Now the California gull, Larus californicus

This is the California gull, Larus californicus (Lawrence, 1854). It is subs. californicus.

California gull Larus californicus Ad 1

California gull Larus californicus 3cy 7

California gull Larus californicus 3cy 1

Here we see the white mirrors in P9 and P10, which are characteristic, and the white trailing edge to inner wing. This (both photos of same individual) is an adult (at least 4cy) with the winter plumage (hindneck has dense brown streaks). These first three photos were taken at Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz, along the coast line.

California gull Larus californicus 062

California gull Larus californicus 3cy  California gull Larus californicus 3cy

A detail of the wonderful head of this gull (same individual in these two photos, an ad). Note the dark iris, and the color pattern in the bill ring (black with red-orange tinted patch in the lower mandible). The bill is characteristically 4-colored: yellowish at the base, black ring, red-orange dot and ivory tip- this separates it from Ring-billed and Herring. The leg color is also characteristic (green-bluish) but apparently is very variable. I saw other ad birds with very yellow legs. These two photos were taken in San Lorenzo Park, Santa Cruz, CA.

California gull Larus californicus 3cy

This is a 3cy bird, finishing molt to 3rd winter. The bill ring is wholly black; there are no white patches on P feathers, nor white mirrors. The bill is longer than in Ring-billed and the head is more massive. The photo was taken at Moss Landing, Elkhorn Slough, CA.

California gull Larus californicus 2cy 6

This is a 1cy bird (juvenile molting into 1st winter plumage), with characteristic black-tipped bill with pale pink in the base. It has not yet started te molt of the scapulars, yet some grayish ones seem to be apparent- the median coverts look worn and faded, creating pale midwing-panel; so the bird is a bit delayed in its molt.

EXIF data:

e_Model NIKON D7000
e_LensModel AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED
e_CameraSerialNumber 6074229
e_FlashExposureComp 0
e_ISOSpeedRating 100
e_ColorModel RGB
e_Depth 16
e_FocalLength 300
e_PixelHeight 3264
e_ApertureValue 5.6
e_WhiteBalance 1
e_ShutterSpeed 0.002
e_Flash 16
e_CaptureDayOfMonth 13
e_CaptureMonthOfYear 10
e_CaptureYear 2013

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.