Mediterranean Gull (L. melanocephalus)

(last update: June 11, 2012)

3CY MEDITERRANEAN GULL

First half of the year (January - June) the primaries show much black with white tips in 3CY birds, obvious also in a closed wing (image above).
In summer a complete moult takes place, replacing all feathers including primaries. Below, a bird missing the central primaries, showing the pattern on old 2nd generation P9-P10 in August.

After the complete moult the new primaries are 3rd generation. Some birds have still traces of black along the shafts of the outer primaries, and can be aged as 3CY bird in autumn. Other birds develop distinct white primaries with a characteristic black line, just as in full adults (image below). Pictures: J.M. Sauvage.

The spring moult in Mediterranean Gull is again a partial moult, from February to April and includes body and head, bringing birds in so-called "second summer" plumage. Most noticeable is the replacement of head feathers: the head becomes darker with most birds developing a full hood, some still show limited flecking. The white tips of the primaries become slightly worn. The colour of bare parts become adult-like, with the orbital ring and bill turning coral red, the bill often with a black bill-band of varying width. The legs are scarlet red. The iris turns deep reddish-brown. As with 2CY birds there is individual variation in this age group but it is less pronounced and mostly involves the amount of black in the outer primaries and the fullness of the hood.

From June to September, a complete moult takes place, into so-called "third winter" or "adult winter" plumage. The head pattern resembles the pattern in first winter birds, with blackish mask behind the eye. The mantle, scapulars, tertials and all the wing-coverts are replaced for plain pearl-grey feathers. The secondaries are completely white. The adult primaries are shiny pearly-grey, flashing white at a distance. There is a black line along the outer-web of P10 (and sometimes on P9 as well). Secondaries, under-wing and tail all completely white. The bare part coloration in adult plumage: Iris brown, orbital ring red or orangey-red, the bill red or orangey-red with a black bill-band and a yellowish tip and the legs dull reddish or dark. There is some variation in 3cy and 4cy wing-tip patterns.

ADULT MEDITERRANEAN GULL

The next moult in Mediterranean Gull is again a partial moult, from December to March-April and includes body and head, leaving birds in so-called "adult summer" plumage. The head develops a jet-black hood, extending down the nape. Adult birds have broad and contrasting white crescents above and below the eye. The bare part coloration in adult plumage: Iris brown, orbital ring coral red, the bill scarlet red often with a thin black bill-band and a yellowish tip and the legs red.

3RD CALENDAR YEAR (3CY) January - December
3cy Mediterranean Gull Budapest 368817 (89915 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy 368817 January 03 2002, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France (50.42N,1.34E).
3cy Mediterranean Gull (72060 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy, January 03 2002, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France (50.42N,1.34E).
3cy Mediterranean Gull ringed green L33, in February. (57051 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy L33 February 06 2003, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France (50.42N,1.34E).
3cy Mediterranean Gull in February. (64142 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy, February 06 2003, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France (50.42N,1.34E).
3cy Mediterranean Gull in February. (62591 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy, February 06 2003, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France (50.42N,1.34E).
3cy Mediterranean Gull ringed green 3CA9, in February. (64949 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy 3CA9 February 07 2003, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France (50.42N,1.34E).
3cy Mediterranean Gull ringed green K57 in February. (67794 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy K57 February 07 2003, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France (50.42N,1.34E).
3cy Mediterranean Gull in February. (50170 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy, February 07 2003, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France (50.42N,1.34E).
3 adult Mediterranean Gulls, including red ringed 731Mediterranean Gull 1cy-3cy 32E0 2008-2010, Le Portel / Boulogne-sur-Mer, NW France. Picture: Jean-Michel Sauvage.
3cy Mediterranean Gull in March. (69630 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy, March 17 2003, Boulogne/Mer, France (50.42N,1.34E).
1cy argenteus in November, ringed in Belgium. (25637 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy 3S4 May 14 2011, Antwerpen, Belgium. Picture: Pim Wolf.
1cy argenteus in November, ringed in Belgium. (25637 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy 7S7 May 14 2011, Antwerpen, Belgium. Picture: Pim Wolf.
3cy Mediterranean Gull in August, green E52. (91304 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy R11S July 03 2012, Le Portel, France.
3cy Mediterranean Gull in August, green E52. (91304 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy R31X July 03 2012, Le Portel, France.
3cy Mediterranean Gull in August, green E52. (91304 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy R76E July 13 2012, Le Portel, France.
3cy Mediterranean Gull white 4HSMediterranean Gull 3cy 4HS July 28 2001, Le Portel, France (50.42N,01,34E).
3cy Mediterranean Gull white 3FZMediterranean Gull 3cy 3FZ July 30 2001, Le Portel, France (50.42N,01,34E).
3 adult Mediterranean Gulls, including red ringed 731Mediterranean Gull 3cy LTD August 08 2009, Le Portel / Boulogne-sur-Mer, NW France. Picture: Jean-Michel Sauvage.
3cy Mediterranean Gull in August, green E52. (91304 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy E52 August 09 2003, Le Portel, France.
adult Mediterranean Gull in August. (89219 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 46M 3cy, August 10 2004, Le Portel, France.
adult Mediterranean Gull in August. (67334 bytes)Mediterranean Gull H07 3cy, August 10 2004, Le Portel, France.
adult or 3cy Mediterranean Gull (61463 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy or adult, September 20 2002, Boulogne/Mer, France (50.42N,1.34E).
3 adult Mediterranean Gulls, including red ringed 731Mediterranean Gull 3cy H0F1 October 21 2014, Boulogne-sur-Mer, NW France. Picture: Jean-Michel Sauvage.
3 adult Mediterranean Gulls, including red ringed 731Mediterranean Gull 3cy 3L22 November 26 2007, Le Portel / Boulogne-sur-Mer, NW France. Picture: Jean-Michel Sauvage.
3 adult Mediterranean Gulls, including red ringed 731Mediterranean Gull 1-3cy HRF1 2008-2010, Le Portel / Boulogne-sur-Mer, NW France. Picture: Jean-Michel Sauvage.
3 adult Mediterranean Gulls, including red ringed 731Mediterranean Gull adult 3L03 December 03 2009, Le Portel / Boulogne-sur-Mer, NW France. Picture: Jean-Michel Sauvage.
adult Mediterranean Gull green 219, in February. (63513 bytes)Mediterranean Gull 3cy AHSJ December 08 2010, Le Portel / Boulogne-sur-Mer, NW France. Picture: Jean-Michel Sauvage.