I captured this herring gull last month at Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge. I had a good combination of nice late-morning lighting, glassy water (creating a mirror-like reflection), and a neat, clean gull.
Gull identification can be quite challenging (gulls and sandpipers give me endless ID trouble!) Certain characteristics to pay attention to include wing tip pattern, eye color, bill markings, and leg color. What really makes gull identification difficult is that fact that you can line up five gulls of the same species, and they can look completely different from one another. Juveniles can have different eye and leg color as their adult counterparts, as well as vastly different feather patterns and coloring. Additionally, breeding season can also change a gull’s appearance. While these same issues exist for many other birds as well, I find them particularly challenging with gulls, as so many gulls look similar.