The Gull was so successful feeding that a distant Greater Black-backed Gull decided it wanted in on the action and flew in causing the Lesser Black-backed Gull to take flight. But it was short flight, as the Lesser B-b Gull flew to the Point and settled in again.
We said our good-byes to Dr. George and to the Gull. Jen and I enjoyed our visit with two kind souls!
If you have a bit of difficulty identifying Lesser Black-backed Gulls, here are a few tips and field marks that you might find helpful:
Long slender profile- this species is about the same size as or slightly smaller than a Herring Gull. It has a long slender shape which actually appears and gives the impression as too long for a large Gull species. The mantle (or back feathers) coloration of this Gull is a medium to dark medium blue/gray which is in between the grey of a Herring Gull but almost as dark as a Greater Black-backed Gull which has a dark sooty brownish/gray mantle color.
Features of the head (below)- (1) Bill- the bill is a slender medium sized bill that is slightly tapered. The base of the bill in its height is similar in size or slightly greater than the depth (or height) of the gonys (the small angular edge of the lower side of the mandible-in this image with the extensive red area). The gonydeal angle ( angular shape of the gonys) is not great or sharp-it has a medium angle to it as compared to the Greater Black-backed Gull which clearly has a heavier bill structure and a thicker gonys to the height of the bill base and sharper gonydeal angle (below-image 2). (2) Eye- in adult cycle (like the one pictured in these images) the eye is a pale lemon color with an orange/red orbital ring. (3) Orbital feathering- the feathering around the eye has a dark circlet appearance to it (similar to a residual "black-eye"). (4) Head Shape- the overall head shape of the Lesser B-b Gull is smaller in size and rounded with a gentle slope to the forehead.
One of the best ways to identify the Lesser Black-backed Gull is its long wing tip extensions. The primaries extend beyond the tail starting around primary number six (below). If you contrast this to a Greater Black-backed Gull (below- image 2) you can see that the Greater B-b Gull has a very short wing extension.
Greater Black-backed Gull
The tips of the primaries of the Lesser Black-backed Gull shows very small white dots (below) compared to the larger white dots of the Greater Black-backed Gull (above image).
The Lesser Black-backed Gull also shows a small white dot on primary number nine, and a smaller white "window" on primary number 10 on the dorsal (top) and ventral (lower) surface of the wings (below image) as compared to the larger white dot on P9 and window on P10 of the Greater Black-backed Gull (for comparison) (below-image 2).
The wings of the Lesser Black-backed Gull are longer and narrower (below)
Of course there are those yellow ochre legs and feet!
On the way back to our truck, a pair of Red-tailed Hawks circled the parking lot. Their rich colors were made even more luxurious by the clear cerulean blue sky.
A big yawn on this first winter bird......
.....well, back to sleep!
This Greater Black-backed Gull was quite a bit smaller than the others, and its mante gray color was much lighter as well.
There were only a few Herring Gulls mixed in with the Greater Black-backed Gulls.