Yellow-legged Gull - Geelpootmeeuw (L. michahellis)

(last update: 08 december 2003)


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Yellow-legged Gull michahellis 074S, June 2002 & 2003, Etaples, France (50.42N,1.34E).

A 3cy michahellis showing pale pinkish legs, a clear yellow base of the bill, a rather dark iris, a red gonydeal spot (although obscured by the black bill-band) and complete grey upper-parts (mantle and scapular region). The orbital ring is obviously red. This bird was ringed near Marseille, S France, probably in year 2000. When data are available, more information will be added.
Most grey feathers in the wing-coverts are in better condition than the barred feathers, and apparently moulted later, i.e. in the partial autumn moult in 2cy (September-October). The inner greater coverts, the inner medians, a few lower lesser and some lesser coverts appear plain grey. The upper tertials are at least third generation as well, maybe even fourth generation, depending on the extend of the partial post-juvenile moult and the partial autumn moult as 2cy.

The tail is complete and all rectrices are second generation. The primary moult stage is P5 old, P4 missing. By mid-June, several 3cy michahellis were observed with primary moult score P3 missing / P4 old or with P4 missing / P5 old. Records in the surveys are too low to extract any conclusions, but 3cy birds are on average 1.5-1.8 primaries behind compared with 2cy birds. Extrapolation of figures can be read from the following table, with the conclusion that 3cy michahellis primary score will be at about 4.9-5.4 by mid-June. 

Primary moult score in 3cy Larus michahellis, Etaples, NW France on June 28 2003 (09:00 h, low tide).
. P2 fg P3 fg P4 fg P5 fg ? fg n:
P5-P10 1 - - - 6 7
P6-P10 - 3 - - 34 37
P7-P10 - 4 3 1 27 35
P8-P10 - - 1 2 2 5
n: 1 7 4 3 69 84
n = 84; m old P = 4.5; SD old P = 0.73.
Group: 3x 3cy michahellis not scored; total michahellis present: 300+.
P6-P10 = P6-P10 are still old and present.
? fg = fully grown not known. Often referring to sleeping birds with folded wings, so fully grown primary score most probably P6 or less.
fg = fully grown. In our field surveys, a primary is 'fully grown' when it exceeds the previous feather in the folded wing. Actually,  such 'fully grown' feathers may have to grow a little, but under field circumstances, it's very difficult to find out if the waxy sheath, which is the standard measurement for fully grown primaries, is still present. 
3cy identified on absence of P10 mirror & bare parts coloration.

In the wing-coverts, active moult has been suspended in this individual. There are no moult gaps and the grey wing-coverts and tertials which were included in the partial moult are already slightly abraded.

top image: michahellis 074S 3cy, June 14 2002, Etaples.

bottom image: michahellis 074S 4cy, June 28 2003, Etaples.

074S was seen again at Etaples by late June 2003. The primary moult score: P6-P10 still old. P1-P3 are fully grown (P3 obviously longer than P2 but an inch or so to grown). Dark primary coverts. The complete tail is present and plain white. Note the limited black markings on the bill and the brown abraded wing-coverts.