Given the wide southern Hemisphere distribution of the Kelp Gull and its
occurrence as a vagrant in Europe and the US, there is an increasing
interest in the ID and taxonomy of the bird. Although some excellent
articles have been written recently on the subject, there is still a lack of
clarity on some of the features used to identify the subspecies. In
particular, there is a growing consensus that "Cape Gull", Larus
[dominicana] vetula is a distinct species endemic to southern Africa.
This would make the nominate Kelp Gull a vagrant to southern with few, if
any, documented records. There has been some debate about a bird that is
currently present near Cape Town, and Michael Mills has submitted a fully
illustrated discussion of the bird with at http://www.birding-africa.com
(under FieldGuide Frontiers).
In particular, we are most interested in coming into contact with birders
who have experience of the species, and we would welcome any feedback on
this particular bird - which has even been suggested to be a Lesser
We've also added an illustrated trip report by Peter Ryan of a recent Cape
pelagic trip at http://www.capetownpelagics.com , complete with pictures of
Slender-billed Prion, Black-bellied Storm Petrel and an mystery skua.
With best wishes,
Callan Cohen Percy FitzPatrick Institute
of African Ornithology,
Tel: +27 21 683 1898 University of Cape Town,
Mobile: +27 83 256 0491 South Africa.
Fitz: +27 21 650 4297
Fax: +27 21 671 2990
For African birding & travel information, guiding & pelagic trips, visit:
BIRDING AFRICA www.birding-africa.com
CAPE TOWN PELAGICS www.capetownpelagics.com
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