Sunday 19 December 2010

Another exceptionally dark 2W Herring Gull

The search for smithonianus in NE Scotland continues. This bird, a second winter, is the closest I've had. Actually the overall impression is more like a first winter bird- it really is that dark.
Note the undertail covert barring - black bars wider than white base. Also the underwing coverts are a rather uniform chocolate brown, as is the body.

Heavily barred upper tail coverts visible here, mirroring the undertail coverts

Tail wholly dark except for a few small white spots on the outer 2 tail feathers. In my opinion this tail pattern is easily within the range of that seen in second winter smithsonianus (though of course this does not mean it is one).

Lovely dark greater coverts and solidly brown tertials. BUT I still cant get myself too exited - the head and upper breast are much more streaked and blotched, respectively, than can be tolerated. Also, I'd like plainer median coverts and scapulars. Despite being very dark, with a number of good looking features, it is not quite the full smithsonianus package.

Would be great to know where such birds are from (Iceland?)


JanJ said...

Hi Chris.

Nice Herring indeed and very smithsonianus like imo. The somewhat lack of uniformly coloured lower hindneck, mantle and to some extent underparts are not the best looking on this bird, that is to be on the safe side at the present.
Some her for fun - but from the 'other side'

Very good pic as usual!


Chris Gibbins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Gibbins said...

Hi Jan. Yes, it is an interesting bird for sure. But i cant get too exited about it - it is very dark but not really a significant step apart from other birds that ive seen up here. Im sure we will get smiths up here sooner or later but i guess we need a perfect one to get the ball rolling.

Thanks for the links - I'd not seen them.