Saturday, 13 December 2014

Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisagus)

Latin Etymology: Larus ("gull") schistisagus ("slate cloak")
Adult Winter Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisagus) in Kushiro, Hokkaido, Spain - December 2014

Featured Subspecies: N/A
Weight: 1-1.7kg  /  Length: 55-68.5cm  /  Wingspan: 132-160cm
ABSENT FROM UK / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The Slaty-backed Gull is a fairly standard sort of Larus gull visually - pink legs like a Herring Gull and a dark back like a Lesser Black-backed.  What I found fairly striking about the individuals that I got a close look at was how the darkened area around the eye and the fairly stocky build gave it a slight air of aggression that I'd normally associate with something like a Glaucous gull.  When it sits on a post above you, eyeing you up there is a bit of a hint of it trying to decide whether to try and eat you.  I found Slaty-backed Gulls abundant in Hokkaido, replacing the Vega Gulls which had been the most common species in Tokyo.  There was actually within the period I've been making this blog a Slaty-backed visitor to Britain, including visiting the landfill adjacent to Rainham which is a site I've frequented before.  However, given the quality of this view of this species in Japan, I'm glad I didn't bother then.

Related Species:
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Laridae
Genus: Larus
Subspecies: None - monotypic

 - Sighting Locations -
JAPAN - Japanese - オオセグロカモメ  /  ō se-guro kamome  ('large black-backed gull')  
Common Winter Migrant to Hokkaido and Northern Japan
 - TOKYO/HOKKAIDO 2014 TRIP: Abundant on Hokkaido Coast, dozens seen at each of Akkeshi, Kushiro and Shiranuka

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

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