Not to be confused with Mediterranean bastards but harder to separate from black-headed gulls, this individual at the Marina was actually pretty easy, even in flight. The full adult bird has a pale underwing in comparison with the black-head’s muckier colour scheme. Having picked that out, it was only a matter of time before my bird wheeled to display the same all-pale configuration from above. This one also gave good enough views to distinguish the slightly darker inner wing – a bit like, but not as pronounced as, a kittiwake.
Pretty dry, huh? I went “Woo-hoo!” at the time. My second Med of the year, after Heysham; a cracker for car-free species number 71; and a first for Somerset, whose list is slowly taking flight and may soon be up there with Worcestershire and Norfolk. Sponditious.
Using black-headed gull as a benchmark for the Med is more an accident of association than similarity. Common gull is more closely related, being at the start of the Larus genus, which follows the Med’s Ichthyaetus. Try saying that with a mouthful of toffee. Black-headed gull is miles further up the order, in Chroicocephalus – four genuses (geni?) away.
It always tickles me that the black-head is C. ridibundus, which means laughing and laughing gull is Leucophaeus atricilla, which means black-… well, tailed, actually. Who thought that was a distinguishing feature of the species? It’s OK, I know: some chap called Catesby, apparently. Remember that for the next pub quiz.
So, a Mediterranean species in less than Mediterranean weather. I believe snow is in the forecast. I think we’ve done enough snow this year. Let’s do warm.