Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Iceland Gull
First winter Iceland Gull
Photograph ©Terry Fountain
Gramsdail - North Ford - Benbecula - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
11th January, 2008
Our Iceland Gull Photographs
- Iceland Gull
- Larus glaucoides
- Gaelic: Faoileag-liath
- UK: Uncommon winter and passage visitor , scarce in summer
- UK: 70 - 80 birds (usually singular) winter in UK RSPB
- UK: Uncommon winter and passage visitor (recorded in low numbers each year), scarce in summer (very small numbers recorded in most years)
- Breeds: Arctic Canada, Greenland (not Iceland)
- Winters: North Atlantic, South to North Europe - UK, East coast USA
- Habitat: Seacoasts, lakes
- Diet: Omnivores: Mostly fish, some carrion, eggs & young of other birds
- Usually smaller than herring gull. All plumages very pale, no black in wings or tail. Immatures pale-creamy brown with fine barring. Rounded head, large dark eyes. Flight: "short-necked", very pale wings - white tips
- Similar birds: Glaucous gull (they're usually larger & more frequent)
Iceland Gulls are omnivores like most of the Larus gulls. They forage on land and sea. They eat molluscs, fish, scraps, offal, eggs. They also scavenge roadkill, or at rubbish dumps, sewage outlets or places where there is fish waste.
The most similar bird to the Iceland Gull is the Glaucous gull. The bills of 1st winter Iceland gulls are almost all dark, whereas those of the Glaucous gulls just have a black tip. As the winter progresses toward spring the paler, pinkish base of the bill becomes more obvious. The bill of the Glaucous Gull in the picture on the right looks much larger, longer and heavier and blunter than the Iceland's.
The Iceland gull has a rounded head with a soft and kind expression, Glaucous gulls look fierce.
Terry Fountain mentioned that the wings of an Iceland Gull project more beyond the tail, also at rest.
The Iceland gull is slightly smaller than a Herring Gull, the Glaucous gull is slightly smaller than a Great Black-backed Gull.
The BTO migration Atlas estimates 100 - 200 birds wintering in the UK.
Iceland Gull records in the Western Isles
Uncommon winter and passage visitor (recorded in low numbers each year), scarce in summer (very small numbers recorded in most years)
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)
In the Western Isles we usually get about twenty Iceland Gull records in winter, and just one or two in summer.
On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Iceland Gull is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.
(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
Other local bird photographs
Sources of information for the bird sightings section