Monday, 20 January 2014


A picture of a first winter Glaucous Gull by Mark Chidwick had me visiting the likely spots around Dover Harbour and port buildings. There was no sign, but I did had a good look at lots of Herring Gulls, and found nothing the get excited about.

There were plenty of first winter Herring Gulls, a few lesser Black-backed Gulls, but no other bigg'uns that I could find.

Along the Prince of Wales Pier there were lots of good views of Kittiwakes and I found out that a Little Gull had also been around. A first winter Mediterranean Gull along with the Black-headed Gulls was a useful addition.

Some of the Kittiwakes cruised very close by, possibly drawn to the pier by the fisherman, who, as far as I could see were having no luck at all.

While scanning the harbour, and watching this Cormorant flying towards me I noticed a small darkish bird a couple of hundred metres out.

A closer look showed it to be the first winter Little Gull taking a rest on the water,

It did fly and obliged with a couple of reasonably close passes. The small size and tiny black bill immediately separates it from the quite similarly patterned first winter Kittiwakes.

Even in this plumage there is already a hint of the dark wing linings that will be obtained in its adult plumage.

Below are a few more shots of it flying past. I must admit that the adults are one of my favourite gulls, and watching then at a breeding colony in Finland a few years ago was a highlight. I we ken getting our coastline inundated as it has been this winter we might end up with suitable habitat for them to breed in the UK. As far as I know they attempted to breed on four occasions in the second half of the last century, but without success.

The phots below show the extent of the dark on the outer wing. This can be quite variable in first year birds.
 First winter birds, like this one, have quite pointed wings. They change shape in adult plumage and ha far more rounded wing tips.

 The scientific name is Larus minutus. Larus = gull and minutis is self explanatory!


chiddy said...

Very nice tony I went 2nd winter on the glaucous gull

Tony Morris said...

I'll have another look at your picture, Martin Gray, on the UK Gulls facebook page also thinks 1st winter (2nd cal year).

Mike H said...

Some nice shots of the Little Gull Tony. Good to see you again out on the POW.