SomersetWanderer's picture

Gulls with black heads aren't black headed gulls!

Observed: 24th December 2009 By: SomersetWandererSomersetWanderer’s reputation in BirdsSomersetWanderer’s reputation in BirdsSomersetWanderer’s reputation in BirdsSomersetWanderer’s reputation in Birds
Stockers Lake 23Dec09-09991-2
Description:

Two gulls seen in Watford today by B & Q had distinctly black heads which made me think of Mediterranean Gulls however my brief research indicates they lose their black heads during the winter as do Black-headed gulls which lose their dark-brown head colouring. Another possibility is Little Gull however these appeared larger. As these two particular birds were perched on a very high lampost I was not able to determine any other identifying features. I would appreciate comment regarding dark headed gulls in winter.

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Comments

RoyW's picture

Advanced birds can have dark hoods already

All of the gulls in the northern hemisphere that have dark hoods in breeding plumage lose the hood after breeding when they have a complete moult.
The pre-breeding moult, which is a partial moult, typically of head & body feathers only, usually takes place between January & March, with the dark hood aquired gradually during this period. All individuals do not moult at the same time though, and it is not exceptional to see a few individuals (of Black-headed Gull anyway) that already have almost complete hoods in late December or early January.
Mediterranean Gulls can have full hoods by February (possibly earlier?).

Without other features I doubt that you will be able to confirm an ID - certainly not something other than Black-headed Gull which is the most likely possibility in the area.

Jonathan's picture

A point about the picture. Do

A point about the picture. Do you have permission from the RSPB to post this? If not, then I am afraid that it contravenes our rules about photos and ought to be replaced with a photo of your own, or one you have permission to use. Alternatively, you could find suitable photos by other iSpot users to make your point and link to those by pasting the URL into an observation.

Thanks,

Jonathan
University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

SomersetWanderer's picture

A point about the picture

Apologies for that - replaced with picture showing developing colouration on head.

Jonathan's picture

Thanks, and a nicer picture

Thanks, and a nicer picture too!

Jonathan
University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)