Thursday, 29 December 2011

Leucistic Common Gull at Alnwickhill

Well I thought that I was going to draw a blank at Alnwickhill today. The highlights had been a pair of Goldeneye, the 5 Canada Geese just over the wall (pic below) and the unprecedented sighting of another birder at the site (nice to meet you Billy). Even the latter didn't seem to be enough to tempt any white-winged gulls into view. Or was it? As I got ready to leave, I had one last scan and this is what I saw in among a small group of Common Gulls.

Through binoculars the paler mantle and apparently abraded coverts reminded me of a Ring-billed Gull similar to this one (right) photographed in California in April 2010.

Through the scope it was clear that the wing coverts of today's bird were not abraded but simply lacking in pigment. This leucism was presumably responsible for the paler mantle shade. So, a partially leucistic Common Gull - not unheard of, but certainly not common. After a short time bathing this rather unusual looking leucistic gull took off and joined the stream of gulls heading for the coast during the late afternoon.

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