Western Gull?

Long-line season opened a little later this year, just late last week as I understand it (I recently learned that the season can open anywhere between the end of February and the end of March). As a result, there have been few concentrations of gulls to look at so far this year. That being the case, I didn’t expect to see much this morning while I was walking over to UAS for class, and indeed, the channel was pretty quiet as I looked over it while crossing the bridge. There were a few gulls in the little cove between the work float and Coast Guard dock, and while none of them stuck out strongly to my eyes, I decided to take a quick look through my binoculars as I walked by (I was already going to be a couple minutes late to class).

With binoculars, one of the gulls seemed distinctly darker and made me think I might be looking at a Western Gull. I only had time to take a few quick shots in the not yet bright light and I’ve included the best of them with this post.

Compared to the first Western Gull I saw back in 2008, this one does not seem to have quite as dark a mantle, nor are its eyes as pale yellow, but it does seem to match reasonably well with the Western Gull from last year. (This year’s gull’s eyes seem a bit darker in the photos than last year’s, but I think that’s because the pupils are much larger in this year’s due to the relatively dim light, whereas the one last year was in full sun.)

As I left class this morning, I saw a long-liner tied up at SPC and another down at North Pacific Seafoods, so it looks like long-liners are starting to deliver. There was much more gull activity in the channel, and while I was watching, it was clear there was some fish slurry that started being put out by SPC. Herring have not yet spawned, so I suspect that until they do (which could be any time in the next week or so), the channel will be pretty active with gulls, and there’s a decent chance this gull could be refound (though I did not see it the channel after class this morning).

1 thought on “Western Gull?”

  1. Matt
    I know I’m a long way away from you but you are quite correct in saying the mantle is too light in colour and lacks the dark feather fringing you would expect on an adult bird.
    My observation is with limited experience of Western’s on my trips to the west coast of the USA.
    Thanks again Ken Reeves

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