Pontic Gull - Larus cachinnans

As early as 1988 in the eastern part of the Netherlands, odd-looking yellow-legged gulls appeared. Although sometimes identified as Armenian Gulls, they never got proper attention. Only in 1997 one op these birds in 1988 at Zutphen (Gelderland) was identified as an adult Pontic Gull Larus cachinnans. Known already in less well-known literature, it was only in January 1997 with the appearance of an article in British Birds, birders in the Netherlands started to look for yellow-legged gulls in the eastern part of the country, especially at De Rutbeek, a lake south of Enschede, Overijssel. In November and December of 1997 several were also present at De Vink, a lake near Arcen (Limburg), giving good opportunities to study them. On Saturday 29 November at De Rutbeek, I saw at least one first-winter (typically with a long slender black bill, whitish flat head and some grey feathering on the mantle) and most probably another fourth-winter there.

29 November 1997, Het Rutbeek, Enschede Ovl; © Sander Lagerveld.
Note the long slender bill and whiter head; grey scapulars and mantle feathers hardly visible, bu seen in the field.

This taxon is now considered a full species. A good article for identification is by Garner & Quinn in British Birds (BB 90: 25-62, 1997). The first accepted record in the Netherlands was at the rubbish dump of Zutphen (Gelderland) from 4 October - 6 November 1988. The second was on 11 December 1991, a first-winter also at a rubbish dump at Geldermalsen (Gelderland) bearing a ring from the Ukraine (cf Dutch Birding 18: 302-304, 1996).

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