1493. Larus gelastes.
The Slender-billed Gull.
Larus gelastes, Licht,, Thienem. Fortpflanz. Vog. Fur. pt. v, p. 22 (1838); Blanf. Eastern Persia, ii, p. 291 ; Hume, Cat. no. 981 quat.; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 426 ; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 294 ; Saunders, Cat: B. M. xxv, p. 230. Xema lambruschini, Bonap. Icon. Faun. Ital, Ucc. pp. 135, 136*, pl. 45 (1840). Larus lambruschini, Hume, S. F. i, p. 274; Butler, S. F. v, p. 286.
Coloration. Head, neck, under surface, upper tail-coverts, and tail white; all, except the head, suffused with a roseate tinge that, disappears generally in dried skins ; mantle pearl-grey, coverts and quills a little darker; outer primary-coverts and greater part of first four primaries white ; on 1st primary the outer web, tip and edge of inner web, on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th the tip, a broad inner border and a small portion, varying in amount, of the outer border are black ; the 4th is grey on the inner web near the shaft, the 5th and 6th on both webs, they also having black ends ; 7th and later primaries grey like secondaries.
There is apparently no change in winter. Young birds have some brown on the mantle, retained longest on the wing-coverts and tertiaries ; the black portions of the primaries occupy more of the feathers than in adults, and there is a dark brown terminal band to the tail.
Bill deep red; eyelids bright red, irides pale yellow; legs and feet deep red (Hume). Immature birds have bill, legs, and feet pale orange.
Length of males 18 ; tail 4.6 ; wing 12 ; tarsus 2 ; bill from gape 2.5. Females are rather smaller, wing 11.
Distribution. Mediterranean, Black Sea, Caspian, Bed Sea, and Persian Gulf; west coast of Africa as far south as Senegambia, and in winter the coasts of Baluchistan and Sind, where this Gull is very common at that season.
Habits, &c. A sea-bird, not usually found on fresh waters. At Karachi and along the Makran coast, in winter, it occurs in vast flocks, that generally rest on shore in the middle of the day, but Butler found that it had almost disappeared in May. He, however, found this species breeding in a salt swamp near Hormara, on the Makran coast, and he obtained eggs at the end of July. They were laid, usually three in each nest, on pads of seaweed, were as a rule dull whitish, with numerous spots and blotches of dark brown and greyish lilac, and measured about 2.18 by 1.52.