I'm clearly not experienced or qualified enough to identify this bird, but I
have been following this discussion with interest.
What I have discerned from the discussions so far is that the bird in the
photo does not fit neatly into what we would expect for a single species. I
have also gathered that the experts seem to be leaning towards one of three
species: Heuglin's Gull (Larus heuglini), Lesser Black-backed Gull (L.
fuscus) and Kelp Gull (L. dominicanus).
A possible identification, combining peoples' comments about the gull with
Greg's helpful link to an explanation of ring species (thanks Greg) is a
heuglini/fuscus hybrid. But Jeff and some of the northern hemisphere gull
experts are concerned that this bird has some features that don't match
those of Heuglin's or Lesser-backed Gulls. It has been further suggested
that the bird is a Kelp Gull (L. dominicanus), but there is still a lot of
unease with this identification.
Is it possible, therefore, that at a Heuglin's or Lesser Black-backed Gull
(or a hybrid of the two) has strayed or has been blown out of arctic waters,
or even carried by ship, to the southern African or South American coastline
and interbred with a Kelp Gull, and a resultant hybrid has made it to the WA
coastline? It's just a thought, unlikely to be correct, and which may be
supported or rejected if DNA can be extracted from feather pulp, as
suggested by Jeff.
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