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This morning at 9:30 Mark Hedden and Gerard Phillips discovered a possible
SLATY-BACKED GULL at Higgs Beach in Key West.

Neither of us have seen this species before but we are confident that it is
NOT a Lesser blacked-backed Gull or an unusually dark-mantled Herring Gull
etc etc.

Basically, the bird is a very good candidate for SBGU, the big question is
whether it might be  a possible Slaty X Herring hybrid?

I am not certain what plumage the bird is in. It is mostly an adult (i.e.,
the mantle and wings are a dark ‘slaty-grey’). However the bill has a broad
blackish sub-terminal band  cross both mandibles. The tip is yellow while the
base is pinkish. So my guess it that it is either a 3rd or 4th year bird? The
legs are dark reddish (perhaps not as bright as one would hope) with almost a
purplish tinge visible at certain times.

I was able to take many digital images of the bird, including flight shots.
I’ haven’t seen the images on a computer monitor yet (no USB cable here) but
on the camera’s LCD screen the primary pattern certainly looks very
promising!

The tertiials appear to be new and show a very broad white edge while the
bird is landed. The secondaires are very worn so there isn’t a broad trailing
edge visible. There is active primary molt, with some outer primaries still
growing in. Still, as i said earlier the pattern above and below looks good.

Birders should definitly come and check this bird out!!!

We saw the bird mostly on the southernish edge of Higg’s Beach, nearest to
Reynolds Street and the Casa Marina. Look for the wooden pier.

Any questions please contat Gerard Phillips at [log in to unmask]
or Mark Hedden (KW resident) at [log in to unmask]

Mark Hedden/Gerard Phillips
Key West

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