Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Looking out for Gulls

Gull watching is hardcore; shunned by many as just urban pests or just too difficult to get to grips with. But those who chose to embrace Laridae quickly become enveloped in a world of variable plumage, ring reading, winter roost watching and the befriending of other gull watchers through specialists blogs. However, gulls are not just for the winter birder, shivering in dropping temperatures awaiting a roost to build on a local reservoir, gulls, are all year round value with breeding interest in the spring to early summer movements from June onwards.

As I write there is already a hint that post breeding movement is underway. Black-headed gulls are turning up at some of our best sites after breeding, and yellow-legged gull, especially, non breeding sub adult birds, start to appear from late June onwards. With this in mind I took to a loop around the Riverfront, Newport at low tide hoping for something more attractive than just the local rooftop breeding herring and lesser black-backed gulls. 

Although there was a pleasing count of birds along the tide line none were significantly different enough to warrant the scrutiny needed to separate a sub adult yellow-legged from a rank and file herring. But like many who's life is scratching a living from the often unforgiving urban environment some birds display the scars of this life style choice,often manifested by foot deformities. There was an adult lesser black-backed gull with a foot amputation and a rather bleached sub adult herring with a twisted foot at a right angle to its other.  

On the roof top in Brynmawr there are currently hundreds of gulls, swollen by the young of another successful breeding season. From my observations it seems the lesser black-backs start to breed earlier than the herring gulls resulting in the youngsters showing more maturirity. Disappointingly the pair of great black-backed gull that have nested for the past two seasons at this location appear not be present this year.

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