Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Three Gulls

... and Five Photos

I recently mentioned how much easier it is to separate the various corvids found in the British Isles compared to our Australian corvids. The situation is quite the opposite with our Gulls. In Tasmania we have just three species of Gull (Genus: Larus).

The largest is the Pacific Gull - L. pacificus. This gull is endemic to Australia and is found along the coast in the southern parts of the mainland and around Tasmania.

The other large gull is the Kelp Gull - L. dominicanus. This gull has a much wider distribution being found in the south of South America, New Zealand, South Africa and subantarctic islands. You would expect therefore that it has always been in Tasmania but in fact, it was first recorded here in the 1950's at Ralph's Bay near Hobart. In the south of Tasmania it is now more numerous the the Pacific Gull. They can be seen in the north-west too although I personally have never yet even seen one here.

The Kelp Gull and Pacific Gull are superficially similar. However there are some obvious differences. For example the Pacific gull has a black band across the otherwise white tail and it's bill is rather large and thickset.

The third and most common is the Silver Gull - L. novaehollandiae. I doubt there are many Australian who are not familiar with this one. They are found right around Australia's coast as well as inland areas.

The Kelp Gull in the photo below was at Seven Mile Beach near Hobart. All the others were at Big Possum Beach at Port Arthur.

Oh ...and by the way, if you say gullible over and over as fast as you can it will sound like you are saying "Gulls have Bills". Go on ...Try it.

(Click to see larger versions)
Pacific Gull - Larus pacificus (Note the Heavy bill)

Pacific Gull - Larus pacificus (Note the black tail band)

Kelp Gull - Larus dominicanus (Note the white tail and slimmer bill)

Silver Gull - Larus novaehollandiae.

Silver Gull - Larus novaehollandiae. (Juvenile)


  1. Hi Mosura
    Nice posting. I remember there being much excitement in bird watching circles in Victoria when the first Dominican Gulls turned up. Not sure they were the first, but prior to that they were extremely rare anyway. Another example of an avian population explosion - cf Corellas, Rainbow Lorikeets and my favourite example, the Cattle Egret.
    Great photos of the Pacific Gull beak! Scary bird, that one!

  2. The last one's my favourite, a beauty.

  3. Nice to see photos of the 3 species gulls. We only get Silver Gulls up here and I miss seeing the Pacific Gull.

  4. Hello Mosura

    Lovely shots of the gulls, so crisp! The Pacific gull has got a gorgeous beak hasn't it - a bit like our herring gull.

    Best wishes, Adrian