Monday, 16 July 2012

Tricky gulls

I see very few Lesser Black-backed Gulls (sildemåke) when I am in Northern Norway and there is a lot of uncertainty as to the sub-specific identity of many of the birds that occur here. One place where I do see birds is around Valnes to the south of Bodø. A few pairs appear to breed here amongst a loose colony of Herring (gråmåke) and Great Black-backed Gulls (svartbak). I have previously reported these as being fuscus (also called Baltic Gull) although I believe it is unclear as to whether fuscus still breed in Norway. I spent some time looking at the birds today and managed some half decent photos which i will upload later. For me these birds are fuscus. Plumage wise they are darker on the back than Great Black-backs, there is no discernible contrast between the black wing tips and rest of the wing, there is just one small white mirror on P10 and they have no discernible white tips to the outer primaries. Structure wise they are clearly smaller than Herring Gulls and appear long winged. The biggest clue for me though that they are fuscus is their behaviour. When feeding they fly like a small gull and swoop down and pick food off the water surface just like I have seen fuscus doing around Stockholm and in the Baltic. Both in size and behaviour they are also very unlike the intermedius that breed around Oslo. Also here Redstart (rødstjert) and Common Tern (makrellterne) but still no White-tailed Eagles (havørn) and the locals also say they have noticed far fewer eagles this year.

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