Monday, 5 March 2012

The Herring Gull pair at The Rock

More often than not there will be a Herring Gull pair by the pond in my local park. I assume it must be the same pair, as seagulls are long-lived birds and they behave in an aggressive way to immature gulls that land near the pond. This pair likes a particular spot which I call "The Rock", a vantage point on a promontory on the edge of the pond, and both individuals often stand there side by side.
 Today, a gang of excited Mallard males were giving chase to a female and one of them started mating with her. This behaviour is common in Mallards and is known as forced copulation, where there is no display and the female is corralled by males who are not their partners and forced to mate. The gull, which was very close, saw this, walked to the mating pair, and pecked the male! Not just a gentle peck, no, she even got some feathers out of him. This was a bit too much for the drake, his passion was quickly dispelled, he dismounted the female immediately and walked away a bit ruffled while the other drakes watched. Everything happened fast and I only had time to take a shot of the last part of the scene (below).
The pair of Herring Gulls at the Rock 
Some twenty minutes later I noticed the pair were calling noisily with their miaowing calls, they were feeding on something on the ground. An egg! By the look of it it was a duck's egg all cracked and its contents spilled on the path. When I went to check, it had all the looks of an infertile egg. Still, the seagulls took turns feeding on it.
 One of the Herring Gulls feeding on the egg
The spilled egg

1 comment:

  1. I have seen that forced copulation, not a pretty sight, but to have a Herring Gull take umbrage at the drake is amazing.