For Broome area birders

To: "jenny spry" <>
Subject: For Broome area birders
From: "McGowan, John" <>
Date: Sun, 15 Nov 2009 15:52:44 +1030
Hi Jenny
Anything further on your possible? I'm in Broome next week and will try for it.

John Mc
Barossa Valley SA

Sent from my iPhone

On 12/11/2009, at 11:46 AM, "jenny spry" <> wrote:

Hi Broome birders,

This is to let anyone in the Broome area know that there is a POSSIBLE
Brown-headed Gull (*Larus brunnicephalus*) using the low tide sandbanks off the Gambanan campground, Cape Leveque. On Google Earth the coords for my watching point were 16deg 25min 12.68, 123deg 01 min 24.67sec and the gull was at approx. 16 deg 25min, 123deg 01min 36sec. I saw the bird on Friday 6

Since I returned from Broome I have checked with the usual experts and
looked at images in books and on the web. The bird I saw appears to be in near adult non-breeding plumage (no black/brown head) and can be told from the surrounding Silver Gulls when in flight by its completely black terminal edge to the dorsal secondary feathers and all black dorsal primaries. There are no white flecks or patches, as are seen in an adult Silver Gull. When seen standing it can be told from the adult Silver Gulls by its dark legs,
eye and bill.

A very good image of a similar bird can be seen on Rohan Clarkes website. It
is the final image in his Brown-headed Gull series and is labeled
“Brown-headed Gull.jpg, Tonle Sap”.

Sadly I was unable to get any photos of the bird because I was some 500+ metres from it and only took notes. I considered walking out toward it but as I was the only person in the campground and I had no knowledge of the possibilities of crocodiles or thick mud I decided not to. And yes, with hindsight, I know now that I should have just taken copious shots of the
sandbank and prayed that I got something usable, but I didn't (sigh).

When the bird is sitting on the sandbank it looks like a finely built Silver Gull with dark legs, bill and eye and the bill has a dark tip. When it lifts its wings though the sharply demarcated black trailing edge contrasting with the joining soft grey jumps out. The Silver Gulls also harassed it whenever
it was close to them.

I emphasise that this is a POSSIBLE Brown-headed Gull. Although I had very good looks at it through a 20 - 45X scope in the early morning before the heat haze got going I have no photos and this is only the second claimed sighting for a Brown-headed Gull in Australia. The experts I consulted, and I do understand them, point out that without corroboration or a photo it may just be an aberrant Silver Gull. I do, however, believe it would be worth checking on if you are in the area; but you would be either very rich or
very brave to jump a flight to Broome just on my say-so.



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