Another work trip, this time fiddling with some Art at Venice Biennale. I had the odd hour during lunch or before work to spend some time photographing local larids. This post, inspired by one of my favourite of Chris Gibbins blog posts from a few years back, will hopefully be just as helpful as a reference point and display of variation within Yellow Legged Gulls as post in the link was for me with Caspian Gulls. Dont give a shit about gulls??? Fear not you can scroll right down to the bottom and there are some Black Redstarts and Black-Necked Grebes thrown in too!
Just a load of images really, showing variation throughout the plumage tracts and structures of these first winter birds. You’ll notice some birds with no replaced wing coverts, showing that it really can be 0-100% of coverts included in the post juvenile moult.
The next bird showing a ‘softer focus’ scapular pattern – closer to that of Caspian.
Folowed by a really grainy contrasty 2nd generation scapular and covert pattern.
The below birds 2nd generation coverts are taking on the adult grey.
The bird behind the first winter here looks quite Caspian like in this shot, the following image shows 2nd winter Yellow Leg, bit of a Caspy looking one in my opinion.
The following pale bird had me thinking I’d found a Herring gull there for a moment, Ive never seen a YLG with such a soft/delicate scapular pattern. The covert moult and tail pattern rule out Herring for me but certainly not how I like my Yellow legs! I think fading and wear are at play here. Note the funny pattern on the replaced central tail feather.
This spread wing and tail shot nicely segways into some tail pattern variation.
Another little anomaly that I noticed were 2(!) 2nd winter Yelow Legs with a faint p10 mirror. The holy texts say this is extremely rare and really only a Caspian / sometimes argentatus feature. Just goes to show- its never one feature alone with gulls!.
Not a yellow-Legged gull i know but a second winter Med Gull with a particularly lovely primary pattern.
I couldn’t not post this. A great looking adult, pretty much all of the adults I was seeing had this slightly larger white tips to the primaries than i’ve traditionally expected. Looks amazing though! Some with complete white tip to p10.
Thats probably going to be more of less it from me regarding Yellow-Legged Gulls untill the 2nd winter birds begin getting saturated bills and eye rings around March…Love that!
There was abit of waiting around during the day so just outside where i was working I could see multiple Black Redstarts feeding on the berries of a huge Virginia Creeper growing in a little courtyard. There were up to 11 birds at one point, all different ages/sexes, almost like a tit flock they would come and go during the day.
The following bird seems to be a first winter Male, note the moult contrast across the greater coverts, the new black shiny inner feathers contrasting with the browner juvenile outer feathers,also all median coverts are new. The face pattern is coming in and more of the wing is second generation. It seems more advanced than they often are at this age in the uk. Probably (similar to gulls) as they’re born earlier than birds from northern/central Europe. therefore have longer to develop.
One last thing. Venice is full of Black-necked grebes, must have seen 100’s from boat trips to and from the airport