First Lesser-Black Backed Gulls are starting to arrive

It is still very much winter here in The Netherlands with temperatures averaging around 5 C, but the first Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus fuscus) returning from their wintering grounds in southern Europe are proof that the new breeding season is just around the corner.

After a long winter of observing Herring Gulls with their light-gray wing feathers and pink legs, it is very nice to see the striking dark plumage and yellow legs of adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls again. They are definitely one of my favorite gull species.

I observed my first adult Lesser Black-backed Gull this year 2 weeks ago on February 16, a week earlier than in 2012. Since then, more and more individuals can be seen each day although it is never more than one or two at a time.

Last Sunday I saw this striking adult:

Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, Leiden, The Netherlands, 24 February 2013.

Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, Leiden, The Netherlands, 24 February 2013.

I can’t help but feeling though that there’s something wrong about a Lesser Black-backed Gull in the snow…. (I wonder if he regretted returning this early.)

To top it all off, I’ve also been able to read my first ringed individual for this season with the return (for the 3rd year in a row) of  London GN64662 last Tuesday (February 26), as ever accompanied by an unringed partner.

Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull with metal ring London GN64662 (left), together with partner. Leiden, 2 March 2013.

Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull with metal ring London GN64662 (left), together with partner. Leiden, 2 March 2013.

I’m very much looking forward to observing these beautiful gulls in the breeding colonies again this season!

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