Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Heermann's Gulls off San Diego

Heermann's Gull
Heermann's Gull off San Diego, California. March 8, 2014. Greg Gillson.
Heermann's Gulls breed in Baja California in late winter and early spring. When finished, they undertake a post-breeding wandering along the immediate coastline to the north. They regularly reach British Columbia in mid-summer, and return to Mexico by mid-November.

Young birds, which don't breed until 3 years of age wander the farthest. Thus, most of the birds that reach the shores of the Pacific Northwest are all-dark immatures or grayish second cycle birds. There are few adults.

Off southern California, however, adults are always plentiful. Thus, I get many opportunities to photograph these handsome birds on pelagic trips from San Diego. These photos of adult Heermann's Gulls are from my last trip, on March 8th.

Heermann's Gull

Unlike other gulls, adult Heermann's Gulls have gray bodies with a white head, and a black tail. The bill is dark red and the feet and legs black. Again, different from most other gulls with orange bills and pink or yellow legs.

Heermann's Gull