I visited the British Museum of Natural History at Tring
on July 3rd, 2000 (all photos of specimens are reproduced here
with their kind permission), and was able to look at a number
of gulls originally labelled "heuglini", "taimyrensis"
or "affinis" that were collected in India and
the Middle East. Most of the Middle East birds matched normal
heuglini as seen by me in Bahrain, while the birds from
India were slightly paler and lacked the bluish tone to the upperparts
that was evident in the regular heuglinis. Of the c. 6
- 8 adults from various parts of India, all had smallish P10 mirrors
and no P9 mirror. In another drawer there were a few birds from
Oman, Aden and Somalia, of which three birds were adults; I could
immediately see that two of them matched the upperparts color/tone
of the Indian birds but had larger white apical spots and larger
mirrors - i.e. they looked like "Big Pale Heuglini"
(BPH). The third adult looked to be a normal heuglini.
The data for these birds are:
A) collected at Masirah Island, eastern Oman on January 5, 1973,
sexed as female.
B) collected in Aden on February 19, 1945, sexed as male.
C) (normal heuglini-type) collected "Shikr, S. Youm."(?
- either Yemen or Horn of Africa), in March.
I selected an average-sized Larus a. smithsonianus (wing
435mm. with no molt; from about 12 available adults) and photographed
them (from the left: A), smith., B), C)):
Impressions drawn from this comparison are:
- BPH can easily match the general size of smithsonianus.
- the mantle tone of BPH seems to lack the bluish tone of normal
The underside of the primaries for bird A); note the molt score
of 45 for early January, the fairly large P10 mirror with the
black tip c. half the length of the mirror, the small P9 mirror,
and the extensive dark grey tongue on the inner web of P8:
The underside of the primaries for bird B); note the molt score
of 49 for mid-February, the large P10 mirror with the black tip
less than half the length of the mirror, the large P9 mirror,
and the fairly extensive dark grey tongue on the inner web of
This image shows birds B) and C) in profile; note on bird B) the
larger apical spots, and the less-extensive black at the bases
of the primaries - and note that the black merges gradually into
the dark gray, rather than changes abruptly:
For comparison, here is the Corpus bird (by Mel Cooksey):
- followed by some birds from Eastern Oman in late February (by