Lesser Black-backed Gull at Broome tip

To: "'Nikolas Haass'" <>, "'Mike Carter'" <>, "'Tony Palliser'" <>, <>
Subject: Lesser Black-backed Gull at Broome tip
From: "Jeff Davies" <>
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2013 00:45:32 +1100
Ok everyone, time to put the kettle on for a cup of tea and calm down.
Nobody should be embarrassed by how this bird is eventually identified because 
it is a very difficult individual, so let's take stock of the awkward bits.

1- the bird has a somewhat hefty bill and that doesn't scream out fuscus.
2- it's a genuinely dark bird, this wasn't easy to work out from the earliest 
photos, but Rohan's images clinch this, probably too dark even for typical nom 
3- the wing is dark but black features on Ps5 and 6 are easily discerned 
against greyer rest of feather, not really what you would expect on a fully 
adult fuscus, but might not be impossible.
4- Rohan's dorsal shot shows the remnants of a small white mirror on inside web 
of P9, apparently 5% to 16%(KM Olsen) of fuscus can have this especially males, 
this sort of works with the bill size. White mirror on P9 is more common for 
ssp intermedius which I have to say this bird looks a hell of a lot like 
according to all of these awkward features and ignoring the extremely reduced 
likelihood of that form ever reaching Australia. 
5- this bird has dark tips to under-primary coverts and a mid-tone eye, both 
features of immaturity in conflict with everything else shown by this bird. 
Could the less than black inner webs of Ps 5 and 6 contrasting with black outer 
feature consequently also indicate a younger adult fuscus, just throwing ideas 
up in the air here. Would seem odd for a younger adult to show mirror on P9 but 
that may be irrelevant. Fuscus is known to mature a year ahead of the other 
Lesser Black Backed forms.
6- The bill is very bright yellow, this probably works better for fuscus than 

So we are sort of left with an "intermedius-like" younger adult? fuscus. This 
bird is definitely not easy and will probably be solved in Europe rather than 

Cheers Jeff.

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Nikolas Haass
Sent: Tuesday, 22 January 2013 10:27 PM
To: Mike Carter; Tony Palliser; 
Cc: 'George Swann of Kimberley Birdwatching'; 'Jim Allen'; 'Danny Rogers'; 
'Tony Palliser'; 'Rohan Clarke'
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Lesser Black-backed Gull at Broome tip

Hi Mike,

No, this is not an incredible way to argue because it wasn't intended to be an 
experiment using the Broome gull as a 'control'. I was just wondering if the NW 
India birds, in turn, can be used as a valid 'control' for the Broome bird. 
There has been a long discussion about these birds in India and apparently it 
still has not been resolved which taxa winter in NW India. So, yes, the Indian 
birds could be heuglini OR taimyrensis.

To the Broome bird: It still doesn't look like a perfect L. f. fuscus to me for 
the reasons I discussed in previous mails. I know that some people favour L. f. 
fuscus, but to my knowledge a number of people besides me have made the case 
for L. f./h. heuglini, too. I agree that the bird is too dark for taimyrensis, 
which I suggested based on iris colour and bill shape. I am interested in the 
identification of this bird and contributed to it to my best knowledge. 

BTW in case the bird will be proven to be a L. f. fuscus, I won't be 
embarrassed at all.

Nikolas Haass

Sydney, NSW

 From: Mike Carter <>
To: Nikolas Haass <>; Tony Palliser <>; 

Cc: 'George Swann of Kimberley Birdwatching' 
<>; 'Rohan Clarke' 
<>; 'Danny Rogers' <>; 'Tony 
Palliser' <>; 'Jim Allen' <>
Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 9:59 PM
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Lesser Black-backed Gull at Broome tip

Nikolas, what an incredible way to argue? It seems that you are saying that 
because you say that the Broome bird is heuglini that is what it is and any 
evidence leading to a contrary conclusion must be false. Surely the logical 
conclusion is that the Indian birds are paler than the Broome bird because they 
are heuglini as would be expected at that site whereas the Broome bird is 
fuscus as the colour and other factors suggest. 
Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mount Eliza  VIC
Tel  (03) 9787 7136

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU