Mark Lewis, co-author of Birding in the San Juan Islands, left a comment on my recent Whidbey Island blog post questioning the ID of the gull in the photo I posted. I identified this gull as a western gull, but he suggested it might be a Thayer's gull:
After closer examination and a little research, I'm still doubtful it is a Thayer's gull for the following reasons: A) The bill does not show a two-tone greenish tinge, B) the legs are not a deep pink, C) the head shape is more flat than rounded, and D) the underside of the far primary is not pure white (see Greg Gillson's discussion here). However, I'm now wondering if it couldn't be a herring gull? Or a glaucous x western hybrid? Your input encouraged.
Is anyone else starting to think that maybe most or all of the Larus gulls should be considered one species? Once I'm getting into reading about all these hybrids and back-crossings, I've got to wonder.
Regardless of the final conclusion on this gull's identity, I for the time being am going to keep it #114 on the year list. Thus I closed out January with 114 birds on the year list, 14 species above my goal and a whopping 27 species above last year's January total.
The only other bird I've added since then is this greater yellowlegs (15) I saw at Jackson Beach yesterday:
I also went for a walk at British Camp today, but was unable to find the varied thrush that has eluded me thus far this year.
Next up, a couple more marine science notes of interest, plus a report back after checking in with some other gull references.