On Sunday 18 January, a
‘black-headed’ gull was seen briefly in flight at Breamlea, some 20 km S of
Geelong on the Otway coast in Victoria, (per Margaret Cameron).
About lunchtime next day
(yesterday), Jenny Zimmerman watched a similar bird squabbling with Silver Gulls
on a beach at Anglesea, 22 km to the SW. It was indifferent to the holidaying
throng. The bird was outstanding with a wholly black hood and prominent white
eyelids. So it was either a Laughing or a Franklin’s Gull. She alerted Geoff
Price at BA HQ and the twitchers were on their way. Most searched today and as
far as I know, all including me (yet again), dipped! So did the few who went
immediately yesterday, except for Rob Ganly who at 17.10, stumbled across some
boys tossing it chips! He obtained some excellent digital pictures at very close
range. Unfortunately, they are not as revealing as we would like because the
bird was mostly facing him and didn’t fly!
Jenny described the primaries as
almost entirely black and Rob agreed. This suggested that it was a Laughing
Gull. But Rob reckoned that the wing projection beyond the tail was short. This
suggested that it was a Franklin’s Gull. At this stage I’ve seen just one of the
photos and I reckon it’s a Franklin’s for the following reasons.
1) Visible even in the closed wing, is a white bar across the
base of the primaries.
2) The white
eyelids are very broad.
3) Although it
is a slightly foreshortened view, bill structure seems to fit that species
So why are there no white mirrors? The photo shows that
the primaries are extremely worn but there is a trace of the original white tip.
This of course, also makes the wings appear shorter than they should, falsely
emphasizing the less attenuated appearance of Franklin’s.
If anyone finds it, please advise me
immediately. It would be a milestone, bringing up 450 species for me in
Incidentally, Bob Swindley found
two Oriental Pratincoles at the WTP, Werribee, on Sunday.