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2012 Big Year
Additional photos of the Mystery Gull (Boca Chica Beach, 8 JAN 2012)
While searching for a reported California Gull (age unknown), we found a 1st-year gull that superficially looked good for California: sharply bicolored bill (Herring should be mostly black at this age), dark eye, and the lack of a strong "primary flash" lean towards California, but the overall bulkier shape, lack of a strong secondary bar, and shorter wing projection all made me have second thoughts. The consensus so far is that it is indeed a 1st-year Herring, which doesn't surprise me (bring the year total down to 149...).
In front of a Ring-billed Gull
With 2nd-year Herring Gull on right; in this shot he looks slightly smaller...
...but in this shot he looks about the same size, which makes him suspect...
Feedback from ID Frontiers:
From Phil Pickering:
Bill shape with the pronounced gonydeal angle and gradual downslope to the
culmen would be pretty odd for a Cal, which typically have fairly straight
bills. Also you normally wouldn't expect to see much retained dark
smudging along the cutting edge in January.
I'm not sure how many 1st-cycle Cals normally have largely retained juv scaps in January either, although it's not something I've paid close attention to.
A small minority of otherwise pure-appearing smithsonianus do develop bi-colored bills in 1st-cycle.
From James Holdsworth:
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