Heermann’s Gulls San Diego – 201404

During a short trip to San Diego, California, USA, last week I saw my first Heermann’s Gull Larus Heermanni in alternate (breeding) plumage: easily one of the most beautiful of all gull species.

Two individuals were present in total and although they were in alternate plumage, I suspect that they are actually 3rd-cycle / 4th-calendar year gulls, based on the distinct brown hue in the wing feathers, the lack of white primary tips and the lack of a white trailing edge in the tail (although the white in the wing and tail may have disappeared due to wear).

Knowing that adults will have moved to the breeding grounds in northern Mexico by April, I was not expecting to come across anything other than 2nd-calendar year individuals (as was the case during my visit last year). If the individuals that I saw are young adults then this would go a long way in explaining their presence in San Diego.

Not that I was complaining though: I was able to enjoy their presence over consecutive days (although I only saw the 2 of them together on one day). They were very approachable and very obliging in giving some great flight shots.

All photos were taken between 15 and 17 April 2014 along the Seaport Village in San Diego, California, USA.

Let me actually start of by showing some videos because their beauty doesn’t come across as well in static photos:











With 2nd-calendar year Western Gull.




At least one of the individuals showed some lice spots in the head feathers.

3 thoughts on “Heermann’s Gulls San Diego – 201404

  1. With these Heerman’s Gulls, it’s as if the typical ‘white bird/dark head’ hooded gull plumage somehow got inverted, through some accident of evolution or other. They’re certainly one of the most distinctive gulls in the world. Lovely photos.

    Did you ever see Lava Gulls or Great Black-headed Gulls in real life?

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