British wildlife recordings
Larus ridibundus : Black-headed Gull - Laridae
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Havergate Island, Suffolk: OS Grid Reference(641500,247500)
Black-headed Gull, Larus ridibundus
Calls uttered by a colony of black-headed gulls, recorded on marshland on Havergate Island, Suffolk, on 17 May 1971. The black-headed gull is a successful species, which has adapted to living in a wide variety of habitats both on the coast and inland. It feeds on a range of foods including insects, fish, worms, carrion, and seeds, as well as exploiting refuse tips in winter when other food is scarce. It is the smallest of all British 'common' gulls, and is an agile and slender bird that will often catch food in mid-air if scraps are thrown to it. Despite its name, the black-headed gull actually has a predominantly white head for most of the year and a dark chocolate brown head during the breeding season. This dark head plumage is used in display, when it is lowered or raised as a sign of aggression or surrender. The black-headed gull is a very vocal bird with a wide range of variations on the rather harsh 'kree-aaa' screech-like call. This can particularly be heard in breeding colonies, which may sometimes number over 20,000 individuals. Due to its immense adaptability, the breeding population in Britain and Ireland is over 200,000 pairs, which swells in winter to 3,000,000 individuals as resident birds are joined by others from northern Europe and Russia.