Sunday, 25 April 2010

Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)

OTHER NAMES: Mediterranean Black Headed Gull
Latin Etymology: Ichthyaetus ("fish eagle") melanocephlus ("black headed")
Two adult breeding plumage Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus) Laguna Navaseca, Spain - April 2016

Featured Subspecies: N/A
Weight: 220-380g  /  Length: 38cm  /  Wingspan: 98-105cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The Mediterranean Gull at first glance looks very similar to the far far more common black headed gull - but a closer view, particularly in Summer plumage will reveal the differences. Most notably the head is (perhaps slightly ironically) actually matte black rather than the dark brown of the black headed gull - the bird behind them in the photo demonstrates this well. Also note the white wing-tips; a unique feature among the dark-headed gulls found in the UK.. Identification in Winter is almost certainly harder, the strong contrasting colours are no longer present to pick them out from the crowd. This species is only now beginning to gain a foothold in the UK along the South, and further afield it might be easier to watch for reports of them.

Related Species:
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Laridae
Genus: Ichthyaetus
Subspecies: none - monotypic

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Scarce breeding species (600-630 pairs) and uncommon Winter Visitor (1800 birds)
 - A pair seen at Rutland Water in April 2010.
SPAIN - Spanish - Gaviota cabecinegra ("Black headed Gull")
Resident on coastal Eastern Spain, Feeds and Winters along the Southern coast. 
 - MADRID 2016 TRIP: A pair in breeding plumage at Laguna Navaseca.

Further Notes: BirdForum Opus, IUCN Red ListRSPBWikipedia, Xeno-canto

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