Lecture on Part 1 - updated 25.1.11 Israel large Gulls fast identification guide

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Basic gull topography
Basic gull topography
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Head shapes
Head shapes
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Comparison of breeding range to moult timing in large gulls
Comparison of breeding range to moult timing in large gulls
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Moult directions
Moult directions
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Heuglin’s Gull - Larus heuglini, adult, end of primary moult
Ashdod 23/1/10
Heuglin’s Gull - Larus heuglini, adult, end of primary moult Ashdod 23/1/10
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Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus
Main ID features at rest

	Bill – rather short, slimmer than michahellis and shorter than fuscus, typical adults show 4 colored bill (see slide 9) 

Gonys – medium size, but might look confusingly large at short range, and in juvenile males.
	
	Legs – from pink in 1st winter to yellow in adult, but never orange as in michahellis

	Eye – dark in most individuals, up to 10% will show pale eye to some extend, but all pale eyed individuals will have dark spots on the iris
		
	Size – smaller and shorter-reared than michahellis, larger than fuscus, but size can vary from very small females to very large males
	
	Head and mantle Color Color –  head typically very rounded, adults mantle is rather dark grey, perhaps closer to heuglini than to michahelis.
	1st autumn birds are seen in Israel from June. 
From 1st  winter onwards they become much paler up to very creamy whitish brown when bleached

	Status in Israel - this is the commonest gull in most of Israel year-round, with large winter concentrations in fishponds, often inland.
From end May – September juveniles are seen in Israel (especially Ma’agan Michael) and are certainly very confusing to identify from same age michahellis.
Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus Main ID features at rest Bill – rather short, slimmer than michahellis and shorter than fuscus, typical adults show 4 colored bill (see slide 9) Gonys – medium size, but might look confusingly large at short range, and in juvenile males. Legs – from pink in 1st winter to yellow in adult, but never orange as in michahellis Eye – dark in most individuals, up to 10% will show pale eye to some extend, but all pale eyed individuals will have dark spots on the iris Size – smaller and shorter-reared than michahellis, larger than fuscus, but size can vary from very small females to very large males Head and mantle Color Color – head typically very rounded, adults mantle is rather dark grey, perhaps closer to heuglini than to michahelis. 1st autumn birds are seen in Israel from June. From 1st winter onwards they become much paler up to very creamy whitish brown when bleached Status in Israel - this is the commonest gull in most of Israel year-round, with large winter concentrations in fishponds, often inland. From end May – September juveniles are seen in Israel (especially Ma’agan Michael) and are certainly very confusing to identify from same age michahellis.
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Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, adult spring, Ashdod 9/3/10
Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, adult spring, Ashdod 9/3/10
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Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, adult winter, Ma’agan Michael 1/10/09
Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, adult winter, Ma’agan Michael 1/10/09
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Armenian Gull - Larus armenicus, Adult, Ma’agan Michael  13/9/10
Armenian Gull - Larus armenicus, Adult, Ma’agan Michael 13/9/10
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Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, adult winter, Ashdod 6/1/10
Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, adult winter, Ashdod 6/1/10
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Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, 1st summer birds, Ma’agan Michael 14/4/09
Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, 1st summer birds, Ma’agan Michael 14/4/09
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Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, 1st winter
Ashdod 12/9/08
Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, 1st winter Ashdod 12/9/08
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Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, 1st summer, Ma’agan Michael 24/4/09
Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, 1st summer, Ma’agan Michael 24/4/09
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Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, 1st summer, Ma’agan Michael 14/4/09
Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, 1st summer, Ma’agan Michael 14/4/09
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Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, advanced 2nd winter, 
Ashdod 02/10/09
Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus, advanced 2nd winter, Ashdod 02/10/09
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Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Main ID features at rest

	Bill – massive, yellow-orange in summer and early autumn, longer than armenicus but not as cachinnans, quite similar to heuglini

Gonys – prominent  

	Legs - thick yellow orange in summer, 
yellow – pale yellow in early autumn

	Eye – large, pale to white iris, orbital ring red in summer (when most common in Israel)

	Size – large gull, same size group of heuglini and male cachinnans

	Mantle Color – moderately pale mantle 
	colors, darker than cachinnans paler than 
	armenicus

	Status in Israel – summer and autumn visitor from mid April – 3rd week of July. 
The only breeding gull in Israel, from Tel Aviv 
to Rosh Hanikra,  about 20 pairs estimated to breed in Israel (May - July).
	It is most dominant amongst sea shore gulls (only armenicus can also be seen during this period).
	Resident population in the Tel Aviv area and Maagan Michael.
	On the 24.10.10 and onwards a group of 26- 30 birds of all ages were found by Keren Or in the Ramat Gan Safari,
	2 of the Tel Aviv Univ. ringed juveniles were seen amongst them which confirms that these are the Zoological Garden population, which also winter in Israel (steady population)
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis Main ID features at rest Bill – massive, yellow-orange in summer and early autumn, longer than armenicus but not as cachinnans, quite similar to heuglini Gonys – prominent Legs - thick yellow orange in summer, yellow – pale yellow in early autumn Eye – large, pale to white iris, orbital ring red in summer (when most common in Israel) Size – large gull, same size group of heuglini and male cachinnans Mantle Color – moderately pale mantle colors, darker than cachinnans paler than armenicus Status in Israel – summer and autumn visitor from mid April – 3rd week of July. The only breeding gull in Israel, from Tel Aviv to Rosh Hanikra, about 20 pairs estimated to breed in Israel (May - July). It is most dominant amongst sea shore gulls (only armenicus can also be seen during this period). Resident population in the Tel Aviv area and Maagan Michael. On the 24.10.10 and onwards a group of 26- 30 birds of all ages were found by Keren Or in the Ramat Gan Safari, 2 of the Tel Aviv Univ. ringed juveniles were seen amongst them which confirms that these are the Zoological Garden population, which also winter in Israel (steady population)
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Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis, adult summer (early autumn) plumage, Nachlieli Island Rosh Hanikra 17/9/09
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis, adult summer (early autumn) plumage, Nachlieli Island Rosh Hanikra 17/9/09
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Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis, 4th summer, Tel Aviv University Zoological Garden (natural population) 22/5/10
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis, 4th summer, Tel Aviv University Zoological Garden (natural population) 22/5/10
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Yellow-legged Gull – Larus michaellis, Tel Aviv University Zoological Garden (natural population) 5/6/10
Yellow-legged Gull – Larus michaellis, Tel Aviv University Zoological Garden (natural population) 5/6/10
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Yellow-legged Gull – Larus michahellis, winter plumage
 (fairly rare winterer in Israel) Ashdod 30/10/09
Yellow-legged Gull – Larus michahellis, winter plumage (fairly rare winterer in Israel) Ashdod 30/10/09
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Yellow-legged Gull – Larus michahellis, winter plumage
 (fairly rare winterer in Israel) Jaffa Port 4/2/10, Yoav Perlman ©
Yellow-legged Gull – Larus michahellis, winter plumage (fairly rare winterer in Israel) Jaffa Port 4/2/10, Yoav Perlman ©
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Larus michahellis 2nd CY Ashdod 16/11/09
Larus michahellis 2nd CY Ashdod 16/11/09
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Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis, 2nd summer (3CY), extensive moult
Safari, Ramat Gan (natural population) 4/6/10
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis, 2nd summer (3CY), extensive moult Safari, Ramat Gan (natural population) 4/6/10
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Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis, fledgling, Tel Aviv University Zoological Garden (natural population) 18/6/10
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis, fledgling, Tel Aviv University Zoological Garden (natural population) 18/6/10
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Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis, Fledgling, Tel Aviv 
University Zoological Garden (natural population) 18/6/10
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis, Fledgling, Tel Aviv University Zoological Garden (natural population) 18/6/10
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Caspian Gull - Larus cachinnans
Main ID features at rest
	Bill – long and very straight.  
Yellow in winter changes to yellow-orange
in spring. Forehead rather flat. 
The small head and long bill give an impression of a very long bill 
	
Gonys – extremely small and hardly noticeable from distance.  

	Legs – slender, in winter (when mostly seen) pale yellow, longer and thicker legs than fuscus  
	
	Eye –  Pale to darkish iris (often darkish in spring)

	Size and jizz – quite big, slightly smaller than heuglini  but males can be larger than female heuglini.
	General jizz of a long-reared and slender gull, with long wings and long, slender bill

	Mantle Color – The palest of all Israeli gulls, unmistakable with its pale silver mantle. Shows rather little variation in mantle color

	Status in Israel – a winter gull, very dominant in northern Israel, especially Acre area where the largest concentrations occur.
Few hundreds seen also in Ashdod area 
seen from the 1st  week of December – late March
Caspian Gull - Larus cachinnans Main ID features at rest Bill – long and very straight. Yellow in winter changes to yellow-orange in spring. Forehead rather flat. The small head and long bill give an impression of a very long bill Gonys – extremely small and hardly noticeable from distance. Legs – slender, in winter (when mostly seen) pale yellow, longer and thicker legs than fuscus Eye – Pale to darkish iris (often darkish in spring) Size and jizz – quite big, slightly smaller than heuglini but males can be larger than female heuglini. General jizz of a long-reared and slender gull, with long wings and long, slender bill Mantle Color – The palest of all Israeli gulls, unmistakable with its pale silver mantle. Shows rather little variation in mantle color Status in Israel – a winter gull, very dominant in northern Israel, especially Acre area where the largest concentrations occur. Few hundreds seen also in Ashdod area seen from the 1st week of December – late March
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Caspian Gull - Larus cachinnans, Ashdod 30/1/10
Caspian Gull - Larus cachinnans, Ashdod 30/1/10
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Caspian Gull - Larus cachinnans, very large male
Ashdod 19/3/08
Caspian Gull - Larus cachinnans, very large male Ashdod 19/3/08
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Comparison between cachinnans (upper photo) and michahellis (lower photo) 
taken at the same date and light conditions





note the difference in:
Head shape
Bill color
Bill length
Leg color
Leg thickness
Upperparts color
Eye color
 
Ashdod 11/12/09
Comparison between cachinnans (upper photo) and michahellis (lower photo) taken at the same date and light conditions note the difference in: Head shape Bill color Bill length Leg color Leg thickness Upperparts color Eye color Ashdod 11/12/09
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Caspian Gull - Larus cachinnans, Ashdod 6/1/10
Caspian Gull - Larus cachinnans, Ashdod 6/1/10
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Caspian Gull - Larus cachinnans, Ashdod 7/3/10
Caspian Gull - Larus cachinnans, Ashdod 7/3/10
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Caspian Gull - Larus cachinnans, Ashdod 23/1/10
Caspian Gull - Larus cachinnans, Ashdod 23/1/10
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Steppe Gull - Larus barabensis
Main ID features at rest

	
Bill – as this taxon belongs to the cachinnans   
group, as expected the bill is long and very straight. Most adult birds have 3 colored bill tip red gonys, black between gonys and tip, and white nail – bill tip

Gonys – very small as in cachinnans
	
	Legs – moderately thin and short, similar to fuscus

	Eye – usually dark (but not black) iris, sometimes pale. Eye very small in comparison to other gulls, and located in the front of the head (very good ID feature).
Thin red orbital ring.
		
	Size and jizz–  medium sized gull, intermediate between armenicus and small cachinnans.
	Often stands in a peculiar 45º posture tilted forward (not mentioned in literature)
	
	Head and mantle Color –  moderately dark, bluish touch, intermediate between armenicus and heuglini. Sometimes nape and back of head with faint streaks

	Status in Israel – more common in autumn (mainly November) though can be seen frequently in winter and spring too, both in Eilat and along the Mediterranean coast (September – March)
Steppe Gull - Larus barabensis Main ID features at rest Bill – as this taxon belongs to the cachinnans group, as expected the bill is long and very straight. Most adult birds have 3 colored bill tip red gonys, black between gonys and tip, and white nail – bill tip Gonys – very small as in cachinnans Legs – moderately thin and short, similar to fuscus Eye – usually dark (but not black) iris, sometimes pale. Eye very small in comparison to other gulls, and located in the front of the head (very good ID feature). Thin red orbital ring. Size and jizz– medium sized gull, intermediate between armenicus and small cachinnans. Often stands in a peculiar 45º posture tilted forward (not mentioned in literature) Head and mantle Color – moderately dark, bluish touch, intermediate between armenicus and heuglini. Sometimes nape and back of head with faint streaks Status in Israel – more common in autumn (mainly November) though can be seen frequently in winter and spring too, both in Eilat and along the Mediterranean coast (September – March)
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Steppe Gull - Larus barabensis, bird rehabilitated in NPA’s Afek Wildlife Hospital, 
ringed and released by Yoav Perlman at Ashdod seashore 16/2/08
Steppe Gull - Larus barabensis, bird rehabilitated in NPA’s Afek Wildlife Hospital, ringed and released by Yoav Perlman at Ashdod seashore 16/2/08
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Steppe Gull – Larus barabensis, Acre sea shore 7/2/09
Steppe Gull – Larus barabensis, Acre sea shore 7/2/09
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Steppe Gull – Larus barabensis, Ashdod 16/3/10
Steppe Gull – Larus barabensis, Ashdod 16/3/10
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Steppe Gull  - Larus barabensis, Eilat north beach 1/3/08
Steppe Gull - Larus barabensis, Eilat north beach 1/3/08
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Steppe Gull – Larus barabensis, Ashdod 16/3/10
Steppe Gull – Larus barabensis, Ashdod 16/3/10
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Herring Gull – Larus argentatus
Main ID features at rest
	General Notes – ssp. argentatus (North Europe) is more likely to occur in Israel (one record, see notes below).
ssp. argenteus (West Europe, mainly England) was never recorded in Israel and is less likely to occur.      

	Head and Bill – head and nape show extensive brown marking in winter plumage, 

 	Gonys – noticeable with red spot year round, 
in winter shows faint black ring on bill tip 

	Legs – pink both in argentatus and argenteus
	
	Eye – very pale white 

	Size – large gull, as big as michahellis
	
Mantle Color – pale grey, resembles michahellis
darker in argentatus than in argenteus 

	Status in Israel – ssp. argentatus recorded only once by Ehud Dovrat et al. on 3/1/1987
Ashdod former sewage ponds
Herring Gull – Larus argentatus Main ID features at rest General Notes – ssp. argentatus (North Europe) is more likely to occur in Israel (one record, see notes below). ssp. argenteus (West Europe, mainly England) was never recorded in Israel and is less likely to occur. Head and Bill – head and nape show extensive brown marking in winter plumage, Gonys – noticeable with red spot year round, in winter shows faint black ring on bill tip Legs – pink both in argentatus and argenteus Eye – very pale white Size – large gull, as big as michahellis Mantle Color – pale grey, resembles michahellis darker in argentatus than in argenteus Status in Israel – ssp. argentatus recorded only once by Ehud Dovrat et al. on 3/1/1987 Ashdod former sewage ponds
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Herring Gull - Larus argentatus argentatus, North France 3/1/2002
Image by Mars Muusse ©
Herring Gull - Larus argentatus argentatus, North France 3/1/2002 Image by Mars Muusse ©
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Larus argentatus argentatus, 1st CY 26/11/2006  Belgium
(Ringed at North Russia)  
Image by Mars Muusse © 


Larus argentatus argentatus  
wing pattern,  U.K  6/1/92
Open wings images 
by Peter Stewarte ©
Larus argentatus argentatus, 1st CY 26/11/2006 Belgium (Ringed at North Russia) Image by Mars Muusse © Larus argentatus argentatus wing pattern, U.K 6/1/92 Open wings images by Peter Stewarte ©
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Larus argentatus argentatus, 3rd  CY, the Netherlands, 31/12/2008
 Image by Mars Muusse ©
Larus argentatus argentatus, 3rd CY, the Netherlands, 31/12/2008 Image by Mars Muusse ©
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Herring Gull - Larus argentatus argenteus
Brighton England 26/11/08
Herring Gull - Larus argentatus argenteus Brighton England 26/11/08