80 NORTHERN GULLS IN ARUBA [Ardea64 NORTHERN GULLS IN ARUBA, NETHERLANDS ANTILLES K.H. VOOUS Biological Laboratory, Free University, Amsterdam Zoological Museum, University of Amsterdam Through the kindness of several correspondents in Aruba, notably E. Jansen and C. J. Hey, I have been able to collect new data on the occurrence of four species of gull, three of wich have not previously been recorded in the Antillean islands of Aruba, Cura<;ao and Bonaire (Voous 1965). The data have been substantiated by sending of colour-slides or colour-prints. To all correspondents in Aruba I tender my sincerest thanks. Larus marinus (1) - 24 Nov. 1971, first recorded by W. H. & Andrew D. Heineman (New York) on the Aruba Hotel Beach, sitting on a boat amidst a group of Laughing Gulls L. atricilla. The bird stayed until Feb. 1972 (Jansen). It was apparently in nearly if not complete adult plumage, Larus marinus (2) - 1 Oct. 1972 - 28 Jan. 1973, Hadicourari, among other gulls (Jansen). Thought by Jansen to be different from the bird of previous year, but colour-slide gives same impression and the bird (now in adult plumage) was sitting on exactly the same spot. Larusfuscus (1) - 25 Aug. 1973, Manchebo Beach. Adult bird among flock of Laughing Gulls (Hey). Larus fuscus (2) - 29 Sept. 1973, at water purification plant (Hey). Legs light, yellowish. Not seen next day or afterwards. Larus fuscus (3) - 13 March - 15 Aug. 1975, at water purification plant. Adult bird, also seen 16 May and 11 June (Hey). Legs yellowish. Colour- picture made 13 March by A. C. M. de Groot does not make it sure whether the bird is L. marinus or L. fuscus, but it resembles L. fuscus by shape (long wings), leg colour (pale yellow), and size (similar or slightly smaller thanL. argentatus on the same picture). Larusfuscus (4) - 5 Dec. 1975, beach beyond Divi-Divi Hotel.One bird at the rear of a flock of Royal and Common Terns and Laughing Gulls (Dr. Joan Criswell and Sarah S. Baker, Washington, D.C.). According to the description given, most likely a bird in adult winter plumage. Larus argentatus (1) - 7 Nov. 1972, Hadicourari, juvenile bird in the dark first year plumage of the race smithsonianus, alongside adult L. marinu.s (Jansen). Larus argentatus (2) - 13 March 1975, at water purification plant. Adult bird sitting among Laughing Gulls and one probable L. fuscus (3) (Hey). Colour-picture by A. C. M. de Groot shows mantle colour only slightly lighter than Laughing Gulls. Larus de/awarensis (1) - 20 Jan. 1972, Hadicourari, one bird in immature plumage, photographed when sitting amongLaughing Gulls (Jansen). 1977] NORTHERN GULLS IN ARUBA 81 The occurrence of these gulls conforms with the present trend of increased observations of northern gulls in the West Indies, where of all gulls the Laughing Gull is the only regularly occurring and well known species, both wintering and nesting. It is not known whether the increased number of records reflects a trend of increasing numbers of North American gulls (as sometimes suggested) or the increased number of competent observers. Still, the occurrence of solitary gulls well beyond the limits of their normal winter quarters,which generally do not extend to the tropics, staying for months in succession on the same beach of Aruba, is remarkable. After all, the leeward coast of Aruba, where all observations were made, with its clear and shallow waters and sandy beaches seems to be the only place in the South Caribbean Netherlands Antilles, if not in all South Caribbean islands, which is regularly frequented by flocks of wintering gUlls, usually Laughing Gulls without exception (Voous 1975: 135-137). Probably the situation of Aruba, on the continental shelf, easily reached from the Caribbean coast lines of Central America and Colombia, and the abundance ofsmall fish make the southwest coast of Aruba most favourable for exceptional coastal bird species turning up and staying for some time. Incidentally, the appearance of the Great Black-backed Gull L. marinus by about 24 Nov. 1971 is likely to have been influenced by the passing of the Tropical Storm Laura (developed in the southwest Caribbean on 12 Nov.; Nat. Summary Climatological Data, U.S. Weather Bureau, November 1971: 19-20), which may have swung an already exceptionally southward drifted gull from the Gulf coast or northern Cuba all along the Middle American coast down to tropical South America. Even more remarkable is the repeated occurrence of Lesser Black-backed Gulls L. Juscus in Aruba, as, in contrast to the other gulls, these are Old World breeding birds. Also unlike the other gulls they are long-distance migrants, most of them wintering in subtropical and tropical Africa. Whether the birds appearing in Aruba have been drifted across the tropical Atlantic Ocean, or whether they had previously straggled to the North American east coast coming from or passing Iceland, where this species has recently settled, and then followed their southerly migration route, will always remain obscure. But its increasing, occurrence within the limits of the West Indies, where it was unknown before being observed and collected at St. Martin, northern Lesser Antilles, 8 Nov. 1965 - 13 Jan. 1966 (Voous & Koelers 1967: 127-128), makes one wonder if perhaps this species is building up an as yet unknown breeding nucleus in eastern North America where it is recently more frequently seen than at any time after it had been reported there for the first time by about the middle of this century. Whereas the specimen from St. Martin clearly belonged to the light-mantled Atlantic race graellsii, at least one bird from Aruba appeared on the colour-print too dark for that race; however, any attempt to subspecific identification must be considered hazardous. 82 NORTHERN GULLS IN ARUBA [Ardea64 It should be stressed that of the four species of northern gull mentioned above only the Herring Gull L. argentatus (once in Trinidad, and seen between 31 Oct. 1959 and IO Jan. 1960, Aruba; Voous 1965: 221) and the Ring-billed Gull L. delawarensis (once seen in Trinidad) have ever been recorded from within the limits of South America (ffrench 1974, de Schauensee .1966). SAMENVATTING Het voorkomen van noordelijke meeuwen op Aruba, Nederlandse Alltillen. Recente waarnemingen van noordelijke meeuwen als nieuwe dwaalgasten op Aruba worden besproken. Zij hebben betrekking op de Grote Mantelmeeuw (2 x), Kleine Mantelmeeuw (4 x), Zilvermeeuw (2 x) en Ringsnavelmeeuw (I x). De verschuning van de Grote Mantelmeeuw op 24 nov. 1971, die tot in feb. 1972 op Aruba bleef hangen, wordt in verband gebracht met een mogelijke verplaatsing van deze vogel door de tropische storm Laura (14-21 nov. 1971). Van de genoemde meeuwen werden aileen de Zilvermeeuw (Aruba, I x) en de Ringsnavelmeeuw (Trinidad, I x) op een van de Zuid-Caraibische eilanden vastgesteld. Van hen zijn a\leen de Kleine Mantelmeeuwen lange-afstandstrekkers. Zij zijn ook de enige die niet in de Nieuwe Wereld, maar langs de West-Europese kust broeden. Hoe zij op Aruba terecht kunnen zijn gekomen is onbekend, maar de theorie wordt geopperd van een mogelijk verband met een recente uitbreiding van het broedgebied in de noordelijke Atlantische· Oceaan· en daarmee samenhangende veranderingen van de trekroute van sOmmige van deze vogels. REFERENCES ffrench, R. 1974. A guide to the birds of Trinidad and Tobago. Narberth, Penn. (Livingstone). Schauensee,. R. Meyer de, 1966. The species of birds of South America. Narberth, Penn. (Livingstone). Voous, K. H., 1957. The birds of Aruba, Cural;ao, and Bonaire. Stud. Fauna Cural;ao andother Caribb. Islands 7 (29): 1-260. ---,1965. Check-list of the birds of Aruba, Cural;ao, and Bonaire. Ardea 53: 205-234. - - - & H. J. Koelers, 1967. Check-list of the birds of St. Martin, Saba, and St. Eustatius. Ar- dea 55: 115-137.
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