(plus some interesting tail patterns)
January turned out to be an interesting month this year with several observations of second-calendar year gulls still in (predominantly) juvenile plumage.
This is exciting because this is a moult pattern (or lack thereof…) that is indicative of gull species that originate from northern Europe (Scandinavia, Russia, etc). Think Scandinavian Herring Gull and Baltic Gull.
Needless to say, the most exciting observation (on January 13) was indeed of a Baltic Gull (Larus fuscus fuscus) of which I wrote earlier this month.
The previous day I had already seen my first individual of the month in the form of a putative Scandinavian Herring Gull (Larus argentatus argentatus).
Note the fresh looking feathers (no worn or abraded fringes) and only 3 replaced scapulars. These features combined almost certainly make this a Scandinavian Herring Gull. From the small size of the body, head and bill I would make this a female too.
And today I saw another putative Scandinavian Herring Gull, but this time a much more robust looking individual:
Again, this individual is in almost full juvenile plumage with a few missing scapulars and only one second-generation scapular on the left side.
Interestingly, this individual also showed a barred tail pattern, not something that can be commonly seen in first-cycle Herring Gulls:
I’ve only seen a similar tail pattern on a first-cycle Herring Gull twice before:
The origin of both of them is unknown. Is it indicative for Scandinavian Herring Gulls?
In comparison, this is the tail pattern that I’m used to see for this age group (note the much wider subterminal bar):