Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Slender-billed Gulls

Time to break my blogger's block and get back to posting. The last couple of months have been either very busy workwise with no time for birding or blogging, or, more recently, away from home enjoying a family holiday in SE France. By no means a birding holiday, there was nevertheless a nice selection of birds, butterflies, mammals and flowers to provide plenty of distractions in many of the locations we visited.

These Slender-billed Gulls were on a shallow Etang near Palavas and were the only ones we stumbled upon on the trip. One of my all-time favourite species, I always get a real kick out of seeing them, maybe related to the fact that when I first saw them as a student on a birding trip to Spain I was suffering from a severe case of food poisoning thanks to some ill-chosen tapas the night before but all that was forgotten while a flock of these birds was in view.

Adult Slender-billed Gulls are particularly attractive with a pink wash to the underparts and dark eye and bill, and in flight they are particularly graceful. 
Unfortunately when they touch down on land they are transformed slightly. Their elongated neck, which adds to their grace in flight, suddenly looks out of proportion, and if the three birds below are anything to go by, it looks a trifle uncomfortable as well!

Just for comparison, here is a nice pink summer adult standing behind a second calendar year bird. Note the bleached plumage of the latter.