Sabine's Gull Xema sabini (Larus sabini)

A scarce autumn migrant in the UK with a handful of records each year in Norfolk. The vast majority of records are juveniles blown close offshore during strong winds. Although not a difficult bird to identify once you are experienced with them, many birders are unaware of how similar the wing-pattern of Kittiwake can appear under certain lighting conditions. The majority of claims of Sabine's Gull in Norfolk relate to misidentified Kittiwakes, while others are misidentified Little Gulls and even Sandwich Terns, however the genuine article does appear from time to time.

The first bird below was extremely atypical - firstly it was in early June and secondly it was lingering on the beach. Although appearing much like an adult the very worn plumage was apparently indicative of it being in its second summer. The second bird was a more typical record but was far too distant for a decent photo.

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second-summer Sabine's Gull, Lowestoft (Suffolk, UK), 1st June 2003 - scans of prints


juvenile Sabine's Gull, Pendeen (Cornwall, UK), 6th October 2011