Gulls and Terns in Sydney

To: "'Mark and Amanda Young'" <>, "'Nikolas Haass'" <>, "'Birding-Aus'" <>
Subject: Gulls and Terns in Sydney
From: "Jeff Davies" <>
Date: Fri, 2 Sep 2011 13:03:33 +1000
G'day Mark,

You won't have any trouble finding adult Silver Gulls with only two mirrors
around Sydney. It's normal to find a percentage of them and you will even
find a few in Tasmania although that population shows on average the most
white in the wing for the species, if you were in Broome the majority of
adults would show only two spots.
To make a claim for scopulinus in Australia you will have to find an adult
bird with only two mirrors the base of which are very square cut, right
angled to the feather shaft, the bird will need to be noticeably small, it
ideally should have a shorter more stubby bill and it will most likely have
brighter, deeper red bill and legs at any time of the year compared to
accompanying Silver Gulls. But these are only average differences and I
could show you photos of birds from New Zealand that stray away from this
look. What you need to find is all the features I have described above in
the one individual. As you can see you have a very difficult task ahead of
yourself with so much inherent variation in Australia and New Zealand. I
would be looking for a bird that has squared off mirrors or is noticeably
redder than all birds around it as the starting point and then look for the
other features. It would need to be an absolutely perfect example of the
above features before you could submit it to BARC.
Probably would have been an easier task prior to European settlement when
the total population of Gulls would have been smaller and more settled

Cheers Jeff.

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Mark and
Amanda Young
Sent: Thursday, 1 September 2011 7:43 PM
To: 'Nikolas Haass'; 'Birding-Aus'
Subject: Gulls and Terns in Sydney

G'day Nikolas,


It's been quite an exercise trying to look for 2 mirrors in Silver Gulls. I
must say I found it very hard to be sure of birds in flight, so I adopted
the approach of photographing everything and work it out at home! It worked
better for me that way. I found that I saw a number of birds with 2 mirrors.
Most of those still had some juvenile feathers, but the odd one looked to be
an adult bird. 

But that P8 seemed to be a hard feather to be sure about.  Sometimes the
mirror was hidden by P9 and it only showed in some photos but not others. In
one bird both P8s was missing altogether!

I did notice that the mirror shape itself seemed to be different for some
birds. Is there a reason for this?


Here are some of the images I managed to take of Silver Gulls with 2


An adult breeding bird, but I can't see P8

2 sub-adult birds. Are these 1st imm non-breeding?

Is this also a 1st imm non-breeding?

2 adults, but I never got a look at P8.

An adult in breeding, but the near feathers look worn and there is a slight
white line.


I will be in Tassie at the end of the year, so I'll be looking out for 2
mirrored adults whilst I'm down there. Hopefully I'll get to see one.






From: Nikolas Haass  
Sent: Tuesday, 28 June 2011 9:38 AM
To: ; Birding-Aus
Subject: Gulls and Terns in Sydney


Mark et al.,


If you happen to check out large Silver Gull flocks it may be a good idea to
check carefully for Red-billed Gull(s). I think the lack of records for SG
in NZ and RBG in OZ is rather due to neglect than to actual lack of these


This past Saturday during SOSSA's Wollongong pelagic we had hundreds of
Silver Gulls with us all they way out to the shelf break and back. Several
times I got glimpses of a bird/birds with reduced white and more black in
the primary tips. Tony Keene was able to take a few pictures of a gull with
only two white mirrors. I haven't had the time yet to carefully analyze the
pictures but I had a quick skim through the HANZAB Silver Gull chapter (they
treat scopulinus as a subspecies of novaehollandiae). I wasn't able to find
much on ID of adult birds. They say that juv. RBGs have a dark subterminal
band to the tail whereas SGs don't. Maybe I missed information because I
didn't have a proper read. Hadoram Shirihai's Antarctic Wildlife book treats
them as two species: SG usually three mirrors (but sometimes two!)/RBG two
mirrors, SG paler than RBG, SG longer-billed and more slender-billed, SG
slightly larger than RBG and the wing measurements were slightly different,

Not sure how to tell a two-mirrored SG with certainty from a RBG in the




Nikolas Haass

Sydney, NSW


From: "" <>
To: Birding-Aus <>
Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 9:07 AM
Subject: Gulls and Terns in Sydney

G'day everyone,

Can anyone point to some sites in and around Sydney that are great places
for seeing Terns? I've spent some time at Longy and have seen plenty of
Crested Terns there, with the odd Little, Caspian and White-fronted Terns
seen from time to time, but would also like to know if there are other
places in and around Sydney that are more reliable places to see these and
other Tern species.
I have planned a trip up to Newcastle, and also to Nowra in the next couple
of weeks to look for other Terns too, so any help in finding some Terns in
those areas, or places along the way would also be very much appreciated.

Also, I'm interesting in knowing if there are any places around Sydney where
Silver Gulls can be reliably seen en masse, or if there are any known
breeding colonies in Sydney. I'm hoping to find a place that might have
hundreds of birds if that is possible. I remember seeing a couple breed at
Homebush a few years ago, but not since. HANZAB mentions that they breed
around Mascot. Would this still be correct?

Any help is much appreciated.


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