Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
(last update: October 08 2013)
Larus michahellis - 3CY April
This website deals with the Yellow-legged Gull taxon michahellis, which is a common migrant from July to December in NW Europe. After extensive expansion of the breeding population during the last three decades, it nowadays can be found breeding in Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain in mixed couples with both Herring Gull (argenteus) and Lesser Black-backed Gull (graellsii). There are subtle differences between the populations from the Mediterranean, Atlantic coast of Portugal and Morocco and from the islands in the Atlantic. Most pronounced differences can be found in the taxon atlantis, now regarded as full species by some authors and birds along the Atlantic coast of the Iberian peninsular: lusitanius. Both atlantis and lusitanius are treated in their own sections on this website.
By April, 3CY michahellis show an almost similar plumage as 2CY October birds. There is hardly any additional moult in the wing-coverts, but in general the grey 'saddle' becomes more prominent. 3CY michahellis in spring typically has the bare part rich-coloured, i.e. deep yellow legs, pale iris, obvious yellow bill-base, red gonydeal spot, although often (semi) obscured by the black bill-band.
Moult stage and pace of remiges and rectrices
By late-April, 3CY michahellis may show moult in the rectrices, a featured shared with 3CY LBBG in April. Primaries and secondaries are all presnt by April; the complete moult will start in May.
Timing and strategy of April moult
The complete moult will take all the summer months, in which 3CY michahellis will replace all the scapulars, wing-coverts, tertials and flight-feathers. This complete moult starts with dropping the innermost primaries, often from the second week of May onwards. By April, the partial spring moult just ends, leaving birds with clean white heads and rich-coloured bare parts. The last immature patterned scapulars have been replaced as well in the partial moult, now creating a complete grey saddle (mantle and scapulars), contrasting with the barred lesser coverts.
By April, only very few 3CY michahellis can be found along the coasts of SW Netherlands and NW France. The majority remains at lower latitudes. Those which are present at Etaples (about 5-10 individuals by April 30 2003), probably belong to michahellis from the colonies of Marseille and the Mediterranean coast.
|Yellow-legged Gull michahellis 3CY 315J April 04 2004, Sete, S. France. Picture: Philippe Boissel.|
|Yellow-legged Gull michahellis 3CY male, April 25 2011, Tel Aviv - University Garden, Israel. Picture: Amir Ben Dov. Breeding.|
|Yellow-legged Gull michahellis 3CY, April 16 2011, Tel Aviv - University Garden, Israel. Picture: Amir Ben Dov.|
|Yellow-legged Gull michahellis 3CY, April 25 2011, Tel Aviv - University Garden, Israel. Picture: Amir Ben Dov.|
|Yellow-legged Gull michahellis 3CY, April 02 2013, Gibraltar, UK. Picture: Steven.|
|Yellow-legged Gull michahellis 3CY, April 30 2003, Etaples, NW France (50.44N-01.35E).|