This is quite a common gull which I see in many places, like when I visit the coast, local parks, lakes and pools. It has variable plumage depending on age and the time of year, but a relatively small-sized sea-bird, with distinctive red beak and red legs. Greyish back plumage with white underparts, and black tail feathers with a white edge along the forewing. It has a chocolate-brown or greyish head, or more of a hood, but never entirely black as the name suggests. It becomes white in winter. The juvenile has a ginger-brown mantle, shoulder, and wing feathers.
It feeds on almost anything, including fish, worms, insects, seaweed and refuse. It nests in a scrape in the ground, or on cliffs and buildings. Lays two to three eggs which are incubated by both parents for up to about three weeks. It can live for up to 15 years.
Seen all year round, and found in a wide range of freshwater habitats, as well as coastal areas. It also inhabits farmland where it commonly follows ploughs to feed on disturbed worms and insects, refuse tips, and towns and cities. This species was nearly extinct in Britain during the 19th century, until a dramatic rise in numbers in the 20th century, but now it is slipping back again. Although widespread and our commonest inland gull, and because it has seen a sharp decrease in numbers in recent years, it has an RSPB amber status.
Photograph of Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundas) taken August 2016, Bournemouth Winter Gardens, Dorset. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.