Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus)

(last update: March 12, 2015)

Coordinators:
Gary Allport (Mozambique)
Mars Muusse (Netherlands)

adult Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus)

The vetula subspecies of Kelp Gull breed on 81 known localities on the coast of Southern Africa from Ilha dos Tigres in southern Angola, along the Namibian and Atlantic coasts of South Africa, round the cape as far east as the Riet River, near Port Alfred on the Indian Ocean coast in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa (ref: Roberts Birds of Southern Africa). This gull is also colonising inland locations up to 10km from the coast on the Skeleton Coast in Namibia.

Breeding is spread over seven months with first egg dates ranging from late September to January and replacement clutches laid into February. First egg to fledging dates range from 72-100 days, so juveniles take to the wing from the end of October until possibly as late as April. As a consequence there is a broad spread in plumage ages across the population.

There is a well documented post breeding dispersal west and north on the Atlantic side, with a nursery area in Central Namibia for birds up to four years old. There is also a significant post breeding movement east to the Port Elizabeth region and some birds follow the sardine run northwards up the Indian Ocean coast, and small numbers reach Mozambique occurring as far north as the Bazaruto Archipelago.

This subspecies differs markedly from other Kelp Gull subspecies, especially in skull structure (a notably flatter crown), and some texts (examples will foolow) treat this form as a distinct species, known as Cape Gull. However there is no molecular evidence to support this and we follow Urban et al. in treating it as a subspecies of Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus.

IMMATURE AND ADULT GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL VS KELP GULL

Blackish upperparts and thick bill in Kelp Gull give it a Great Black-backed Gull impression. Kelp Gull is quick in attaining a dark saddle, where Great Black-Backed Gull keep anchor-patterned scapulars for a prolonged period.
Also, Kelp Gull remain to show very limited white in the primaries (either the tips and the mirror, see picture below), while Great Black-backed Gull quickly develop a mirror on P10 (in 2nd gen P10) and normally develop large white tips, even obvious on outermost primaries in many immature birds.
A very small mirror on P10 and absence of a P9 mirror in adult Kelp Gull give it a completely different, dark, wingtip impression when compared to adult Great Black-backed (which has a merged mirror and white tip on P10 and always a very large mirror on P9 as well in adult plumage).

Great Black-backed Gull (marinus) 2nd cycle, February 02 2012, IJmuiden, the Netherlands (Mars Muusse). No blackish saddle. 2nd gen primaries with rounded pale tips. Limited black in tail. Chequered coverts.

Kelp Gull dominicanus 2nd cycle, September 24 2011, Lima, Peru (John Turner). Upperparts tone equals Great Black-backed Gull, but this taxon has much more black in the tail, plain brown coverts, bright yellow on bill and lacking pale primary tips.

Great Black-backed Gull (marinus) 3rd cycle JW376 November 15 2012, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France (Jean-Michel Sauvage). Already large mirrro on P10 and bold white tipped primaries in 3rd cycle (3rd gen primaries).

Kelp Gull dominicanus 2nd cycle, December 10 2012, Australia (Mick). Upperparts tone equals Great Black-backed Gull, but this taxon has much more black in the wingtip (marinus in this plumage would show large mirrors already). Note yellowish legs.

Great Black-backed Gull (marinus) 8CY JH0R Boulogne-sur-Mer, France (Jean-Michel Sauvage). Ringed Vest-Agder, Norway. Limited head streaking in winter, dark small beady eye, blackish upperparts, pink legs, massive bird.

Kelp Gull dominicanus adult, June 30 2007, South Africa. Picture: J. Avise. Upperparts tone equals Great Black-backed Gull, but this taxon has much more black in the wingtip, with just a tiny mirror on the outer primary. Often yellowish legs and dark iris.

Great Black-backed Gull (marinus) adult, 2009-2011, Acer Port, Israel. (Amir Ben Dov). Note very large white tips on P10 (no sub-terminal black) and on P9 (black band broken) and no black on P5. Very powerful, huge massive bill and beady eye.

Kelp Gull dominicanus adult, January 06 2012, Antarctic Peninsula (Michael Shepard).Birds on the southern hemisphere are in complete moult in our winter months. Here moult in inner primaries P1 new, P2 groiwng, P5-P10 old. Dark as marinus, but much more black in wingtip with just a small mirror on P10 and full broad band on P5.

 

JANUARY - PRE-BASIC MOULT

8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus veltula) adult, January 06 2012, Neko Harbour, Antarctic Peninsula. Picture: Michael Shepard.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus dominicanus) adult, January 09 2014, Robert Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. Picture: David Cook.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus dominicanus) adult, January 13 2012, Elqui Prov. Chile. Picture: Blass Bass.

FEBRUARY - PRE-BASIC MOULT

8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, February 24 2015, Walbis Bay, Namibia. Picture: Rafael G. Sánchez.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus dominicanus) adult, February 21 2015, Muriwai, New Zealand. Picture: Christina Port.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus dominicanus) adult, February 28 2009, Maitencillo, Chile. Picture: José Canas.

MARCH

8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus dominicanus) adult, March 16 2014, Petorca Prov., Chile. Picture: Gonzalo Vergara.

APRIL

8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus dominicanus) adult, April 18 2008, La Perouse, Sidney, Australia. Picture: Mr Troy.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, May 17 2015, Maputo, Mozambique. Picture: Ross Hughes.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) 2nd cycle, April 26 2015, Maputo, Mozambique. Picture: Gary Allport.

JUNE - END OF PRE-BASIC MOULT

8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) N P adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus veltula) adult, June 30 2007, South Africa. Picture: J. Avise.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus dominicanus) adult, June 02 2009, La Perouse, Sidney, Australia. Picture: Mr Troy.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, June 2012, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Chris Gibbins.

JULY

8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, July 17 2012, Cape Cross Seal Reserve, Namibia. Picture: Tom Heijnen.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, July 25 2007, Kommetjie, South Africa. Picture: Graham Ekins.

SEPTEMBER

8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, September 25 2010, Hout Bay, South Africa. Picture: Dick Daniels.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus dominicanus) adult, September 09 2009, Bahia Inglesa, Chile. Picture: Jason Quinn.

NOVEMBER

8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus dominicanus) adult, November 26 2011, Isla Magdalena, Chile. Picture: Antonio Vaccarini.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus dominicanus) adult, November 08 2006, Karoro, New Zealand. Picture: Brian Gratwicke.
8210.jpg (74296 bytes)Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula) adult, November 07 2012, Kenton-on-Sea, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Picture: Wikipedia - Snowmanradio.