Country Corner

Black headed gull
Black headed gull
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You may recall this picture - it and other ringed Black Headed Gulls have featured in Country Corner before.

I have read rings have revealed the species frequently flies over the North Sea to spend its winter holidays with us. My own ring “controls” have tended to originate in Norway.

The other day near Port Seton I found a recently dead Black Headed Gull and checked it for leg rings as I do with all dead birds.

Expecting it to be another Norwegian, I was surprised to read the words, Zoological Museum, Denmark.

Sending off the ring number, I had an email from Jens Mikkel Lausten of the museum. Jens tells me ‘my’ gull was ringed as a juvenile in a nesting colony in Denmark.

His next piece of information amazed me. The bird was ringed in June 1998! Its precise age was 15 years, eight months and five days.

It so happens my freind Stephen Welch takes a particular interest in the various migratory gulls of Port Seton area and has acquired great knowledge of their movements over the years.

I forwarded Stephen the details and received this reply. “This is awesome George - not surprised, but to actually get these details is phenomenal! Black Headed Gull typical lifespan 11 yrs, can get to c30 yrs max, so it had a fair innings.”

I am glad I have filled in some details for Stephen regarding his ‘local’ gulls.

Allowing for wild spirit and free as a bird wanderings, that wee gull must have travelled at least 25,000 km in its long life. Quite possibly you could double that figure!

It was a sad sight to see it lying dead, but I hope his or her story has given you an appreciation of just how special even ”seagulls” are in this amazing world of ours.