Presumed hybrid Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull – 20130810

While checking my local gull patches this morning, I came across this presumed hybrid Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull.

Presumed Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull (Larus fuscus x Larus argentatus). Leiden, The Netherlands, 10 August 2013.

Presumed Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull (Larus fuscus x Larus argentatus). Leiden, The Netherlands, 10 August 2013.

It immediately attracted my attention because of its dark-grey plumage which is much darker than the local European Herring Gulls but lighter than the Lesser Black-backed Gulls (the graellsii Dutch intergrade version that we have over here).

Presumed Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull (top left) with Lesser Black-backed Gull (center) and European Herring Gull (bottom right). Leiden, The Netherlands, 10 August 2013.

Presumed Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull (top left) with Lesser Black-backed Gull (center) and European Herring Gull (bottom right). Leiden, The Netherlands, 10 August 2013.

Presumed Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull (right) with European Herring Gull (left). Leiden, The Netherlands, 10 August 2013.

Presumed Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull (right) with European Herring Gull (left). Leiden, The Netherlands, 10 August 2013.

When I first saw it (in flight) my initial reaction was that it could be a British Lesser Black-backed Gull (a true graellsii which is much lighter than our local Dutch intergrade), or possibly an adult Yellow-Legged Gull Larus michahellis. I dismissed the latter because it looked too dark.

I then considered the possibility of it being a hybrid Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull, especially because I saw my first one at the same location early last year.

This looked to be the best fit because of the following characteristics:

  • Much darker grey compared to local Herring Gulls and lighter than local Lesser Black-backed Gulls
  • Yellow-tinged legs with pink feet
  • Dark yellow/orange orbital ring
  • Distinct black spot on outer web of primary P5 only, no black on P3 or P4

Going by the brown hue on the wing coverts and old primaries it is possibly in its 5th calendar year.

Here are some more photos that I took:

Presumed Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull (Larus fuscus x Larus argentatus). Leiden, The Netherlands, 10 August 2013.

Presumed Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull (Larus fuscus x Larus argentatus). Leiden, The Netherlands, 10 August 2013.

Presumed Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull (Larus fuscus x Larus argentatus). Leiden, The Netherlands, 10 August 2013.

Presumed Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull (Larus fuscus x Larus argentatus). Leiden, The Netherlands, 10 August 2013.

Presumed Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull (Larus fuscus x Larus argentatus). Leiden, The Netherlands, 10 August 2013.

Presumed Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull (Larus fuscus x Larus argentatus). Leiden, The Netherlands, 10 August 2013.

Presumed Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull (Larus fuscus x Larus argentatus). Leiden, The Netherlands, 10 August 2013.

Presumed Lesser Black-backed Gull x European Herring Gull (Larus fuscus x Larus argentatus). Leiden, The Netherlands, 10 August 2013.

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