Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis

(last update: October 08 2013)

Delfín González
Gabriel Martín
Antonio Gutierrez
Amir Ben Dov
Mars Muusse

Yellow-legged Gull michahellis 1CY August 24 2000, Etaples, NW France. 

For identification of 1CY Yellow-legged gull in flight it's best to concentrate on :
- the absence of a clear  'window' (as in Herring Gull argentatus and to a lesser extend in Pontic Gull cachinnans) in the inner hand;
- the wedge-shaped tail-band that contrasts with the white rump and upper tail coverts (on average smallest tail-band of 1CY West European large white-headed gulls).

Clearly, this is a broad-winged gull, with a relatively dark inner hand, although the inner webs are slightly paler and some paler spots are visible on both webs. Hence, the wing is not as intense dark as in 1CY Lesser Black-backed Gulls (LBBG, graellsii). The tail-band is broad in the centre and gradually smaller at the outer rectrices. Black markings can be found at the demarcation line of the rectrices and the upper-tail coverts are coarsely marked on a white base. 
As in many YLG's in August, a considerable part of the scapulars has already been moulted to 2nd generation feathers, while the median and lesser coverts are in active moult. 
Note also the heavy black bill and pale head.
This combination only fits YLG and excludes Herring Gull (with, at least, a paler window at the inner primaries and a broad tail-band) as well as LBBG (with amongst others, a broad tail-band and all-dark inner primaries). The latter species has on average a narrower wing with a more pointed hand and normally doesn't show such an advanced moult stage of coverts. The amount of black on the tail of the gull in the picture doesn't necessarily excludes LBBG, but more commonly, LBBG's show finer 'freckling' on the tail-base instead of the coarse markings as in this bird.