Sunday 2 January 2011

Primary pattern of adult 'eastern' michahellis

This post shows a selection of birds to illustrate the nature and extent of variation in the primary pattern of Yellow-legged Gulls on the Black Sea coast of Romania. All pics were taken today (2 Jan 2011) at Mamaia.

Birds with black extending as far as P4 are not necessarily those with lots of black at the tip of P10
Fully white tip to P10 seems more frequent here than in the western Med.


lou bertalan said...

hi chris,

i'm very excited that you take pics at mamaia again.
the 9th bird is quite a weirdo: if it is a pure michahellis - and i guess it could well be - it has 3 oddities. an all white p10 tip (which you see isn't at all odd at the black sea), a large p9 mirror, as large as in many cachinnans, and a rectangular cut p10 tongue, often regarded as a caspian trait as well, but seen in some YLGs too. is this bird a good example of some phenotypic coadaptation or might it be due to a small geneflow between these two? that's what i ask myself since years.
a great black headed hung around at mamaia just one day before you came. local photographer razvan zinica made a record shot. see if you find a lost heuglini or the odd eastern cach? good luck!

Chris Gibbins said...

Hi Lou. Nice to hear from you again. Yes, Im back enjoying Romania. But this time in winter, which is a time of year that ive not been here before. It is amazing many Common Gulls...great.

Anyway, yes, these michahellis are interesting. Because i'd only been in august and sept, birds were missing primary 5 and the old outer feathers too worn to make out the pattern. So now that ive had a good look at them, they are fascinating. The bird you mention is especially notable. Of course its impossible to know for sure what this bird is. Interestingly, the orbital ring is not so red, which also lends support to the point you are intimating.

Ive only had 10 days and actually it is rather difficlt to get pictures of enough cachinnans in this time (those at mamaia are rather difficult to approach on the beach), so i dont feel confident about making any statements about where the line between these occasional odd/extreme michahellis and cachinnans might be drawn. So i hope to come back before the winter is over.

Cheers for now.


Florin said...

Hi Chris,

Our common friend, „Chris” from Romania, told me a lot about you and your recent birding trips in Romania. I am very sorry I couldn't join you two guys and have the chance to talk to you about Scotland, which I visited in 2009. Congratulation for your Romanian findings and for an excellent birding blog !
Florin Chirila

Chris Gibbins said...

Hi Florin. Thanks for your post/comment. It was shame i did not have a chance to visit the delta on this trip, but hopefully next time. I had a great trip, and the 'other' Cris was a fantastic help - i learnt a lot from him.

Hope to meet up next time I'm in Romania.