A pretty gull…?

“Seagulls” get a pretty bad press.  Most people encounter the Herring Gull whilst in town when it pinches their chips in summer and turn against gulls as a whole.  But there are quite a few types in this country, and few of them have expanded quite so much into urban spaces.  I personally think the Lesser Black Backed Gull is quite a smart bird, and Black Headed Gulls are a bit kinder but neither compare to the dainty Kittiwake.

The Kittiwake is a true cliff dweller, forming neat mud pedestals for their eggs on narrow ledges on sea cliffs.  They gather this mud from  boggy patches all over Skomer and use vegetation to strengthen their structures.  These are normally in quite close proximity to others and small sections of cliffs become home to dozens of these buoyant birds floating to and from the sea.  Their fair white bodies are contrasted with their black wingtips, that look like they’ve been dipped in ink as my dad says.  This, along with their distinctive flight, makes Kittiwakes easy to pick out from the “seagulls” when they are quite a distance out to sea.

Another cool thing bout these gulls is the patterning of juveniles.  Most immature gulls tend to be grubby brown or speckled things that look like a poor copy of the adult.  Whereas a young Kittiwake possesses a bold zig zag of black going almost from wingtip to wingtip that diminishes to just the jet black tips of the adult.  This bold pattern makes the young even easier to pick out, unless you live near a Little Gull breeding ground…

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