Tuesday 7 May 2013


An individual in first winter plumage Herring Gull (Larus argentatuswas seen on 10th April 2013 at Guareña (Badajoz) by Marc Gálvez. On subsequent visits there it was not re-located. This is the first confirmed record of this species in Extremadura, based on current taxonomy, given that it one reads the literature of more than twenty years ago, it was described as a very common species in Spain. The reason for this drastic change in status is due to the splitting into various species the Herring Gull complex. The first split was cachinnans (the Yellow-legged Gull) from argentatus (the name retained by Herring Gull), the latter breeding in central and northern Europe. A later split was to establish michahellis (the current Yellow-legged Gull) which breeds in south-west Europe) from cachinnans (Caspian Gull, from south-east Europe).

The situation in Spain and Extremadura of these three species is the following:
  • Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis). Abundant resident throughout the Iberian coast, Balearics and Canaries. In Extremadura it is a scarce species with a few pairs breeding irregularly at Valdecañas reservoir (Cáceres) since at least 2002. During the rest of the year, individuals are found across the territory, with records in every month, being rather more frequent in spring (April) and autumn (October).
  • Herring Gull (Larus argentatus). Basically a scarce winter visitor on the coast (several hundred), especially on the north of the peninsula. There are inland records at sites where gulls are studied (e.g. rubbish dumps in Madrid and La Mancha), so its presence, now confirmed, has been suspected in Extremadura. In general, these records are of immature birds passing unnoticed amongst other more common species.
  • Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans). A rarity in Spain. Owing to identification difficulties, until 2011 there were no accepted records and thus its season pattern or distribution have not been analysed. In principle, it would appear more often in winter and on the coast, although there are some inland records, but none in Extremadura, although one will probably turn up.
El presente registro de gaviota argéntea ha sido antes publicado por Marc Gálvez y José Guerra en su blog personal “Pajareando en Badajoz”. En esta primavera húmeda y fría se han detectado en arrozales de las vegas del Guadiana concentraciones de gaviotas atípicas para las fechas. Ya se comentó la segunda cita extremeña de gaviota de Delaware (Larus delawarensis) y durante la observación de la gaviota argéntea se vieron también gaviotas sombrías (Larus fuscus), reidoras (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), canas (L. canus -foto 1-), patiamarillas (L. michahellis –foto 2, junto a sombrías y reidoras-) y cabecinegras (L. melanocephalus –foto 3-). Todas las fotografías por Marc Gálvez.

This record of Herring Gull has been published earlier by Marc Gálvez and José Guerra in their personal blog “Pajareando en Badajoz”. In the wet and cold spring of 2013, concentrations of gulls atypical for the season were found in the rice fields of the Guadiana. We have previously cited the second record for Extremadura of Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) and during the observation of the Herring Gull there were also present Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus fuscus), Black-headed (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), Common (L. canus – photo 1), Yellow-legged (L. michahellis – photo 2, next to Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed) and Mediterranean (L. melanocephalus – photo 3). All the photos are by Marc Gálvez.

Translated by Martin Kelsey.