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This probable 3rd-Basic western Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans ponticus) was photographed by Martin Reid at Milton Landfill near Cambridge, England on March 10, 1999. Dick Newell and I independantly picked out this bird but had some reservations because of the shortish bill (lacking any black subterminally) and apparent brownish marks on the underbody - especially the "throat-patch". Note that female cachinnans look very different than males - more like a Mew/Common Gull in structure. Looking at the photos of the underwing and leading edge of the upperwing, I wonder if this a retarded 3rd-basic or even an advanced 2nd-basic? this would account for the sparse underbody marks; the "throat-patch" was seen to have disappeared a hour later - thus it was staining; maybe some of the other marks are also stains? Dick studied the bird's behaviour and warmed to it being Caspian Gull, as they can be picked out among other large gulls by their actions: always doing something, never standing still for long - instead wandering around among the other resting gulls and pecking at things on the ground all the time - especially at things on the bottom in shallow water; also often aggressing to other gulls (usually dominant over all forms except perhaps marinus). We finally agreed that this was very probably a female Caspian Gull - it certainly did not fit any other gull normally found at Milton, where they get fair numbers of michahellis (usually nominate, but sometimes probable Portuguese or atlantis) and a few cachinnans every winter, in with lots of argenteus, graellsii, marinus, and a scattering of argentatus and intermedius:

- aggressing at a dark 1B marinus