Thursday, 4 October 2012

Birds in Focus - Gulls

Gulls can be one of the most difficult of birds to identify, so much so that many birders don't bother!  There are so many variations in colour and plumage depending on the age of the bird and the season. However, Gulls can be the most numerous of all the birds on a particular site and a large flock may indeed consist of four or five different species. Here we concentrate only on adult birds.

Criteria for the identification of Gulls
  1. BPC - Bare Parts Colour - anything without feathers on it, i.e. leg, bill and eye colour
  2. Upper wing colour and pattern
There are five main species of Gull that can usually be found on most large bodies of inland water:
  1. Black-headed Gull - smallest of the five species with red legs and red bill with a black tip
  2. Common Gull - greenish yellow legs with white 'mirrors' on the wing tips which appear rounded.  Black eye.
  3. Herring Gull - pink or flesh legs and yellowish bill and silvery grey upper wing colour. Pale 'beady' eye.
  4. Lesser Black-backed Gull - yellowish legs with slaty grey upper wing colour
  5. Great Black-backed Gull - pink or flesh coloured legs with black upper wing colour. A very large bird.
Nearer to the breeding season the colours get much brighter.

Other Gulls which are scarcer but which can usually be seen in North West England include:

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