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Gull, Sabine's

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
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Johan van Rensburg
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Gull, Sabine's

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:46 am

I had an idea of getting onto a pelagic trip to coincide with the twitch for the Temminck’s stint at the Strandfontein Sewage Works outside Cape Town – kind of getting two birds with the same stone… :wink:

It took some work to find an open spot on a pelagic trip at such short notice, but I eventually secured a berth on a simple sport fishing vessel, Pisces 2.

I have seen the small, boldly patterned Sabine’s gull, Larus sabini, on a previous CT pelagic, but the photo opportunity was missed. This time round the gull performed some decent fly-byes and I got a good few shots in…


The Sabine’s gull's generic placement is disputed with some treating it as comprising a monotypic genus; others place within the genus Larus. This gull breeds in marshy tundra near the coast from sub-arctic areas to the high Arctic. Out of the breeding season it is a true seafarer, nowhere more at home than over the crest of an ocean wave. From August, having finished breeding, Sabine’s Gulls make their way southwards towards the equator and beyond, down along the western coast of Africa and past the Cape of Good Hope where they will spend the winter searching cold water upwellings that convey their food of invertebrates and small fish from the depths of the ocean. The species has two separate populations, a fact illustrated by their different migration strategies: birds breeding in Siberia and Alaska winter off the Pacific coast of South America, while Canadian and Greenland breeders do so in the South Atlantic Ocean, off the coasts of southern Africa.
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