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Monday, February 23, 2009

Kelp and Pacific, young and grown up

Mick at Sandy Straits and Beyond wrote earlier today about spotting a Kelp Gull. As Kelp and Pacific Gulls are very rare visitors up North, but are quite common here, on Tasmania, I decided to do a comparative post with some images taken over the last year and a half and illustrating the differences between the two types of big gulls and also the different 'clothes' they wear during different stages of their lives. The pattern of this post is Kelp, Pacific, Kelp, Pacific...

Pacific Gulls are slightly bigger than Kelp. According to the Slater Field Guide Pacific are 63cm, while Kelp are 57cm. Visually Pacific look a bit more massive and heavy, but not longer. Another very obvious difference is the bill. In Pacific it is more massive and both mandibles have red tips, while in Kelp only the tip of the lower mandible is tinted red. The tail of Pacific Gull ends with a black crescent, visible in flight, while the tail in Kelp is purely white.
above: juv. Kelp Gull
above: juv. Pacific Gull
above: young Kelp Gull
above: immature Pacific Gull
above: Kelp Gull
above: Pacific Gull
above: Kelp Gull
above: Pacific Gull
One last thing to add is that I think that Kelp Gull have the most beautiful Gull call that I have ever heard.
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  1. Thank you! That's a great post. The photos are beautiful but also so informative. I am intrigued with the wing of the adult Kelp Gull. The outer primaries do not appear to have that distinctive white tip as do the rest of the wing feathers - or is this a feature of a moult?

  2. Mate... what can i say. It's PhotoBlogs like yours that give me a little more sence of direction with photography. These are the kinds of images i'd love to be able to capture in the future. But i suppose everyone has to start somewhere right? An excelent blog.

  3. Hi Mick,
    sorry for such a delayed reply!
    I'm pretty sure that the black primary feathers are a typical feature.

  4. Hey Christopher,
    Thanks for dropping by!
    And thanks for your nice words too. Photography is such an exciting and inspiring hobby, isn't it?
    Good luck!