Sunday 30 March 2014

Second Year Ring-billed Gull

As you know, I've put in my time at Shawell A5 Lagoons and today I got some reward for my efforts.

I had been a good boy this morning so it was off to Shawell again for the afternoon. I was hoping to see five more colour-ringed gulls to bring my total for the site to 300. On arrival there was a couple of hundred gulls loafing about, but a Common Buzzard flushed them and they all flew off towards the nearby landfill site. 

After this I decided to eat my sandwiches, as there was only about half-a-dozen Common Gulls left behind. Suddenly they were all in flight right in front of me. Amongst them was a gull that was larger and had slightly longer wings, but also quite similar in appearance. The Common Gulls were not happy with this bird and they were really harassing it and forced it to land on the water. The view of it on the water was good and almost immediately I thought that it was a second calendar year Ring-billed Gull.

The first thing I noticed was its bill, which was pink based and had a really distinctive black tip. I also had a similar aged Common Gull in view and its bill shape was clearly different - much weaker. Also its grey saddle was slightly paler than the Common Gull. Before I had the chance to check out the rest of its plumage it was mobbed again. Fortunately it came back down on the water and this time I was able to check the features I’d missed the first time. I saw that the greater coverts were similar in colour to the mantle and I had just enough time to rule out the possibility of it being a Herring Gull. It was clearly smaller than even the tiniest female Herring Gull; its head was more rounded and its wing pattern was not right for that species.

Sadly it was over a bit too quick for my liking, as I pride myself on getting a record shot of the birds I find. Of course the record is subject to approval by the LROS records committee, but I'm happy with my Identification.

To brighten up the posting here are some of my photos of other Ring-billed Gulls that were not hassled by Common Gulls:

Click on Read More.

First-summer Ring-billed Gull

Second-winter Ring-billed Gull

Adult Ring-billed Gull


  1. Brilliant find and very well deserved Carl, I bet you were buzzing! It's a shame you didn't get a pic of it and it buggered off all too quickly - I bet a bit of you is gutted, but hey these things happen, I know I'd be gutted too. But you know your gulls better than most so it should get through the records panel no probs.

  2. Yes I was not best pleased with the Common Gulls, but at least they alerted me to it. Hopefully I've proved myself enough over the years for my colleagues on the records committee to accept it.