Thursday, 17 November 2016

Playing herring gulls

This morning at a local park, I noticed a young Herring Gull picking an object, flying off and being chased by another. Then the gull landed on the water and dropped the object and pretended to dive to pick it up repeatedly, as in a lazy drop-catch game. When I saw the object at a better angle I realised it was an empty freshwater mussel shell, which happened to float. Funnily enough, a couple of hours later when I walked past either another or the same young Herring Gull was still playing with it.

The young gull flies off with the freshwater mussel shell.

Later on, with cloudy weather, two gulls handling the shell.


  1. Thanks for this very interesting account. I've watched young Herring Gulls playing with all kinds of things -- stones, sticks, plastic bags, straps, pens, bottles, cups, combs, deflated tennis balls and various unknown objects -- but I've never seen two playing together or sharing a toy. Usually when one has a toy the other is envious and may try to take it.

    1. Thank you for your detailed reply. I must thank you as well for I had never noticed play in gulls until you described it. I assumed that gulls chasing or dropping things were doing so with food items! Once I read your posts I started paying more attention, knowing does change the way you see things! The gulls together in the photo I don't think they were playing together, but one was watching the other very intently. I wonder if they are siblings. When one chases another for a toy, I would regard this as a together play, but I guess more experiments are needed to test that the 'chaser' does know that the other gull has got a 'toy' and not food. It reminds me of a game of tag!