Caspian Gull - Kaspische Meeuw

Caspian Gull

Kaspische Meeuw

Larus cachinnans

Pictures: Teus Luijendijk


6 February 2005, Katwijk aan Zee ZH

27 February 2005, Leiden ZH


6 February 2005, Katwijk aan Zee ZH

Also (wrongly) called Pontic Gull ("Pontische Meeuw" in dutch), this species was recently split from Yellow-legged Gull L. michahellis, with which it was long considered to be conspecific. Recent mt-DNA research has shown, however, that it takes a rather separate place when genetic material of all taxa of the Herring Gull complex is compared. The split decision seems therefore to be fully justified.
It is a gull of SE Europe, and in our country it is mainly found in the southeast, too. Some do turn up along the coast though, and the gull groups at Katwijk aan Zee seem to provide a good opportunity to find this species in late winter. It can often be picked out on jizz alone, as it has an elongated shape, with a 'high breast' and long well-protruding wingtips. Legs are long and the bill is rather slender, with a sometimes barely noticeable gonydeal angle. First-winters (like the bird shown here) can be picked out by their whitish heads and rather grey, boldly patterned mantle.

Caspian Gull  -  Kaspische Meeuw   Larus cachinnans   first-winter; digital pictures.
Katwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands, 6 February 2005.


27 February 2005, Leiden ZH

Adults can be very like Herring Gulls but they often stand out because of their slender build, rather narrow bill, and peculiar head shape with a brown iris.
This bird popped up in a tiny little park on the city center edge of Leiden, and was found by a fellow birder who thoughtfully notified me. I took some pictures without using binoculars or telescope, the best of which is shown below.
The bird did not show the characteristic greenish-grey leg colour (but pink instead), and the gonydeal angle wasn't very weak either. It did show, however, the characteristic large amounts of black on the outer webs of the outer primaries as well as the typical facial expression, caused by the dark beady eye.

Caspian Gull  -  Kaspische Meeuw   Larus cachinnans   adult winter; digital picture.
Leiden ZH, The Netherlands, 27 February 2005.


Copyright ©Teus Luijendijk 2005