Lesser Black-backed Gull at Broome tip

To: "'Stephen Ambrose'" <>, <>
Subject: Lesser Black-backed Gull at Broome tip
From: "Jeff Davies" <>
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2013 20:20:01 +1100
G'day Stephen,

An interesting hypothesis, but I wonder at the combined probabilities of
first off a Baltic/Heuglin's finishing up in SA and secondly hybridizing
with a Kelp/Cape Gull then finally the offspring finding its way to Broome
and being seen by a birder. They are probably rather long odds I would

Cheers Jeff.

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Stephen
Sent: Wednesday, 23 January 2013 6:36 PM
Subject: Lesser Black-backed Gull at Broome tip

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.

Stephen Ambrose
Ryde, NSW


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