White-eyed Gull (L. leucophthalmus) & Sooty Gull (L. hemprichii)

(last update: 2-2-2011)

Avi Meir (Israel)
Mars Muusse (the Netherlands)

Sooty Gull L. hemprichii adult, March 04 2002, visitor's centre of Nabq National Park, SE Sinai, Egypt.

Sooty Gull has a thicker and straighter bill than White-eyed Gull, with a pronounced gonydeal angle. In all plumages the bill is clearly two-toned with a paler basal half and a dark tip. The basal half is yellowish-grey in immatures and yellow in adults. At close distance, the black tip of the bill in adult plumage appears to be a black bill-band with a small red tip. The eye crescent is less-defined in Sooty, yet obvious above the eye, white in adults and off-white in first winter plumage, but never as conspicuous as in White-eyed Gull. Normally the lower crescent is missing, where White-eyed Gull shows a clear crescent both above and below the eye. 
Sooty Gull is more robust than White-eyed Gull with a strong neck and high breast. It has a steep forehead (sloped forehead in White-eyed) and a rounder head-shape in profile, unlike the elongated pointed head-shape of White-eyed. 
The base colour of White-eyed Gull is greyish or brown-grey with the accent on the grey hue. Sooty Gull is obvious warmer brown; the immatures warm brown on the head and neck and adults warmer brown on the scapulars and mantle. Sooty Gull lacks the black feathers present on the head of second winter and adult winter White-eyed Gulls.