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|Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) Gulls, Terns and Skimmers (Laridae)|
|dk: Tangmåge es: Gaviota Meridional|
2013-01-12 Puerto de Manzanillo, Colima (Col), Mexico
FIRST FOR THE NORTH AMERICAN WEST COAST?
Adult. The slender head, the powerful bill and the very dark mantle, practically, excludes all other species, and there seems to be consensus about the identification.
The bird is very worn, especially the hand, and this fits very well with a bird from the southern hemisphere in January. Never saw the bird fly or really close. But in picture 2 it is possible to perceive that the leg color is grayish green which fits well with this species.
First for Colima.
2019-02-22 Mazatlán, Sinaloa (Sin), Mexico
Subadult - third winter type (Klaus Malling Olsen & Hans Larsson terminology).
When we started to scan the beach this bird stood out instantly as a suspected Kelp Gull. I still had the bird I found in Colima some years ago present in mind, and it looked very similar regarding the color of the back. And this time I was pretty sure that none of the regional darker-backed alternatives would be relevant to consider, since non of them, essentially Western and Yellow-footed, show such a dark back and less so in combination with the clearly lime-green feet.
The bird still has some dark markings in the tail indicating a near-adult only. This also supported by a paler than adult-like hand, including the absence of the adult-typical white mirror on P10 (this was also the case with the bird present in California in 2016, see ebird). Plus, supported by the coloration of the orbital ring which is normally described as red for the species, but as the close-up pictures show, the orbital color on this bird is purely warm yellow, without any hints of red. Having seen photos of birds with the same orbital color from Chile, I think KMO&HL are correct when describing the color for a third-winter type bird as between yellow and orange-yellow. Notice, however, how the orbital ring often looks red at the border when the bird is seen from a distance.
The bird wasn't interacting with the other gulls present, only when in conflict over food. In picture 15 the bird is seen with three Heermann's, two California and to the right of it a Lesser Black-backed Gull (see 2939 for details on the latter). Even though the light is a bit harsh it is still possible to appreciate the differences to the back color of the last three species.
I think the combination of the bulbous bill, the broad white trailing edge to the arm, the back color and the lime-green feet exclude all other gull species.
Klaus Malling Olsen consulted, and is agreeing with the identification.
2020-01-08 Mazatlán, Sinaloa (Sin), Mexico
Adult bird. Found it on the same beach, Playa Norte, as last year's bird, 2938. Comparing the two there seems to be some indications that they could be the same bird, but I'm not sure.
Last year's bird showed black in various tail feathers, including the out left rectrice which also has a black line on this year's bird. Also the black markings on the tip of the bill and the shape of the nostril seem to be equal, as does the gape line. But the size of the red spot on the lower mandible is different between the two. I'm not sure to how big a degree the birds physical and hormonal conditions will affect the shape and size of this spot. If not, they must be different individuals.
This year's bird seems to be less worn maintaining all the white tips to the primaries and also shows more winter streaking on the back side of the head and neck. Should the two be the same, this makes sense since the present bird is observed one and a half month earlier into the molt cycle than the one last year.
Other gulls in the photos are Ring-billed and Heermann's, plus in photo 9 and 10 two adult Western Gulls. The different back colors between the Westerns and the Kelp were much more obvious in the field than indicated in these photos.
As last year, this year's bird was present when the tide was low. I had visited both on the 4th and the 5th of January without any interesting gulls present. Not even the Westerns. Increasing food availability when the tide is low seems to be a good explanation to why the birds show up.