Thursday 16 January 2014

Black-tailed Gull

Black-tailed is not only one of the easiest gulls to identify but also one of the first Japanese birds a visitor to Kansai will see. If arriving at Kansai airport, they can usually be seen from the train crossing the bridge fom the man-made island airport to the mainland. They are a common year round gull and breed on both the region's coasts.

I have seen flocks high over Kyoto taking a short-cut across the country but basically they are a strictly coastal species. A specific site for these gulls isn't necessary as a day along any coastline all but guarantees seeing them, there should be large numbers at any fishing harbour. I don't always see them on the Yamato River, my usual gulling site in Osaka, but one or two usually drop in briefly during the course of a day.

Most of the images below are of moulting September birds in Sendai harbour from the Nagoya to Tomakomai ferry.


A typical juvenile with second generation mantle feathers, 22 September.

A much paler type juvenile with inner coverts, scapulars and tertials with extensive whitish ground colour. Again some mantle feathers have been renewed, 22 September. 

A much darker bird on the Yamato River, Osaka. Apparently full juvenile two months later on  21 November.

Two shots of an even darker juvenile on the Yamato River, 5 December.


First summer moulting into second winter, 22 September.

Second winters.


Moulting into third winter, 22 September.


Non-breeding adult, 22 September.

Adult with ongoing primary moult, 22 September.

Breeding adults, 23 March.

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