Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Vorkstaartmeeuw / Sabine's gull

After the last day of picture taking in Cobh I felt the only thing missing was the Sabine’s gull that visits Cobh regularly every winter. It is in fact the first bird I had planned to photograph once I got my 300mm lens and is also near the top of my list of gull species to photograph this winter, right below Glaucous and Little. With all this in mind I decided to return for a quick hour in Cobh.

When I got there, I soon found the gull off the pier in the town, quite willing to do some flybys. Unfortunately the light was less then ideal. In fact glare from the sun and the grey of a cloudy sky had banded together to make it near impossible. With some grey and silhouetted pics under my belt I decided to wander and wait for the light to get better. It didn’t! but no matter, I got some half way decent flight shots of the sabine’s though I think the shoot would have turned out much better with even a slightly faster shutter speed! I may yet return if the bird sticks around after Christmas.

Some background on the species. The sabine’s gull (Xema sabini) is pretty unique in that it has a slightly forked swallow like tail, a trait that it shares with only one other gull species, the Galapagos swallow tailed gull, the worlds only nocturnal gull. Despite the tail similarity it is apparently not closely related at all. The bulk of its population summers in the Artic circle. Like the kittiwake, it reminds me a bit of a tern. It is the only member of its genus Xema and like many gull species develops a black hood during the summer.


  1. Thanks for the piccies Leon, enjoyed them. You look like you're enjoying the new lens :)

  2. There is some nice pics of the Sab.
    well done


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