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Sunday, 4 February 2018

Argentatus Herring Gull

Two 'argentatus' Herring Gulls were at Sandy Bay today.

This is the slightly larger Scandinavian race and a scarce to rare winter visitor to the Kingdom, with generally darker grey upperparts and a slightly different wingtip pattern. Probably under-recorded in Kerry, though this would be one of the better times of year to see one. Adults are reasonably straightforward, given good light, decent views and other local Herring Gulls with which to compare. Younger birds, well that's a different matter... Those birds could send a person crazy. And there's a whole zone of intergrades between this race and our own argenteus race, just to heap misery on the unsuspecting gull watcher.

'Argentatus' Herring Gull, Sandy Bay, 4th February 2018 (David O'Connor).

On these two birds, David writes, "...these photos from Sandy Bay today are somewhat overexposed so they don't show the dark mantle very well but they do show a primary pattern that is more typical of 'argentatus' Herring Gull, perhaps from southern Scandinavia. All-white tips to p10 (apart from a small dark mark on inner web of right p10), combined with very little black on p5 (just a small dark mark on outer webs), large mirrors on p9 and long grey tongues on p7 - p8). At least two such adults were present."

'Argentatus' Herring Gull, Sandy Bay, 4th February 2018 (David O'Connor).

'Argentatus' Herring Gull, Sandy Bay, 4th February 2018 (David O'Connor).

'Argentatus' Herring Gull, Sandy Bay, 4th February 2018 (David O'Connor).