Before I took up Photography as a hobby in 2010, a seagull was a seagull.
I never knew there 6-7 Gulls in Australia and certainly had never heard of a Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus).
These gulls are large and have a very distinctive large yellow beak with a red tip. When I first saw the juvenile brown gull, I thought it was a different species. The juveniles keep their grey-brown feathers and assume their adult plumage over 3-4 years.
The adults have bright yellow legs while the juveniles have more a dark pinkish grey leg colour. They’re widespread and common, but rarely far from the sea.
I’m glad I managed to capture photos of the Pacific Gull(Larus pacificus)together with the common Silver Gull(Larus novaehollandiae), so you can see the size comparison.
They’re quite common down at Port Melbourne beach at low tide where they search the tide line and seaweed for food, but I’ve also photographed them at St Kilda beach, the closest southern bay side beach to Melbourne City.
Now I live in the western suburbs of Melbourne, I’m not close to the bayside beaches to the south of Melbourne City – only a small western port beach (and that takes some time to get to via 2 buses which run infrequently – miss one bus connection and you have to wait 40 minutes for the next bus).
I’ve spent a lot of time down the beach having fun photographing Silver and Pacific Gulls in the past.
In fact Silver Gulls frequent my current riverside home location too.
I love watching Seagulls in any shape or form.
They’re almost as much fun as watching the House Sparrows and Super Fairy-wrens on my apartment balcony.
While I’ve never visited coastal regions famous for their bird life since I took up Photography as a hobby in 2010, I did occasionally see a couple of Terns, (some of which are known more for their marshland habitat), down at the local beach.
I think this tern is theCrested Tern (Sterna bergii) now that I re-read my Australian Bird Guide book this morning. Originally I thought it was a Whiskered Tern (Chilidonias hybrids).
But if you think I might have identified it incorrectly, please leave me a message in the comments section. I only have these 2 photos.
There are several Terns that look very similar in Australia, but the Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis) which is a better match, (according to the Bird Guide book), with its long slender orange beak and black legs isn’t found this far south.
On the other hand the bird in the image above has a beak that looks more orange and the bird below has a yellow beak. Maybe it’s just the light. Or maybe, they are 2 different terns 🙂
I think the flecked wing pattern below merely indicates it is a juvenile (as is the case in juvenile Silver Gulls).
Bird identification is not as easy as you might think in Australia, what with cross-breeding (or hybrids) a possibility too. It always pays to get photos from as many angles as possible in Bird Photography.
There are 18 Terns described in my Photographic Field Cuide – Birds in Australia by Jim Flegg.
This is an excellent Field Guide by the way and I can highly recommend it.
Around this time of Winter 6 years ago, I was down at the bayside beach suburb of St Kilda, (to the south of Melbourne city), and this day was the first, and only, afternoon in which I’ve ever seen the sea completely calm at low tide. The light was dull, but looking straight into the sun gave the illusion that it was dusk and the sun was setting. Occasionally the sky seemed slightly more mauve than golden.
The images below were made between 2.40pm and 4.20pm – both looking towards the sun……. and away from the sun.
(note: at this time of Winter in Melbourne, the sun goes down fairly early anyway, but 2.40pm………………such a strange and eerie afternoon).