The Armenian Gull in Armenia

Published on 01 November 1993 in Main articles

nterest in the Armenian Gull Lams [argentatus) armenicus* has increased dramatically since the realisation that this gull showed a characteristic black band on the bill (e.g., Geroudet 1982; Hume 1983; Cramp & Simmons 1983; Dubois 1985; Grant 1988; Satat & Laird 1992). The uniqueness of this character among Palearctic forms of the species/subspecies complex that includes Herring L. argentatus, Yellow-legged L. cachinnans and Lesser Black-backed Gulls L. Juscus (hereafter referred to as ‘the complex’) was one of the reasons that led P. Devillers (Devillers & Potvliege 1981; Devillers 1985) and others (e.g., J. Haffer in Glutz von Blotzheim & Bauer 1982) to consider die Armenian Gull a full species. This approach remains debatable, however, owing to the paucity of morphological descriptions and eco-ethological observations from the breeding grounds. Such data are limited to die initial scientific description of this form from Lake Sevan, Armenia (Buturlin 1934a), and brief accounts of its distribution and breeding ecology, mainly from die same place, summarised in regional avifaunistic reviews (Lyaister & Sosnin 1942; Dahl 1954). More recently, only Airumyan et al. (1974) have referred, briefly, to these gulls at Sevan. On 13th-14th June 1990, I visited a colony of Armenian Gulls at Sevan, a lake situated in a mountain valley at 1,900 m above sea level. Studies of phenotypic and behavioural parameters were carried out from a hide at two points within die colony, and during two walks across the colony to ring 200 young. Observations were facilitated by the fair degree of tolerance

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