Great Black-backed Gull,1st winter: Hole Haven Creek, Essex - 22nd January 2008
Classic individual now showing a largely pale horn coloured bill with broad band.
Great Black-backed Gull, 1st-winter: Private Site, Essex - 31st January 2009
Note the overall cold/frosty aspect. The bill is typically huge and blunt ended. The tertials have bold white tips and fringes and the wing coverts are most whitish with well spaced barring. The scapulars are a mix of retained juvenile and new second generation feathers. The legs are relatively long and pink.

The tail can be seen with a prominent black band. The under-tail coverts are largely unmarked with pale brownish chevrons on the vent area.
Great Black-backed Gull, 1st-winter: Private Site, Essex - 31st January 2009
A darker bird than the previous individual. Note the bold barring on the inner greater coverts. The tertials show a prominent oak leaf pattern. The tail band is broken with the outer retrices being white with dark notches.

The scapulars are pale with obvious brown bars. The head is paler contrasting with the darker upper-parts. The bill is massive and blunt tipped with the bases becoming paler. The wings are short and the legs longish.
Great Black-backed Gull, 1st-winter: Hole Haven Creek, Essex - January 2006
The scapulars on this bird are all new second generation, non juvenile. They are greyish-buff with the rear most feathers showing a prominent anchor marking whilst the lower and upper most this is more of a diamond shape.

All the typical Great Black-backed features are visible: pale appearance, whitish wing coverts with bold barring, dark tertials with bold white tips, large and hefty bill and short primary projection.

The under-parts on this bird are mottled more greyish-brown and contrast with the whiter breast and neck.
Great Black-backed Gull, 1st-winter: Private Site, Essex - Feb 2008
This in flight image clearly demonstrates how well patterned 1st-winter Great Black-backed Gulls can be. The bird still has that cold or frosty tone.

There is no window formed by paler inner primaries as found on Herring Gulls.

On the greater coverts note the outer feathers are mostly plan dark brown with just the whitish fringes contrastingly. The inner feathers are more pale centred with dark tips whilst the inner most have 2-3 blackish bars.

The median and lesser coverts are white with dark brown tips creating a series of dark lines along the wing.

The rump is whitish with fine pale brownish spots.

The upper-tail coverts are white with pale brownish well spaced bars.

The tail is striking. There is a bold black tail band which narrows outwards. The outer tail feathers become white based with bold blackish bars and spots whilst the outer most feather is nearly completely white with a bald dark sub-terminal band and a secondary band mid way along the feather.

A super looking bird.
Great Black-backed Gull, 1st-winter: Private Site, Essex - Feb 2008
Compare the undersides of this pale bird with that of the darker bird below
Great Black-backed Gull, 1st-winter: Private Site, Essex - Feb 2008
A close up of the head shows that although the bird is brutish it is has some very fine quality. Note especially the very large blunt tipped bill with strong Gonydeal angle. Head streaking generally never gets any more extensive than this.
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Great Black-backed Gull - Larus marinus
First-years
Great Black-backed Gull, 1st-year: Private Site, Essex - 3rd June 2011
Immature Great Black-backed Gulls are stunning birds. The superbly plumaged bird here is typical. The mantle and scapulars are sandy-buff with prominent dark 'anchors' with many of the central feathers prominently edged white.

The wing coverts contrast in being dark brown with broad white fringes with the greater coverts being especially white with limited dark barring. The tertials are boldly edge with white.
Great Black-backed Gull, 1st-summer: Private Site, Essex - early August 2011
Note the massively deep bill that appears almost over developed. This first-summer bird is exquisitely patterned with sandy-buffs, dark browns and whites and is progressing towards its second-winter plumage.

The primaries are in the throws of being replaced whilst the older outer primaries are currently still retained though these are extremely worn and faded.
Great Black-backed Gull, 1st-year: Private Site, Essex - 24th January 2015
Its difficult to get Great Black-backed Gulls wrong in any plumage as demonstrated here. This bird is huge with massive bill, white head and next large and extensively whitish wing coverts with broad brown barring.

The tertials show large white tips and the primary project is short. A Big Big bird.