Surprised by a gull

In temperate parts of the world, gulls are typically the most predictable and least interesting birds around the shoreline. In sub-tropical Hong Kong, though, a gull always comes as a bit of a surprise. Along the sea wall at Tolo Harbour today, the usual egrets (little and great) were resting on an artificial island. Among them, a dark brown shape was evidently that of an immature gull. Its dark plumage, black tail and black-tipped pink bill pointed to a juvenile Black-tailed Gull, a common gull in Japan and Eastern China which sometimes winters as far south as Hong Kong.

Consulting Viney & Phillipps' classic guide to Hong Kong Birds (I still use the 1983 edition!) revealed two interesting facts: most black-tailed gulls seen in HK are immatures, and the species 'particularly favours Tolo Harbour' (whereas other gulls are mostly seen in Deep Bay). So this bird was at least in the right place, though not exactly at the right time: according to E-bird records, immatures are not expected until late August or September, while the earliest record in the Avifauna of Hong Kong (published in 2000) was August 30th. This observation was after a few days of stormy weather which may have driven the bird inland.

Posted by stephenmatthews stephenmatthews, August 13, 2020 12:49 PM

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Black-tailed Gull (Larus crassirostris)

Observer

stephenmatthews

Date

August 13, 2020 10:46 AM HKT

Place

Hong Kong (Google, OSM)

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