Post your Gulls, Terns and Skimmers

KD_Reno

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Ken
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The Laridae family has 100 species worldwide and they occur along every coast, so folks here must have some pictures. So let's see 'em.

I'll star with the California Gull, the most common species around here. Generally considered to be the state bird of Utah, but the statute actually says "sea gull".

Breeding adult in April.
CaliforniaGull-150430.jpg

Non-breeding adult in December.
CaliforniaGull-221202.jpg
 
Kelp Gull - South African subspecies, Larus dominicanus vetula.
View attachment 15835

Kelp Gull - Pacific subspecies, Larus dominicanus dominicanus (I suspect the browner tones are a sign of immaturity, but I'm no expert).
View attachment 15858
Nice shots, and good to see some southern hemisphere birds. I wonder if the feathers on the second one are just worn or bleached. The bill color indicates an adult, but maybe it’s a 4th year bird getting its adult coloration for the first time.
 
Short-billed Gull (Larus brachyrhynchus). Formerly considered a subspecies of Larus canus, the Common Gull, but was called Mew Gull in North America. Since identification of this gull is relatively straightforward they had to make the name confusing.

Breeding adult in Denali National Park in Alaska.
Short-billed Gull-47130190529.jpg

Immature in Sparks, Nevada. Short-billed Gull-191212.jpg
 
Nice shots, and good to see some southern hemisphere birds. I wonder if the feathers on the second one are just worn or bleached. The bill color indicates an adult, but maybe it’s a 4th year bird getting its adult coloration for the first time.
Good call. I did wonder whether it might be a fourth-year, but I guess it could be sun bleaching since the photo was taken at the end of the austral summer—I didn't think of that. (y)
 
That's a beauty. I've never even seen a picture of one before.
Gulls in NZ ought to be simple. There are only two regular small species, this one and the Red-billed Gull (which the Australians call Silver Gull), the latter being very much more common. So you identify them easily by bill colour (and matching leg colour). Yes? However, I quickly became confused when I learnt that, in the young birds, the bill colours are swapped around! But the bird above must be an adult, so I guess the ID is safe! :giggle:

Here's a Red-billed Gull (Silver Gull).
Red-billed Gull.jpg
 
This immature Black-legged Kittiwake showed up in town yesterday, and I was out looking this morning with a bunch of other local birders. They winter out on the ocean, so inland sightings are rare. This one seemed very lethargic, but we couldn't determine if it was sick or just exhausted.
kittiwake-231222.jpgkittiwake-231222-2.jpg
 
Gulls are complicated. Just like flycatchers in North America. They hybridize a fair bit, and their plumage changes considerably with their molts from first year to second year and beyond. There are whole books written on gull ID.
And the authors of those books all lie like dogs when they tell you in the forward that gull identification is really not that hard :). But the challenge is what makes them interesting.
 
Gulls in NZ ought to be simple. There are only two regular small species, this one and the Red-billed Gull (which the Australians call Silver Gull), the latter being very much more common. So you identify them easily by bill colour (and matching leg colour). Yes? However, I quickly became confused when I learnt that, in the young birds, the bill colours are swapped around! But the bird above must be an adult, so I guess the ID is safe! :giggle:

Here's a Red-billed Gull (Silver Gull).
View attachment 16275
I looked through some photos in Cornell's Macaulay Library - https://search.macaulaylibrary.org/catalog?taxonCode=silgul2&mediaType=photo&sort=rating_rank_desc - and it looks like the immatures in both species have darker eyes and at least some pattern in the mantle, so I agree that both of your birds are adults, so that's easy. For the sub-adult birds it looks like the only way to avoid confusion is to avoid New Zealand:).
 
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