Monday, January 4, 2010

Gambian Gull - November 17th, 2007.

unidentified gull, Banjul Harbour, The Gambia, West Africa. November 17th, 2007.
(Click on the image to view at a larger size).

An interesting gull photographed by my friend Simon Edwards in Banjul Harbor, The Gambia in November 2007. Only two photographs exist with the bird being seen only briefly. "Unfortunately these are the only photos I could obtain, the bird took me by surprise appearing very briefly in front of me and then disappearing for good behind a large ship in the harbour. I can remember at the time seeing the beginnings of a hood (smudgy black area at the rear of the head above and behind the eye) ", says Simon.

So with those limitations in mind, I'm curious to know whether this bird can be identified to species?

Simon has raised the possibility that it may be a Laughing Gull, a possibility with which I agree and thus a very good record for The Gambia, and West Africa.

Grey-headed Gull (the common small/medium gull along The Gambian coast) can be ruled out on wing and tail pattern, but can a first summer/second winter Audouin's Gull be ruled out?

Simon and I would be very interested in receiving comments
and pointers towards the identification of this bird.

Thanks very much indeed.



Yoav Perlman said...

Hi James,

Structure and upperparts colors rule out Audouin's. This bird seems very 'neat' - nice and clean brown upperparts, unlike a 1st - 2nd cycle Audouin's which would show ate least some newly moulted scapulars and mantle feathers.
Franklin's seems to be a good option.
Have you considered Sooty / White-eyed though? They tend to be browner than laughing, similar to this bird.

James P. Smith said...

Hi Yoav,

Thanks very much for your comments. Based on distribution, I hadn't really considered Sooty or White-eyed Gulls. This bird shows a fairly distinctive tail pattern (like young White-eyed) similar to some 1cy and 2cy Audouin's, but also very close to 1cy and 2cy Laughing Gull. Young Franklin's wouldn't show a tail pattern like this - the blackish sub-terminal band is narrow with the outer webs of the outer feathers being white.

I know you see quite a few Audouin's Gulls on the Med coast. If you get the chance to upload some images of 2cy birds on your blog I'd be very interested to view them?



Yoav Perlman said...

Oops, Franklin's was of course a typo. Meant Laughing.
Unfortunately Audouin's are not even annual in recent years so I have no images. But will keep an eye open for them anyway.

Yoav Perlman said...

And one more thing. What are the hypothetical chances of a gull to overshoot across the Atlantic compared to a gull overshooting across (or around) Africa?