Tuesday 10 May 2011

Gull Interlude

This is not a gripping post about the incredibly smart adult Audouin's Gull that I managed to see at Minsmere yesterday. I'd be surprised if anyone wanted to hear about how lucky I was that I had a rare day without the school run and thus was able to scoot up there and get prolonged views of this mega-gull, recorded only five times in the UK, from the public hide on the beach before it flew off not to be seen again. So you'll be pleased to hear that I won't be talking about that at all.

No, the idea to talk about Gulls is totally unconnected with the awesome events of yesterday in Suffolk. Rather, I had pre-formed ideas to talk about Gulls I had seen in America, principally Laughing Gull and American Herring Gull, neither of which I have seen in this country (unlike Audouin's Gull of course), though they do occur from time to time. In fact, Laughing Gull, following the fall of White Stork on Sunday, is supposedly my most obvious UK tick. I can't say I'd go too far for a smithsonianus of any description, but adult Laughing Gulls are superb creatures (with blood-red bills roughly the same colour as....) and I'd be very keen to see one in this country.

In New York, I found a few Laughing Gulls on the jetties at Brooklyn, but there were many more at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, and also out on the beach at Rockaway. These latter birds allowed a fairly close approach, though I did have to get covered in sand.


American Herring Gulls were present more or less everywhere, including in Central Park. They are best described as brutes. There is a huge breeding colony of them (and Great Black-backed) on the islands in the middle of Jamaica Bay, best viewed looking east from the subway south of Broad Channel station. If you want to get up close and personal - though I don't recommend it, take MACE and a baton if you do - the best place is the Wildlife Refuge itself. They look like UK Herring Gulls, but meaner. How on earth people find them over here is anyone's guess - they must just be good at Gulls I suppose. Just like me.


  1. Presumably you had some valid reason for going to Minsmere anyway? Like returning that too-small pair of gloves you got for Christmas? Or breaking in a new set of tyres or trying out a new wing mirror or some such? Shurely you didn't just go twitching did you?

  2. Quite right Col, my wing mirror adjustments are now complete. Audouin's Gull - imagine my surprise.

  3. Love the second shot, although the one of the herring gull with the crab is also classic... almost quintessential, but not quite disgusting enough--the crab needs to be clutching a cigarette butt or something.