Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 29 - A fondness for Gulls.

I have always have a fondness for gulls.  Storm driven flocks bunkered down on fields, under hedgerows, around my old home in Somerset.  Truly wild birds on Ireland's equally wild west coast. Birds roosting on the ice at Blaydon, working on urban nature reserves, searching for Monopod, the one legged Mediterranean Gull.  Kittiwakes on the Baltic Flour Mill in Gateshead.

As a beginning birder gulls can be a bit of nightmare - too many similar species, too many different plumage types.  Often, just too many birds in one place to be able to look at them all.

That was the past - welcome to the present.  Australia has only three species of resident gulls; the Silver Gull, the Pacific Gull and the Kelp Gull.

Only the Silver Gull - the appropriately named Larus novaehollandiae  - is common and widespread.  For much of Australia this bird is pretty much all you have in the way of gulls.  (Although there are many other compensations I have to say!)

The bird comes in at around 40 cm long with a wingspan of over 90 cm,  the blood red bill and legs of the adult in full breeding plumage make it a good looking bird.  This is the classic chip stealing "sea-gull" of all coastal holidays.





The Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus) is a huge bird.  It has a wing span reaching 1.5m and grows well over 60 cm in length.  Under all circumstances this is an impressive bird.  As you can see from the pictures the bill is disproportionally large, even for a bird of this size.  As far as I know we dont really know why the bill is just so big.  This cracking looking bird is only found along the South Coast of Australia - with some bird also travelling up the west coast.  All in all its an impressive bird.




Last and in some ways least is the Kelp Gull (Larus dominicus).  This gull has a very restricted (but growing) distribution in Australia.  It is only found here with any regularity in the SE of Australia, and Tasmania is a strong hold.  This is the only Australia gull that gives the classic "laughing" noise so beloved of sound-track editors and holidays programs.  This gull is only slightly smaller than the Pacific gull, but the size and colour of the bill are the best field features.



On my recent trip to Tasmania I managed to see all three of these species in a single day - and there are not too many places here where you can do that.

Now its your turn.  Remember to visit and comment on as many of the WBW sites as possible.  

Over to you!



48 comments:

Johnny Nutcase said...

Cool post! I have to admit I'm not great with Gull id'ing but I do like 'em! Great photos, but the third one down is my favorite!

Sylvia K said...

Love your gulls, Stewart!! We do seem to have been on the same "bird line" for the past couple of days!! Hope your week is going well!!

Frank said...

I remember spending a whole day on a gull ID workshop and with some exceptions unless they are in full breeding plumage I am still bewildered!

Interesting post Stewart and the Pacific is definitely a brute.

Carletta said...

Thanks Stewart for your informative description of the different species.
Lovely sharp image and detail in that first shot! It's my favorite but you got some wonderful pics of all of them.

Les Fous du Cap said...

Hi !
You can send us a copy of the gull of the pacific. It is magnificent, maybe shall see it we one day at your home with you ;-)
CĂ©line & Philippe

TexWisGirl said...

handsome shots, stewart! the sharp eyes of the first, the HUGE bill of the second. great job!

Wally Jones said...

Super images! Now that I know you suffer from a dearth of gulls as well as woodpeckers, I'll attempt to include more posts of both for you!

i stora drag said...

I kind of like the gulls, but sometimes they can be a bit aggressive!
I'm looking forward to see them at our wetland, because then it's Spring again!
Nice photos, Stewart!
Greetings Pia

mick said...

Great photos of all the gulls. ONly the silver gulls are common up here. We get all excited and rush out to the coast when one of those other big gulls finds it way up here.

DeniseinVA said...

I love your post of the gulls Stewart. I am very fond of seagulls. I'm happy to say I took photos of a mocking bird and have joined in today.

Findlay Wilde said...

If you can only have 3 gulls, they are 3 crackers to have. From Findlay

Rebecca said...

I like gulls too - probably because I associate them with a beach - which I associate with a vacation :)

Phil said...

That is really interesting Stewart that such a large continent has only 3 gulls. I've always wondered what the gulls are on the cricket fields? Guess they must be Silver Gulls. What an absolute whopping bill on the Pacific Gull - no messing with that if it tries to steal your chips.

Crafty Gardener said...

Well done, seeing 3 species in one day.
I love to watch the gulls when we are by the bay.

Amanda said...

Gulls were the first birds I learnt to ID properly, at uni in Tassie. Oh what fun doing gull surveys at the tip and then seeing them fly from the hazardous waste section to bathe in the fresh drinking waters of Hobart's waterworks!

HansHB said...

Great gull - photos!
Some are new for me!

Richard Pegler said...

Great post Stewart, although I've never really been a fan of gulss. However, that Pacific Gull is a magnificent creature!

EG CameraGirl said...

How fascinating that Australia has mainly only three kinds of gulls. Yep, many gull species can be difficult to identify. I have only just recently become interested in the different gulls in the Great Lakes area.

Andrea said...

I have no idea how many different kinds of Gulls there are, but I am guessing many. We have a Ring Billed and a Herring Gull around here. Every once in awhile a stranger will make an appearance and they will make the papers because they are unique. I have a huge flock of Herring Gulls on my Lake. They stay all winter and huddle up together to keep warm. I am guessing they survive by scavenging in the winter, but they are awesome fisherman in the summer. Loved your Gulls ... much more interesting colors and love the big bills too. They are fun birds to watch and very clever beggers too. Have a great week ...

Andrea @ From The Sol

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Beautiful shots. The first gull has such light colored eyes which I found interesting. What a treat to see all three species in one day!

eileeninmd said...

Beautiful shots, Stewart! There are way too many species of gulls for me to even try to id them. I do look at the color of the legs and bill. Your Silver Gull is beautiful. Great post! Thanks for hosting!

Brian King said...

The first photo is a fantastic shot! Very clear eye! I like the Pacific Gull...very impressive bird! Love the bill!

pattisjarrett said...

Thanks for sharing your gulls. You have very different looking ones from what I'm used to seeing here along the Atlantic seaboard. Love those red legs and beak. The Pacific gull does have quite a beak, and bold legs, too. The kelp gull is interesting too, I've not seen one so dark.

Shirley said...

Oh how interesting. I love the photo's and the first one is my favorite..(but love them all)..as soon as my commitment to Valentine's Day is over I hope to get back to photographing the love I have found for our feathered friends..you inspire me..

bailey-road.com said...

Wonderful shots, Stewart!

Karen said...

I like gulls. Great shots, the kelp gull is quite handsome.

Becky said...

I love gulls. Living not far from one of the Great lakes here in the states, I get to see lots of them. All of yours are new to me though. I think that very last gull has bands on it's legs??

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Just came back to say thank you for hosting the meme!

Erin Braaten said...

Great gulls, Stewart!

Marie said...

Wonderful shots of interesting gulls! I am joining in today for the first time!

Hanne Bente said...

Beautiful photo series showing the seagulls :) Hanne Bente

Tina´s PicStory said...

really great shots! thanx for hosting :)

Genie Robinson said...

Stewart...I do not have a clue what happened, but when I awakened this morning the post had disappeared from my blog....my poor little resident downy had withdrawn and gone into seclusion. I reposted it a few minutes ago, and it appears to be working fine. Please let me know if it is fixed. The one week I really managed some good shots and something went wrong with the post. Ah..such is life. Loved your pictures. They bring back so many memories of walking along the Atlantic Ocean and trying to "catch" them...hahaha. What a child won't try! We lived one block from the beach so I got to spend lots of evenings and early mornings there. Your blog is such a treat for the eyes. Thanks for hosting the meme. genie

Kerri said...

Your gulls are lovely!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Loved all of your Gull images Stewart...laughing Gull, ahh yes;') I would enjoy seeing any of them. We actually have Gulls in KY, along rivers, and they are mostly the Ring-billed kind, so a variety, even 3 would be nice~

Gary said...

Great gull series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Liz said...

I love Gulls!! Since beginning my passion for birding I have developed a love of Silver Gulls in particular as I love their often comical antics.
When I visited my parents on the MP in December 2011, I photographed a gull I hadn't seen before - a group of juvenile Pacific Gulls. I was quite confused at first as I was sure they were gulls based on their characteristics but I couldn't find them anywhere. They are so different to the adults!!
I'd love to come across a Kelp Gull!!
Great post, Stewart!! Lovely shots. You have inspired me to post some more of my Silver Gull shots in the next week or two!!

missing moments said...

There truly are so many species of seagulls that I'm overwhelmed with their names. Enjoyed these pretties today though!

NatureFootstep said...

when I started birding a few years ago and went to the coast I spotted a lot of gulls. Took a lot os shots and tried to ID them when I came home. Imopssible so I decided I will not bother until I know all the other birds. Then I can do it. :)

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Even I would be able to remember gulls' names if we only had that many and if they were that gorgeous! I admit to not even trying to hard to distinguish among the ones we have here.

Pat Tillett said...

Fantastic photos Stewart! Thanks for the information as well. I live on the coast and we have a lot of pacific gulls here. Also a lot of crows. They hate each other...

DIMI said...

Hallo Stewart!Very interesting post!Great photos of all the gulls.Well done!Have a lovely day!
Dimi..

Jen said...

It's the winter and summer plumage that trips me up. Why do they need to look different in an area with no snow? The shore looks the same all year!

Fergiemoto said...

Great photos! The seagull is our state bird, and near where I live is home to the world's largest breeding population of California Gulls.

Gillian Olson said...

Beautiful gulls, and the Pacific Gull sounds huge!
Much bigger than the gulls here.

Larry said...

Awesome Gulls you have down there Stewart! Congrats on the trifecta! That Pacific Gull is huge!

Kusum Sanu said...

Beautiful shots of gulls! Somehow I find these gulls are like coastal crows!

Helen Stakos said...

"The Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus)- This cracking looking bird is only found along the South Coast of Australia- with some bird also travelling up the west coast." we saw and photographed many of these exact birds in Melbourne - Victoria today. nice blog :)