It is with great trepidation that I bring to the attention of Sydney
birders, a sighting made at 11am today from Mistral Point by myself and Ray
Gobbe. Ray picked up and we both observed for several minutes a brown
skua-ish looking gull. It was not a skua! It was some 500m away some 200m
off Magic Point in bright sunshine and observed using a Kowa 88 (up to 60X).
The weather pattern has been north-easterly onshore winds for 2-3 days.
Summary description: overall light/medium brown look, larger than nearby
Silver Gulls, smaller than Kelp or Pacific Gulls, bill very light colour
with black tip, dark brown primaries, rump a brown-tinged off white, tail
dark-brown (not black) sub-terminal band, on water appeared to have a long
neck, in flight wings appeared broad and skua-like, light coloured face and
front of neck. It was terrorizing Silver Gulls in a skua-like manner. It
flew off in the direction of the beach and was lost from sight. We spent
several hours looking for it again with David Mitford but no joy.
So what wasn't it?: Silver, Kelp, Pacific, Laughing, Franklin's, Saunder's,
Sabine's, Black-Headed or any skua (including South Polar). Possible
candidates: 1st winter Black-Tailed Gull, California, Lesser-Black-Backed?
There are images of 1st winter Black-Tailed on Oriental Bird Club including
which are consistent with the observations made. And no we won't be putting
in a BARC submission (too short a time, too far away for real detail, no
I bring this to your attention in the hope that it can be seen again,
closely observed and described, then identified. All queries deemed by the
writer to be stupid, insulting or doubting will be ignored and not answered.
The description above is accurate and no more detail could be seen.
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