Numbers increase as the winter Mediterranean Gull movement continues

Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2017

The evening roost at Tophill Low NR in East Yorkshire continued to be attended by Mediterranean Gulls Ichthyaetus melanocephalus  during the final days of January and the opening days of February.

After a lacklustre showing earlier this winter, from January 19th it has been a constant species in the roost until February 3rd, with the total so far involving a minimum of 16-18 birds, including 10-11 individuals which appeared between January 30th and February 2nd, as Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus and Common Gull Larus canus reached their highest totals of the winter to date.

Due to the poor light conditions, many of them have been recorded on video, but the example of differences between individual first-winter birds is illustrated in the photographs.

Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2017

Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire February 2017

Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2017

The majority of the birds have been of first-winter age, but odd second-winter and adult birds have been appearing – again individuals picked out by differing plumage patterns and obvious structural differences.

The question will always remain – where do they go when they leave Tophill?

Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire February 2017

Following 4-5 Glaucous Gull L. hyperboreus so far this year, making it already the best year in site history for the species (since 1981 at least) the total rose to 5-6 when yet another dropped in on February 3rd at 5pm in poor light. (It can only be predicted it will stay true to site history and fail to reappear again but I guess I’ll be finding out on February 4th.)

Glaucous Gull Larus hyberboreus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire February 2017

As ever, for the latest news and updates, check out the Tophill Low NR Blog and twitter feed.

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