Friday, 13 September 2013

Lesser Black Backed gull

Three different gull individuals, a Herring Gull, a Lesser Black Back, and a Common Gull arrived at the park and flew in circles around the pond, their keen eyes looking for food. Several people come early in the morning and leave bread and scraps on the side. After finally landing, before coming to the food, this Lesser Black Backed gull had a good look around, a bit nervous. Once the other two gulls landed, they all went in with the feral pigeons to eat.


  1. I have such trouble in naming Gulls, I know only Herring and Black-headed with any certainty.

  2. I know what you meann Toffeeaple, in flight they can be tricky, and then there are the summer and winter plumages, not to mention that the large ones take 5 years in reaching adulthood, passing through transitional plumages hard to tell apart. I think british names should reflect the consistency of leg colour of the common gulls: Pink-legged gull: Herring; Red-legged gull: Black headed; Green-legged gull: common, Yellow-legged gull: Lesser black backed. The common 4 species are all very tame in my local parks,and it help familiarising with them.

  3. Leg colour is very variable. In Black-headed Gulls it ranges from a light marmalade orange to deep beetroot red, darkening with age over several years long after the birds have grown adult plumage. In Common Gulls it can be pale straw yellow, pale greenish yellow, or shade of grey anywhere from off-white to mid-grey. In Lesser Black-backed gulls it can range from pale pinkish yellow to deep egg yellow. In Herring Gulls there is less variation, from pinkish grey to greyish beige.

    There is one, and I think only one, reliable way to tell a juvenile Herring Gull from a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull, before they have grown any telltale light grey or dark grey feathers on their back as they do in their second year. The tips of the inner primaries of a young Herring Gull are whitish. The tips of the primaries and secondaries of a young Lesser Black-back are an even grey all the way along.

    1. Hi Ralph, thank you for your input. They are a really tricky group indeed!