Species: Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)

Family: Gulls (LARIDAE)

Category: Birds

Location: NE

A. Birds

More extensive information on birds can be found in a separate blog post.

B. Gulls (LARIDAE)

The word 'gull' is from a Welsh word meaning 'wailing', and that is the familiar sound of our coastal ecosystems, to which the strong flying web-footed gulls are essential as predators and scavengers. Generally, gulls are ground nesters, but on the built-up south coast there are fewer and fewer sites that are undisturbed, and gull numbers are falling. It used to be said that gulls foraging inland was a sign of stormy weather at sea, but nowadays it is opportunistic feeding by birds under pressure on an increasingly urbanised coast. Gulls, with their mournful cries, were once thought to carry the souls of dead sailors, and as such were an unlucky omen.

C. Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)

These large, handsome gulls are much complained about for their noisy cries and bold scavenging, but they are birds under pressure on an urban coastline, where they are essential for the ecosystem. They have flesh-coloured legs and feet, and a hooked yellow bill with a red spot near the tip. They are resident breeders and Winter visitors. Although 130,000 pairs were recorded in 2016, this is a serious decline, and their conservation status is RED.

The Herring Gull is listed on the IUCN Birds of Conservation Concern: Red List. It is classed as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species. It is protected under Section 41 of The Natural Environment & Rural Communities Act, 2006, and is also on the Sussex Notable Bird List.

Images

Herring Gull

This adult Herring Gull was caught by one of the Cemetery's trail cameras at 4:35pm on March 16th 2021. The image may not be perfect, but the pink legs are diagnostic of this handsome bird, enabling us to distinguish it from the slightly smaller Common Gull which has yellow legs.

Although these birds may provoke your ire as they come for your chips, sandwiches or candy floss, just remember that they are protected under The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981!