13
Sep
13

A Gull by any other Name (7 pics)

A Gull by any other Name
Lots of gulls.

The Dearest and I both love the coast. Our short (and completely unplanned) trip to the Netherlands last weekend, another trip to the German Northsea coast in a week and our planned vacation at the Baltic Sea in November are the reasons I started reading up on sea- and shorebirds. And there is one thing that has been constantly frustrating me – the names of gulls.

A Gull by any other Name
Even more gulls.

My life was way easier before I started birding, because then a gull was just a gull. If I were to learn about them only in my native language, it wouldn’t be such a problem. But I’m blogging in English, so I’m learning bird names in two languages. And with gulls that’s a major problem.

A Gull by any other Name
Grumpy teens.

Take for example the European Herring Gull (Larus argentatus). It’s name translates to “Heringsmöwe”, but is in fact the German “Silbermöwe”. The German “Heringsmöwe” would be the English Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus).

A Gull by any other Name
He’s plotting. I’m sure.

Want another example? The Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) – in German it’s called “Lachmöwe” which translates to “Laughing Gull”. But a Laughing Gull in English is a different bird (Larus atricilla or “Aztekenmöwe” in German). Unfortunately the name Black-headed Gull translates beautifully into the German “Schwarzkopfmöwe” which in English would be the Mediteranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus). But there’s a “Mittelmeermöwe” (German for Mediterranean Gull) as well – in English it’s known as the Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis).

A Gull by any other Name
He’s not laughing. Neither am I.

See my problem?

A Gull by any other Name
I’ll get it – one day.

Throw in the complication of adolescent plumage and gulls give me a severe headache. And just my luck – they’re my favourite birds to watch and photograph on seaside vacations…

A Gull by any other Name
Bon appétit.

September 2013, Gulls / Möwen, Westkapelle


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