Hastings Gull

30th March 2010, Tuesday

An interesting large gull appeared on the harbour arm at Hastings at 11.45 this morning. I had been looking at the immature Great Black-backed Gulls earlier but a further look suddenly revealed a mystery bird perching close to the spray-drenched western edge of the wall. It was larger than Herring Gull and appeared all-pale but the bill was mainly black. It then flew up showing all-white wings but with a light brown secondary bar on the wing. It circled and dropped down onto the boating lake and rested there for some minutes while I walked there and had a good view of it. Pale plumaged with light buff fringes, however primary extension very long, rather incongruously so for such a hefty bird, extending far beyond the tip of the tail. The body rather bulky yet somehow ‘rangy’ and structure reminiscent of Herring Gulls which it perched alongside. Legs long, rather thin-looking and very pale flesh-grey. The substantial bill was black except for a bright pink narrow base and basal area of the cutting edges.

In flight again and sailing and circling overhead when last seen – the bird had a powerful and well-proportioned appearance – the wings although long appeared broad-armed and complemented the body mass in a way that Iceland Gulls can show – despite having a long primary extension a appear broad-winged shape in flight.

Appearance rather like an oversized large-billed Iceland Gull in first winter plumage from below but otherwise with brownish sub-terminal band on upperwing secondaries and a hint of brownish on the leading edge of the wing but these discrepancies not apparent from below. The primaries were as first winter Glaucous Gull.