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This Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus ssp? ) was video-ed (upper three images, by John and Barbara Ribble) and photographed (remaining images by Martin Reid) at Victoria Landfill, Texas on February 7, 2000. This bird was seen on one of those days when the degree of contrast between mantle tones was very hard to see (and capture on film); e.g. the difference between Laughing Gull (LAGU) and Ring-billed Gull appeared very slight - thus the perceived tone of the mantle is lighter than it may have been in real life. In direct comparison with LAGU at the same angle it was very slightly darker. Note the very rounded (Greater Scaup-like) head, and rather gentle bill with a minimal gonydal angle. The most interesting feature was the state of the primaries (more text below):

- note that during this viewing period P10 on the nearest wing was dislodged and wedged just below the tip of P6, obscuring the remainder of the tips. Note the small whitish crescent far from the tip of P10 on both wings. Note in particular that P6 ( and P4, P5 were similar) appears visibly blacker than P10 or indeed P7 - P10 (mainly seen on far wing). P4 and P5 had large clean pristine white apical spots (smaller on P5 than P4) and P6 had a small white apical fringe, while P7 - 10 lacked any apical spots, and while they looked somewhat worn there was no sign of the typical indentation evident when the apical spot has worn away:

- Note the size compared to HEGUs (rather large - as big as small HEGUs) rather tall stance (the legs looked a bit longer than typical for graellsii, and were grayish-flesh, with no yellowish tones), and the uniform, adult-like appearance of the back, mantle, and wing coverts on the stationary bird.

- note the prominent black on P4; This pattern is very unusual in graellsii (but normal in heuglini).

- The small amount of black in the tail and in the primary coverts confirm that this is not an adult. Okay, so what is going on in the primaries? At first glance it looked like it was undergoing inner primary molt, but close inspection of the images leaves me feeling that there is some kind of strange wear taking place; it is odd that the gap is symmetrical at P6/P7, yet asymmetric on the left wing at P4/P5. I lack the very latest Scando-European articles about the identification of heuglini, but I understand that its molt strategy is more similar to fuscus than graellsii/intermedius in that it regularly starts to remolt the inner primaries in late Winter/early Spring (can anyone confirm this and provide a reference?) - in fact I would suggest that this is one simple feature that all gullers should look for in Feb - April when checking LBBG-types. Interestingly, One of the heuglini I saw in Bahrain in early March showed a similar effect in the wing - look at it here.

- in this last image, the gonydal angle looks more pronounced .
I would appreciate getting any feedback about this most interesting bird - thank you.