Thursday, 30 June 2011

Club Med

Adult and juvenile Mediterranean Gulls at one of their busy south coast colonies recently.
This adult Med Gull seemed to be looking for feeding opportunities around the nests of wary Black-headed Gulls.
This juvenile Mediterranean Gull looks like a recently fledged individual.
It may not be the scarcity that it once was, but Mediterranean Gull remains one of my favourite larids. Here in London they are increasingly frequent along the Thames (and to a lesser extent elsewhere) outside the breeding season, no doubt partly because of the growing population on the south coast.

As gulls go, adult Mediterranean is a work of beauty ...
The latest estimate for Britain, for 2008, suggests there are between 543 and 592 breeding pairs at 37 sites mainly between Dorset and Kent, but with scattered pairs as far as north as Cumbria (British Birds 103: 523). Some of those southern colonies are now well established, including one I visited earlier this month, where these images were taken.

... but juveniles have an appeal of their own too.

Adult Med Gulls are undeniably immaculate birds, oozing class and beauty among a flock of more workaday Black-headed or Common Gulls. But juveniles are also a work of distinction, all scaly grey with pale eyelids on smudgy faces which somehow suggest an origin more exotic than a south coast gravel pit. By the time birds of this age wander as far as London they’ve often worn off some of the grey powdery coating to their plumage, and look rather paler and plainer.

Another juvenile: note the scaly upperparts and white eyelids on a smudgy grey face.
Med Gulls don’t have a particularly long history in the capital. According to the London Bird Report 1967 the second record was just 46 years ago, on 18 May 1965 at Staines Reservoirs (the date of the first seems unclear). By the end of 1976, when there were three records, the total had risen to 16. The last of these, an adult at Epsom Common, was the cover bird for that year’s report, such was its noteworthiness; I remember it well because the following winter the bird returned and my late uncle Rodney Lomax, very much my birding mentor at the time, was visiting from Cheshire and took my brother Auk and I across town to see it. Contrast that with the present position, the London Bird Report 2007 revealing monthly maxima of up to 35 birds in the capital – a refreshingly positive story for a scarce breeding species.


  1. I love watching these Med Gulls on the water. I always appreciate the beauty of life while looking at them.



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