Heermann’s gull in my recent trip to California

These are some shots of my recent trip to California, last October, where I had the opportunity to do a whale watching trip offshore Monterrey Bay, from Moss Landing. I’ll be posting more photos soon…

Heermann’s (Larus heermanni (Cassin, 1852) is one of my favorite gulls, with a beautiful plain grey plumage in the adult, contrasting with the white patches and the coral-red bill, and a smooth dark brown plumage of the immature birds.  They were common birds along the coast up to Santa Cruz, quite often in large flocks. The population size is estimated in ca. 150000 pairs.

Heermann s gull Larus heermanni1

The adult birds here seem to be starting with the winter plumage, with paler grey heads.

Heermann s gull Larus heermanni 1cy 12

This is a  typical juvenile bird facing its 1st winter. The head is very dark grey, with a creamy base of the bill.

Heermann s gull Larus heermanni Ad 2

I like the broad white trailing edge of the wing. It’s a very elegant gull in flight (well, as all the gulls). I’m getting a gull-addicted, even for the commonest species, which pose very nice identification problems when you try to get to the details of the plumage patterns and molt. Even the most common species (i.e., the yellow-legged here in S Spain) pose amazing identification challenges, especially in winter.

Heermann s gull Larus heermanni 2cyw with Humpback whale

And here, with the Humpback whale…

The photos were taken with the Nikon D7000, AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED, f8, 1/1000, ISO 400.

Author: Pedro Jordano

Fazendo ciéncia e soltando pipa... I'm an evolutionary ecologist, working on how ecological interactions, e.g. mutualisms, shape complex ecological systems. Sevilla, España · ebd10.ebd.csic.es

2 thoughts on “Heermann’s gull in my recent trip to California”

  1. A beautiful gull! I agree Pedro, gulls are wonderful birds, but can be very challenging to identify when not in adult breeding plumage! Two evenings ago I watched a huge, pre-roost flock of black-headed gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) wheling over the centre of Northampton in the dark, under-lit by the lights of the town. A spectacular sight!

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    1. Yes Jeff. Gulls are most interesting indeed- I’m becoming a gull fanatic just because of these identification challenges they pose to the observer, even the commonest species. The ca. 26 species of gulls in Europe can include up to 200 different “types” of plumages. This is fantastic. And the variety of the molts is just amazing, especially for the 4 cycle species (the largest ones). I like very much the black-headed! One of those large roosting flocks is spectacular! I’ll try to keep a more active posting in WP- too many photos, ideas, and observations to share! Thanks for the comment Jeff.

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