Third-year Southern Atlantic Yellow-legged Gulls -- Southern atlantis

In late September the timing of the moult is similar to that in adults with P9 and P10 growing. However, the heads are rather duskier than in adults with a distinct triangle extending back from the eye across the lores. The crown, chin and forehead are all relatively pale but are still finely speckled so that the overall effect is rather dusky. The bill can look quite dusky with a large dark indistinct gonydeal spot and other scattered dark speckles. The legs are usually a pale ochre but some show a pinky tinge, particularly on the feet.

The wing tip is adult-like in the extent of black but the white is less developed with usually only a small mirror on P10 and none on P9. The mantle is basically blue-grey but the sheen is less bright than in adults with a number of small grey-brown markings. The tail is white. In flight the upperside of the wings show mottling on the carpal, sometimes extending into a broad bar from the greater coverts to the carpal, and traces of a secondary bar. The underside shows remnant dark edges on the tips of the underwing coverts. At rest the remnant secondary bar is usually visible to some extent.

In April some still show dusky marks on the head and dull bare parts.

By May the head is white, the mantle is a cleaner blue-grey and the bill and legs are almost adult-like being bright yellow and a bright ochre respectively. The gonydeal spot on the bill is large and bright red. The wings and tail are as in September.

Third-years of other forms

The identification of third-years is likely to remain problematical with size, structure and mantle shade perhaps being the best indicators.

© Copyright Nick Rossiter 2001-2002.

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