, as when we first saw him you said you thought something was a little bit different about him even ... I figured you were just wishful thinking as we hadn't seen anything else in camera range. Of couse I should have known better as you have a sixth sense for charming animals.

Kingsdowner said...

I'm with Brian on this (but rarely commit on gulls). It looks too delicate for an Glaucous, so I'd say it's an Iceland.
Where did you see it? They rarely stray from the coast.

Deborah Godin said...

I don't know if you even want to hear this ( ! ) but I just checked my Sibley's and found two additional pages on Glaucous hybrids...yikes!

me ann my camera said...

Brian, I think the word 'gentle' is an apt adjective and Kingsdowner, your choice of 'delicate' seems to suit the bearing of this gull as well. It appears to have a graceful appearance to it. I am going to go along with the id of it being an Iceland Gull and I am very pleased to do so as it is a life bird for me! Thank you both for your input, it is much appreciated.

me:
I went back this morning to where we had seen the gull, just in case it might be still there, but it was gone of course. Nothing would stay around I don't think after all the heavy rains and winds we had had on the weekend. It never hurts to take a picture though does it. I remember saying that at least I had taken a picture of something, but I didn't really get around to 'really' looking at them until today. Glad I am that I did check them out.

deborah:
I saw those pictures too, before posting, :-),and that's what told me I should seek advice from others before making just a guess on its id. I love the mystery of gathering clues and comparing features. My field guide books sometimes provide the greatest source of excitement and fun for me. Thanks for the mention, my Sibley's is always at the ready.

me ann my camera said...

kingsdowner:
The gull was in a farmer's plowed field about 50 miles inland from the fundy coast. We have had a lot of wind and rain recently and the temperatures had been fairly mild on some days last week. Last Sunday it was a rainy, windy +17C degrees. No snow yet this season!

Deborah Godin said...

It's great fun and educational reading everyone's thought processes about the ID. (And thanks for the link about the N.S. Christmas tree, what a wonderful story I wasn't aware of)

Rambling Woods said...

I loved reading the comments. I live near Lake Erie and the Niagara River and the ID of gulls is so complicated.

New Rambling Woods Site

Rambling Woods said...

Of course I see the most gulls in parking lots...

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Becky and Gary said...

Boy this is a tough one. I had to look it up in my Sibley, and I can't decide. Which ever it is, you have captured it beautifully.

nina said...

We have a rare sighting of a second winter Glaucous Gull in southwestern Ohio.
I don't know if my pics can help you any, but our bird was observed for quite a while and in flight and many confirmed its ID.

See it here