We all like a good gull whether it be a Med amongst the Black heads, a Glaucous caught up between the Herrings or a Ring-Billed in the mix of a Common Gull flock! It always provides that element of challenge and one of which that attracts me to sites like Richmond Bank in Cheshire or the gull roost at Pensarn. With 14 species of gull under my belt in the UK, I always still look forward to seeing the 'white wingers' during the winter.
I've seen a few Iceland Gulls now all over North Wales and I can never get bored of seeing them. A first winter arrived at Pentre Mawr Park nearly two weeks ago and after spending two days of my holiday looking for it, I gave up! Of course, being away elsewhere at the weekend that followed, the bird gave incredible views down to a few feet.
I had to wait to the weekend after until I eventually caught up with the bird which was much easier to see. The bird stood out extremely clearly against the sands and made it an easy focus for the camera.
Between the two regular 'white wingers', Iceland Gull's are always the softer looking bird whereas the much larger, harsher faced Glaucous is quite apparent in the field (not that you should use this as a reliable source for identification!!). In a nutshell, size is the main factor between these species and bill length/thickness and general bulkiness are all factors for splitting the species.
Comparing the size to a Herring Gull is the safest means of identification. Iceland Gull are smaller whereas Glaucous Gulls are much bigger. The Iceland Gull at Pensarn is a typical first winter bird still retaining a lot of it's juvenile dis-coloured white plumage. As the winter wears on, the bird's plumage will become cleaner.
Like this bird, the majority of first winter Iceland Gulls will have a pinkish pale base to the bill. It's a bird that can't really be missed whilst scanning the nearby flocks of gulls. Iceland Gulls are really apparent in flight also and give a 'ghost' like appearance in the bird/gull world.
A beautiful bird nevertheless and with it being so confiding, it's one opportunity certainly not to be missed!