Tim writes: Sabine’s Gulls are fairly a tough gull to see. They breed within the excessive arctic however migrate south after breeding to spend the winter at sea off the continental cabinets within the southern hemisphere. Within the Atlantic they primarily winter off southern Africa and South America. They’re solely sometimes seen from land, normally when storms have blown them inshore. They’re hardly ever seen in Britain in spring, however a couple of hundred are recorded yearly in autumn, normally August to November. I photographed this juvenile which has spent a number of days within the Mersey Estuary in mid-September. The bushes within the background aren’t one thing normally seen in Sabine’s Gull pictures.
The three triangle sample on its wings is extremely distinctive. Additionally they have a forked tail seen right here which is accentuated by the juvenile black tail band. It’s presently positioned in a genus (Xema) all by itself. However quite unexpectedly molecular knowledge suggests its closest relative is the Ivory Gull, which additionally breeds within the excessive Arctic however appears nothing like this. The identify commemorates Edward Sabine who found the gull in 1818 whereas attempting to find the North West Passage (a route excessive of Canada that reaches the Pacific). He despatched the specimen to his brother Joseph who named it in honour of his brother. You can’t identify a species after your self however naming it after your brother kind of circumvents this rule. Joseph referred to as it Larus sabinii however a 12 months later William Leach (of Leach’s Petrel fame) named it Xema sabinii. Xema is only a made up phrase by a museum taxonomist who was having problem discovering a reputation that had not been used earlier than.