Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)

OTHER NAMES: Steppe Gull, Pontic Gull
Latin Etymology: Larus ("Gull") cachinnans ("laughing")

Third Winter Caspian Gull (subspecies  L. c. cachinnans) at Thames Barrier Park - February 2017

Featured Subspecies: Larus cachinnans cachinnans
Weight: 680-1500g
Length: 56-68cm
Wingspan: 137-155cm
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern

 In some ways, I have found the Caspian Gull to be one of the most vexing species to catch up with despite having visited a number of sites which are good for them in a number of counties.  Looking at this bird the reasons should perhaps be obvious, this is a species which very closely resembles the far more common Herring Gull.  Indeed, it was only comparatively recently that it was recognised as it's own species at all and even some fairly up to date bird books will not include them.  While they are a regular Wintering species in the UK in small numbers it tends to be in places which host large numbers of gulls anyway - often near land fill sites where picking out the subtle features of this species among legions of assorted other gulls species is a daunting prospect.  I advise reading up online to get a greater understanding of the features which include a long beak, small dark eyes, long legs and other assorted things is key to this, although I must admit that the final thing that let me get this species was finding out about a reliable site that offered close views and running into a generous birder who pointed out this individual to me.

Related Species:
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Laridae
Genus: Larus
SUBSPECIES: L. c. cachinnans, L. c. barabensis*, L. c. mongolicus*

 - Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM -  An uncommon Winter visitor
 - Single bird seen at Thames Barrier Park (February 2017)

Further Notes: RSPB, Wikipedia, BirdGuides, BirdForum Opus, Arkive, IUCN Red ListXeno-Canto

*Sometimes considered their own species

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