Lesser Black-backed Gull in Mehamn, Finmark in early May

HeringsmöweLesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) is said to be on its northern limit in Finmark/ northern Norway. It is described as a scarce and sparse breeding bird in Finmark. First breeding records date back to the 1960s. The bird breeds in small colonies normally in western Finmark and the Porsanger Fjord. The population in Finmark has decreased greatly in recent years. This gull migrates far away by the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and arrives on its breeding grounds at Finmark in mid May. There is probably 1 subspecies involved. It is L. f. fuscus – the Baltic Lesser Black-backed Gull which breeds in northern Norway, Sweden & Finland to the White Sea. An alternative might be L. f. heuglini –Heuglin’s Gull which breeds in northern Russia to north-central Siberia.

During a trip to see the first spring birds in Lapland and Finmark – maybe to see the migration of the Yellow-billed Loon, Gavia adamsii, I discovered an unexpected Gull near the harbor of the little town of Mehamn, too. In the still water of a watercourse coming from the fjell I recognized 7 species of Gulls. The river had not completely thawed, thus there were still some sheets of ice, where the gulls were resting if not bathing in the freezing-cold water. I observed lots of Great Black-backed Gulls (Larus marinus), some Glaucous Gulls (Larus hyperboreus), many Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) and of course the abundant Mew Gulls (Larus canus) and some Black-legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla). Some of the Black-legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) even slept on the ice partly covered with snow. Two more birds draw my attention. The one was a 2nd year Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) right in the middle of a flock of Mew Gulls and the other was a dark-mantled, graceful, mid-sized Gull which is a common sighting in Germany but which I had not seen before in Finmark. It was a Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) A view on the yellow legs confirmed the ID. That was probably a 3rd winter bird. But what about the race? In question is both heuglini and fuscus. Both would be very good.

The sighting was made in the early morning at around 7:00 am. I saw the bird only 30m away in a flock of Mew Gulls. The remarkable issue with the sighting is 1st that I saw the bird at all and so much in the north as the population in Finmark has decreased greatly in recent years and the 2nd remarkable issue is, that the gull could be seen right now as it migrates back to its breeding grounds at Finmark normally only in mid May.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic bird-lens.com is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic. Trips to remote places like this one to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The nice images of the blog is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if bird-lens.com could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

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