Odd looking Laughing Gull - D200, HH, laying in the sand, F5.6, 1/250, ISO 400, 80-400mm VR at 360 mm, fill flash used, red-eye strobe return.
On several occassions I have seen and photographed Laughing Gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla) that have strange colored markings on their bills and legs. I have assumed that they are partially leucistic though I could be wrong. I just call them “Pinto Bean” gulls for lack of a better term.
The Laughing Gull image above was created on October 5, 2008. The light was horrible, it was spritzing rain and the seabreeze was causing choppy waves. The local weatherman had predicted better weather but I had my flash unit with me along with my BetterBeamer so I attempted to obtain photos of this unusual looking gull. I rarely use flash, probably less than 1% of the time, but in this case I would have had really cruddy looking images without it.
This gull didn’t seem to be accepted well by the other Laughing Gulls present, it appeared to stay by itself but close to the flock.
Another partially leucistic Laughing Gull? - D200, HH, laying in the sand, 1/400, ISO 125, 80-400mm VR at 310mm, natural late afternoon light
The photograph above was taken on December 18, 2008 in the same general area of Florida as the first image I posted of a “Pinto Bean” gull. I do not believe it is the same bird as the patterns of color on the legs and bill are different.
Again; in my observation of this particular Laughing Gull I noticed that the other Laughing Gulls seemed to keep their distance from it though it also appeared that this gull wanted to be close to the flock resting on the spit of sand between the Gulf of Mexico and a tidal lagoon.
I have seen other Laughing Gulls in that location that had this pinto bean coloration on their legs and bills, these were my best images of them. I know that in some species they tend to ignore or chase off their leucistic kin and I have wondered if this was also the case with these two “Pinto Bean” gulls. Both gulls are in non-breeding plumage and I do not know what they might look like during mating season.