|Gull identification is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some birders, however, have made it their expertise. Leon Edelaar is one of them. I don’t
think you can see him happier than on a beach with large numbers of
gulls to look through. And if you ask me, that is totally
understandable. There is so much joy in picking out scarce or rare
species on subtle characters. Besides, gulls are beautiful!
Leon made no secret of what his mission was: to find the first American Herring Gull Larus smithsonianus
for the Netherlands. In all plumages this taxon looks very much like
European Herring Gull, so identification requires close scrutiny. But
for a man on a mission, that is no obstacle.
On the evening of Saturday 11 April 2015, Leon was checking gulls that
had gathered en masse at Egmond aan Zee, where beach
nourishment activities were taking place. Here he made a discovery of a
when he found a gull showing all features of a first-year
Thayer’s Gull L thayeri. This North American taxon had never been recorded
in the Netherlands before and is considered a ‘mega’
anywhere in Europe.
The bird stayed in the area until at least 27 April and was seen by
many birders. Key features included the still largely juvenile plumage,
the rather uniform brownish underparts, the almost unmarked
greyish-brown tail and the dark outer webs and tips with narrow pale
fringes of the six outer primaries (Edelaar & Ebels 2016). The
photos depicted below were taken at Bergen aan Zee on