Ten Years of Iceland Gulls

Iceland Gull – Larus glaucoides 2019

Every winter since 2010 I have photographed an Iceland Gull – Larus glaucoides in Plymouth, Massachusetts around the boat launch ramp behind East Bay Grill. I do not see the gull every visit. I do have photographs of the Iceland Gull from a first-year juvenile up to the present. Is it the same gull? Possibly since it ends up showing up in the same area. We were down here yesterday, and the gull was not present. Today as we pulled into the parking area, out of the corner of my eye I saw a gull with no black tail feathers. After checking out the harbor, we noticed the gull was still there and drove up slowly to where the gull was feeding on a quahog. Harold was able to photograph the gull without disturbing it, and it gave me a series of lovely images.
The Iceland Gull has been a headache for taxonomists. It is divided into three subspecies, one of which (Thayer’s Gull) was considered a separate species until 2017. To give a sense of how confusing these gulls can be, Thayer’s was at one time thought to belong to a completely different species, the Herring Gull.
The main difference between Iceland, Kumlien’s, and Thayer’s subspecies lies in how dark the wingtips are in adults. Some western birds (Thayer’s) have fully dark wingtips; others in eastern Canada and Greenland (Iceland or “glaucoides” subspecies) can have entirely white wingtips, and there’s lots of variation in between.

Iceland Gull – Larus glaucoides 2010
Iceland Gull – Larus glaucoides 2011
Iceland Gull – Larus glaucoides 2012
Iceland Gull – Larus glaucoides 2013
Iceland Gull – Larus glaucoides 2014
Iceland Gull – Larus glaucoides 2015
Iceland Gull – Larus glaucoides 2016
Iceland Gull – Larus glaucoides 2017
Iceland Gull – Larus glaucoides 2018

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