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Lava Gull - the Rarest Gull

Lava Gull - the Rarest Gull
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 1990-08
Categories: Birds
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Birds of Ecuador [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-06-20 8:21
Viewed: 4676
Points: 48
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
For today’s was taken on my trip to the Galapagos in 1990. I chose this shot, not because it is particlarly good but because of the bird it shows – a Lava Gull – reputedly the rarest gull in the world in numbers (see note below). I have done a search of the TN site and cannot find another posting. As you can see it is not very colourful, however, it is a bird I wanted to see – this one was hanging around on the beach on Santiago – I spotted it, but I recall only one other person photographing it. Even though there are so few of these gulls, I image it they have been sighted more often than the Ivory Gull I posted earlier, which is confined to the very high artic (here I confess, though interested, I am not a birdwatcher).

The Lava Gull (Larus fuliginosus) is a completely dark gull endemic to the Galapagos Islands, the Lava Gull's head and wings are almost black. The rest of the body is dark grey though paler on the belly. They have white upper and lower eyebrows, which vary between individuals, and red eyelids. The legs and bill are black while the inside of the mouth or gape is scarlet. This is quite often seen as they frequently emit long raucous gull-like calls with their bills wide open. The immature bird is largely brown.

The Lava Gull is primarily a scavenger and nest robber. It will also eat lizards and newly hatched iguanas and turtles, and will on occasion catch fish and small crustaceans in shallow lagoons and beaches. A solitary nester on sheltered beaches and lagoons, the two olive, heavily blotched eggs of the Lava Gull blend in with their surroundings and are difficult to pick out. Incubation takes around 30 days and the young fledge at about 60 days. They are then looked after by the adults for a short period.

Being scavengers, immature Lava Gulls are more naturally self-sufficient than some species with more specialized feeding habits. While the total population is thought to be only around 400 pairs, they are not in immediate danger but are obviously vulnerable especially in view of their ground nesting.

This is another scanned slide, taken with a Pentax SFX, 70-210 lense and Agfachrome 100asa.

This will be last posting for a few days as I am visiting Poland for a long weekend.

garyfudge, mario-roberto, SelenE, Adanac, SkyF, Alex99, ridvan, ramthakur, nglen, pablominto, Raptorman, MommaMiaX3, delic, lovenature, dew77, Necipp has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

A very interesting note and shot James.

In fairness the shot is pleasant and the breed easily idenifiable. The shot doesn't have to be awesome everytime. It's about learning and I've learnt somethng new today, so thanks.


very interesting shot

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2007-06-20 8:49]

Hi James,
what an amazing find!!!
A brilliant memory well captured.
Well done,

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2007-06-20 8:51]

Hi James,
This was one of the Galapagos birds that I wanted to photograph a lot, but unfortunately I only saw them on the lava rocks while snorkelling away from the shore, so no photos..
And yes, this is the first posting of this bird to TN. TFS
Have a nice trip to Poland

interesting subject nice focue too bad the face is in shadow

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2007-06-20 10:00]

Hello James,
First safe trip, your capture of this rare bird is very educational in its' content, you captured good plummage detail and I like how his feet sink in the beach sand, thanks James.

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2007-06-20 12:42]

Hi James.
I am impressed with quality of feathers reproduction so much. Amazing details and exposure despite of complex light. I also like excellent composition, low POV and nicely selected DOF. I see your photo experience is great. Bravo and TFS.

  • Great 
  • ridvan Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 498 W: 0 N: 1136] (5205)
  • [2007-06-20 13:35]

selam james; nice shot of this pretty bird,good details presented,nice BG and POV well captured with splendid colours TFS

James, I do not know much about gulls, but this looks like an exotic species to me. I can think of only white about gulls, but this one is black and grey. I am sure this is the first ever posting of this bird on TN. Congratulations!
I loved working with slide medium and still hoard a whole lot of them taken during my trekking trips to the Himalayas with my school kids. This one you have posted today is a sheer beauty and very well scanned.
So you are off to Poland this time.
Have a nice trip.

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2007-06-20 15:01]

Hi James. a very interesting bird to see . thanks for showing use on tn.as you say only 400 pairs left.good detail in the feathers. well done TFS. have a good week end in Poland.

  • Great 
  • demeve Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 586 W: 12 N: 1682] (6165)
  • [2007-06-20 15:58]

Hello James, great picture! Wonderful shot of this rare beauty, you had a perfect POV.. Congratulations!

Hello James!

Wow, an amazing capture of such a rare bird. Love the feather detail and seeing his legs sink in the shell. Always, inspiring and wonderful to get lost in your photos!

Kids have been keeping me busy, so again I live through you.

Thanks James, you're wonderful!


  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-06-20 21:00]

Hello James

A very good documentation of this Lava Gull.The details are very good ,showing plumage and textures well.Nicely composed in the frame.Thankfully you are able to post one on TN for the community to enjoy and learn about.TFS


Hello James,
An attractive composition with good details in the bird!
Amazing colour of this one, very well reproduced and so are the details in the plumage!
Pablo -

Hello James , thanks for to show us this very rare gull species , good photo.

  • Great 
  • SkyF Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2234 W: 188 N: 1912] (8073)
  • [2007-06-21 7:38]

Hi James,
a lot of times we forget the less brilliant things in this world only to find out later what we missed. I am glad you captured this bird as plain as it is its rarity makes it very special.
Excellent quality considering this is a scan from an older slide. TFS such a rare bird and going through the trouble scanning.

Hi James,
A rare treat for the TN community, simple as it looks it still is a wealthy contribution and is much appreciated. TFS. :)

Hi James
I feel honored to be able to see such a rare Lava Gull. This is why I love TN so much, seeing places, animals and plants that I have never seen and probably wouldn't if it weren't for TN. Great notes too.
TFS Janice

  • Great 
  • delic Gold Star Critiquer [C: 440 W: 6 N: 310] (898)
  • [2007-06-23 17:35]

Fine documentation for TN. Interesting contrast of colors on the gull's body and face. I like the soft sidelight that brings out feather detail. Excellent read, full of information as usual. Regards,

  • Great 
  • Bufo Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 404 W: 69 N: 951] (4247)
  • [2007-06-26 3:33]

Hi James,
appealing species. I mean, who has not read the books of Darwin and as a runner up the nature of the Galapagos. As a young child I found this dark tainted gull a wonderfull sight. A bit of a pity that the eye lacks the blink (I always feel this makes a bird more 'alive').
But compliments on the documentation of this rare gull.
Regards, Jacob

  • Great 
  • dew77 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4432 W: 248 N: 4028] (13270)
  • [2007-06-26 11:50]

Hello James,
Very nice capture of this interesting gull.Nicely exposed and composed.

Hello James this is superb so sharp excellent POV nice dof and interesting contrasty light tfs rgds Necip.

Hello James,
I love your posts as they always show us such interesting and rare subjects or places. Your notes are so well documented and I like it :) This is a nice capture of this bird and I agree that it is not the most colorful one but it is a very interesting specie. Thanks again for sharing such a different picture.

Hi James
Cannot get enough of the Galapagos, the islands are achingly beautiful, and the fauna breath taking!



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