Can anyone help with a gull identification problem? While on a business
trip to St Petersburg Florida I had the chance to do a few beach walks.
There were numerous loose associations of laughing gulls, a few
Bonapartes gulls, and Royal, sandwich and 2 least terns (one banded),
some sanderlings, ruddy turnstones, and a willet. In a small group of
about 10 loafing 2nd yr laughing gulls were 2 anomalous birds. All were
in winter plumage with light mantles. One bird had a orange-red bill
with a strongly demarcated black tip and pink legs. Underside of the
primaries was dark (I had only a brief glimpse as the bird stretched out
a wing) The second bird had a mottled reddish and black bill with a
black tip and black legs, and more of its breeding plumage hood visible.
These birds were similar in size to the other gulls in the group. The
lighting was tricky re gauging mantle and primary coloration as it was
about 6 PM. So is the one bird a Black headed gull and the second bird
a laughing gull in "alternate" coloration? Unfortunately I didn't have a
camera this trip - I will be better prepared next time.
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