Steppe Gull - barabensis

(last update: 8-9-2014 )

Mars Muusse (Netherlands)


barabensis 1CY July
barabensis 1CY Aug
barabensis 1CY Oct
barabensis 1CY Nov

barabensis 2CY Jan
barabensis 2CY Febr

barabensis 2CY March
barabensis 2CY May
barabensis 2CY July
barabensis 2CY Nov

barabensis 3CY June
barabensis 3CY Nov

barabensis sub-ad Jan
barabensis sub-ad June
barabensis sub-ad Nov

barabensis ad Jan
barabensis ad March
barabensis ad May
barabensis ad June
barabensis ad July
barabensis ad Nov
barabensis ad Dec


2CY barabensis: March

In Bahrain, barabensis in the numerical most common large gull, with about 70% of the birds belonging to this taxon. Below we (Theo & Mars Muusse) summarize some points taken in the field in Bahrain February - March 2001.

  • 1st generation, juvenile primaries, brown-black without a mirror. P1-p3 outer-web can be as dark as the other innermost primaries resulting in a complete dark inner-hand, but can also be contrastingly pale on both the inner and outer-web of p1-p3. The primaries are worn at the tips, especially p8-p10 (outermost).

  • Tail: 1st generation, with a broad dark sub terminal band.

  • Head shape dove-like with a thumbprint in front of the eye; bill dark, sometimes dark pinkish at the base; iris chestnut-brown at very close range in full sunlight.

  • Upper-parts: the scapulars and mantle are often worn 2nd generation. Different patterns are possible: dark grey-brown centre, paler at the top with a distinct anchor: black accentuated shaft-streak and sub terminal band. Some barabensis show plain slaty-grey 2nd generation scapulars, with or without an accentuated shaft-streak, almost adult-like. Some have just the centre pale brown and have otherwise almost white based scapulars, with a black shaft-streak and two black sub terminal bands.

  • Coverts: most barabensis do not moult any of the coverts, resulting in very worn wing coverts, sometimes leaving only a shaft. About 15% moult median, inner and innermost greater coverts. Sometimes the juvenile greater coverts are not worn, then showing a pale row on the folded wing, created by the white tips of the greater coverts. Fresh 2nd generation inner greater coverts show a pale brown or grey base, darker in the centre and a thin dark brown anchor, while the fringe is white. Older 2nd generation greater coverts, which are already worn in March, show more patterns, not unlike marinus (GBBG).

  • Tertials: often no moult, so still juvenile, plain brown centre and a narrow fringe, somewhat broader at the tip when still fresh (as occurs) but in most cases fringes worn of.

  • Under-wing coverts mottled 1st generation, or already moulted to 1st summer pure white under-wing.

Within the group of 1st winters, 4 classes could be determined and this classification is mentioned in the unidentified 2cy gulls as well (see the unIDed first summer section). It remains to be seen whether they all refer to barabensis, or if certain characteristics better apply to other races. We tried to use this classification for forecasting the under-wing colour and inner primary pattern. More on these result will be added later. Especially birds with advanced moult (class. 4.) were sometimes completely different from the class. 1. birds, also in feather pattern and jizz. These examples are still on the unIDed page and may remain unidentified. However, we believe barabensis can show tremendous variation in spring moult strategy and stage.

Class. 1:
2nd generation mantle and scapulars,
1st generation coverts, tail and tertials,
No active moult,
Often streaking on head, concentrated on lower neck.

Class. 2:
Mantle and scapulars 2nd generation, but lower scapulars acquired at a later stage, obvious differently patterned (often plain grey, resembling Archangelsk type of heuglini),
Actively moulting median, some lesser, inner greater coverts and often a single tertial,
1st generation tail,
Often streaking on head, concentrated on lower neck. 

Class. 3:
3rd generation mantle and scapulars,
Coverts 2nd generation, except outer greater coverts; those actively moulting,
Tertials 2nd generation,
Sometimes actively moulting tail, but at least one tail-feather 2nd generation.

Class. 4:
A grey type, with 3rd generation mantle and scapulars,
Coverts 2nd generation, worn,
Tertials 2nd generation, worn,
Under parts remarkable white,
Tail at least with some new feathers,
Almost no streaking in neck,
On average smaller, slender birds,
Bill is already pale with a distinct black tip.

Steppe Gull barabensis 2CY, March 02 2001, Ashkar, Bahrain.