Monday, 7 July 2008

One for the Larophiles

Amongst the 60 or so species of Gulls in the world quite a few have black heads, but the Black-headed Gull, so common at St Margaret's isn't one of them. It has a chocolate brown head.

I decided to have a look at the Bay this afternoon, during a brighter period and was immediately struck but the number of Black-headed Gulls feeding along the lines of the waves as they broke just off shore and then my attention was quickly grabbed by this Gull with a BLACK head. It's a Mediterranean Gull, and they really do have black heads and the black extends much further than the brown hood on the Black-headed Gulls.

A full adult Mediterranean Gull has plain pearly grey wings, this one has the black wing tips that show that it is a bird in its second summer.

This scruffy looking gull is a first summer Mediterranean Gull, beginning to moult into its second winter plumage. It is a slightly unusual bird as it is showing more of a black hood than is normal for a bird of this age, although it is very similar to a photograph in the Helm Gull Identification Guide to Gulls.
Mediterranean Gulls are slightly larger than Black-headed Gulls, although due to the angle it doesn't look it in the photo above, but you can see the slightly larger "droopier" bill.

The rough seas, driven in by the 40-50 mph winds were obviously bringing a lot of food items to the surface and the gulls were dipping sown to take items off the water.

As the Mediterranean Gull dips down the very worn nature of its feathers is obvious.

The Gulls were resting on the shingle in front of the houses at he end of the beach. A quick scan found the first summer bird sitting between two Black-headed Gulls, showing the differences in the bill shape very well.
As I looked through the flock two Gulls with black heads stood out on the right hand side.

They were quite close together and the bottom right bird is the second summer bird I'd been watching earlier. In this plumage I think that the with eye crescents give them a very attractive look compared to their Black-headed companions.

This is the second summer bird, the black wings tips are showing well.

This is an adult bird and I hadn't seen it flying at all. As for as I can see there's not a hint of black on the wing tips.


Steve said...

What a fantastic series of photographs Tony!

Tony Morris said...

Thanks Steve, the joy of digital photography is take 300, pick out a few and it hasn't cost you. That way even I get a few that are usable.

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Gerald Segelbacher said...

Nice pics as usual !