Sound recordings and ring readings of Common Gulls

Despite its commonness here in The Netherlands, the Common Gull (Larus canus) is actually quite an elusive gull for me.

Because it is such a shy gull, it cannot be approached as easily as the Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), or even the Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fucus).

During the breeding season, the main locations to observe Common Gulls are out on the fields and grasslands but because they won’t allow you to approach them, observations are usually done from afar. And unless you have access to a breeding colony (which I don’t), good observations remain down to a handful only.

Come winter though and it’s a different story altogether.

When the temperatures drop, less and less food can be found on the grasslands (especially when the top layer starts to freeze over) forcing Common Gulls to find food in populated areas such as city parks.

Although temperatures here are pretty mild at the moment (around 6 degrees Celsius during the day), we have had a brief cold spell recently including one day of snow and ice. Since a couple of weeks therefore, Common Gulls have become a regular site in my home town. Most of these are migrants from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

Their presence has allowed me to record some nice observations of these beautiful medium-sized gulls.

Sound recordings

Ever since I started sound recording a few months ago, one of the sounds that I had high on my list to record was the long-call of a Common Gull.

I love long-calls and now that I’m paying more attention to them by recording them I really start to notice the variety between the different gull species.

To me, the long-call of the Common Gull comes across as especially plaintive, almost indignant even.

Here is a recording from 1 December:

Sonogram of adult Common Gull, performing a long-call.

Sonogram of adult Common Gull (Larus canus), performing a long-call. 1 December 2012, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Note the wide frequency range and the loudness of the call.

Here’s another one from the same day:

Sonogram of adult Common Gull (Larus canus), performing a long-call. 1 December 2012, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Sonogram of adult Common Gull (Larus canus), performing a long-call. 1 December 2012, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Here’s a slightly different one with a longer introduction sequence:

Sonogram of adult Common Gull (Larus canus), performing a long-call. 27 December 2012, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Sonogram of adult Common Gull (Larus canus), performing a long-call. 27 December 2012, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Less known to me were the contact-type calls, heard here when the gull was circling overhead. They sound similar to the introduction notes of the long-call:

Sonogram of a contact call by an adult Common Gull (Larus canus), 7 December 2012, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Sonogram of a contact call by an adult Common Gull (Larus canus), 7 December 2012, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Here’s a particularly soft one:

Sonogram of a contact call by an adult Common Gull (Larus canus), 1 December 2012, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Sonogram of a contact call by an adult Common Gull (Larus canus), 1 December 2012, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Photos

A few particularly beautiful looking first-calendar year Common Gulls could be seen here earlier this month:

First-calendar year Common Gull with white belly. Leiden, The Netherlands, 7 December 2012.

First-calendar year Common Gull with white belly. Leiden, The Netherlands, 7 December 2012.

First-calendar year Common Gull with white belly. Leiden, The Netherlands, 7 December 2012.

First-calendar year Common Gull with white belly. Leiden, The Netherlands, 7 December 2012.

First-calendar year Common Gull with adult looking outer secondaries and outer greater coverts. Leiden, The Netherlands, 7 December 2012.

First-calendar year Common Gull with adult looking outer secondaries and outer greater coverts. Leiden, The Netherlands, 7 December 2012.

This adult stood out because of its yellow-tinged body parts (perhaps diet related?):

Adult Common Gull with yellow-tinged underparts. Leiden, The Netherlands, 7 December 2012.

Adult Common Gull with yellow-tinged underparts. Leiden, The Netherlands, 7 December 2012.

Ring readings

I’ve managed to read a few Dutch ringed individuals lately, but the highlight presented itself yesterday in the form of a Norwegian ringed first-calendar year individual:

First-calendar year Common Gull with white ring J9JZ. Leiden, 27 December 2012.

First-calendar year Common Gull with white ring J9JZ. Leiden, 27 December 2012. Note the extensive white in the tertials.

This is my first Common Gull with Norwegian ring and it was ringed early September of this year in the vicinity of Oslo, Norway. Its true origin is therefore unknown and it will be interesting to follow further observations over the coming years.

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