Posted February 08, 2018

Although always in low numbers, every year, between the first of August and the middle of March, we can enjoy in the center of Bilbao the presence of the Red-tailed Gull (Larus melanocephalus) .

Some of the observations occur since the beginning of August which is the date on which they return from their breeding colonies. More frequent are the observations between February and March before they return to their breeding grounds. They are also allowed to be seen on days of strong weather when they climb upwards in search of more sheltered places.

Normally they come up integrated into groups of rearing gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) which makes pass unnoticed given the, at first glance, similarity between both species. In this entry we will see the characteristics of the different plumages of the Cabecinegra Gull (Larus melanocephalus) since in this season 2016/2017 I have had the pleasure of photographing in the Ria as it passes through the capital Bizzina to this beautiful gull in its different ages, being the majority of the appointments in the section that goes from La Peña-San Antón to the neighborhood of Olabeaga.

The Cabecinegra Gull (Larus melanocephalus) has three age groups, this means that it reaches adult plumage in its third year. In the first year we can observe individuals with juvenile plumage and first winter plumage.

Juvenile plumage lasts until the beginning of September and shows a dark brown back, medium and small brown coverlets with dark centers that contrast with the gray tone of the larger blankets. Head, neck and flanks have more brown tones. The legs are dark. The following photos are taken in the first two weeks of August 2016.

Gulls (Larus melanocephalus) . Juvenile

Sea gull (Larus melanocephalus) . Juvenile

Seagull (Larus melanocephalus) .Primer winter

Seagull cabecinegra (Larus melanocephalus) .First winter

In its second year, between September and April, the Red-legged Gull (Larus melanocephalus) acquires second winter plumage. This plumage is similar to that of the winter adult unless it shows a black and white pattern in the primaries. The beak is pale with the dark tip and the legs are red dull. To illustrate this plumage, I'll put some photos taken at the beginning of February 2017.

Seagull cabecinegra (Larus melanocephalus) .Second winter


Seagull cabecinegra (Larus melanocephalus) .Second winter

The adult winter acquires this condition between July and February. The head is white with a dark mask with a variable extent from the eye to the nape. The back of the neck is tinged with pale gray. The beak is red off and has a black subterminal fringe. The legs are red. The following photos were taken between the end of January and the middle of February 2017.

Seagull cabecinegra (Larus melanocephalus) .Adulto invierno

Seagull cabecinegra < i> (Larus melanocephalus) .Last winter

Finally, in its third year and between the months of March and July it acquires its reproductive plumage (summer adult) , developing a black capirote that extends to the superior part of the neck. It has a white ring around the eye, with a dorsal and pale gray wings. The legs are coral red. The photos that illustrate this summer adult have been taken in recent days, specifically on February 24.

Seagull cabecinegra (Larus melanocephalus) .Adult summer

Seagull (Larus melanocephalus) .Adult summer

Seagulls (Larus melanocephalus) .Adult summer

Seagulls cabecinegra (Larus melanocephalus) .Adult summer

For me the adult Seagull cabecinegra (Larus melanocephalus) with its bridal plumage is one of the most beautiful seagulls. In brief we will stop seeing this species in Bilbao as they will go to their breeding colonies and it will not be until the end of the summer, after the breeding period, when again we will have occasion to see this small seagull. And meanwhile ...

... This is all for today's friends ...