Thursday, 20 October 2011

Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus)

Latin Etymology: Hydrocoloeus ("water" + unknown web footed bird) minutus ("little")

Two Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus) - Top Right: Adult Winter, Bottom Left: First Winter, at Gravesend, Kent - October 2011
Also shown: Adult Winter plumage Black Headed Gull (Bottom Right)

Featured Subspecies: N/A
Weight: 68-160g  /  Length: 24-28cm  /  Wingspan: 61-78cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

This species is perhaps most notable for being the smallest gull in the world, and so of course, bt default, also in the UK. It is a fairly rare species that probably requires luck to find - although birds do Winter they are mainly seen on passage. They often associate with Black Headed Gulls, and they can be picked out by their size (which is not necessarily obvious in flight), short black beak and flittering flight where they will continuously swoop down and dabble their feet in the water. Keep an eye on flocks of Black Headed Gulls during migration times for a best bet.

Related Species:
Order: Charadriiformes

Family: Laridae
Genus: Hydrocoloeus
Subspecies: none - monotypic

 - Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Rare Wintering species (400-800 birds) and rare passage migrant in Spring (200-700 birds)
 - Two birds seen along the Thames just outside Gravesend in 2011, a single bird in Summer plumage seen distantly at Rutland Water later

Further Notes: BirdForum OpusIUCN Red ListRSPBWikipedia, Xeno-canto

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