Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides)

Latin Etymology: Larus ("gull") glaucoides ("glaucous resembling")
Adult Iceland Gull (subspecies L. g. glaucoides) in Winter plumage at Ditchford Gravel Pits, Northamptonshire - January 2012

Featured Subspecies: Larus glaucoides glaucoides
Weight: 480-1100g  /  Length: 50-64cm  /  Wingspan: 115-150cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

Along with the Glaucous Gull, the Iceland Gull is one of the two species that turn up in the UK having spent the summer in the arctic.  It only turns up in fairly small numbers, on average probably less than 100 are present at any one time.  The key identification feature to pick out either of the Arctic Gulls is the lack on any black anywhere on them - including at the tops of the wing.  Like Glaucous, a juvenile will be a biscuity sort of colour all over, a second winter almost pure white (as seen above) and an adult then gains a pale grey back.  Unlike the Glaucous which is huge with a brutish appearance, the proportions of Iceland Gull make it look gentle - along the lines of a Common Gull, but bigger.  Iceland Gulls are best searched for in large gull roosts - often near landfill sites where they commute to feed, during the Winter.

Related Species:
Family: Laridae
Genus: Larus
Subspecies: Debated: either none or L. g. glaucoides and L. g. kumlieni, and possibly L. g. thayeri

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

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