Black-headed Gull

Larus ridibundas

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundas)

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.

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundas)

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.

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundas)

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.

Airborn #2

More photographs of Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) sailing overhead as they take to the air currents above the coast cliffs.

Photographs taken of Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) July 2016, East Cliff, Bournemouth, Dorset. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.

Airborn

On the coast, I enjoyed a couple of hours watching and photographing Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus), floating on air currents along the top of the cliffs. This one was a juvenille, which began to turn, and came quite low overhead.

This type of photography can be quite a challenge, but with some practise you can master panning, following the subject. You have to try to keep your focus, of course, and you have to watch you don’t follow the gull directly into the glare of the sun. I took over 300 photographs in this session, and hoped some came out reasonably well, at least.

Photographs taken of Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) July 2016, East Cliff, Bournemouth, Dorset. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.