The sight and sound of being charged by a Herring Gull from the air

The sight of a Herring Gull defending her nest. Texel, The Netherlands, 7 May 2011.

Female Herring Gull ringed as Green F.AHK, defending her nest from the air. Texel, The Netherlands, 7 May 2011.

What’s it like to be the subject of an angry gull? These images and sound recording were made in the gull colony of Texel, The Netherlands while researchers performed brief nest inspections. During these activities, adult European Herring Gulls Larus argentatus argenteus attacked them from the air in an effort to defend their nest.

Recording of male Herring Gull Green M.ANH while attacking from the air. The sonogram clearly shows when he comes in low over my head. In the background, other Herring Gulls can be heard making alarm calls (kek-kek-kek’s) and long-calls. Texel, The Netherlands, 3 May 2013.

The attacker: male European Herring Gull ringed as Green M.ANH. Texel, The Netherlands 3 May 2013.

The attacker: male European Herring Gull ringed as Green M.ANH. Texel, The Netherlands 3 May 2013.

Note: in no way am I condoning disturbing breeding birds. The observations were made under the supervision of an experienced researcher and the nest inspection lasted only a few minutes after which the birds immediately returned to their nest and continued breeding.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “The sight and sound of being charged by a Herring Gull from the air

  1. How close do you actually (usually) need to get to a gull’s nest before they’ll attack? I had a pair of LBBGs nesting on a flat section of rooftop next door to my old house, maybe a metre up from where I walked past, and they never swooped on me. They used to start kek-kek-kek-ing and standing alert if you were to look directly at them, but that was all.

    • I think it totally depends on the individual gull and the location of its nest. Your urban gull is used to people walking by so may be less likely to charge or may only do so once the eggs have hatched.

      The colony where I took these photos and recording was only visited for a short period of time every third day so these gulls were not used to visitors and acted aggressively throughout the breeding season. Having said that, one adult Lesser Black-backed Gull remained on its nest to incubate its eggs even when walking past within a meter.

      • A few years ago, a read about a Herring Gull pair that nested on a cargo ferry loading ramp. The nest was less than a metre away from the passing trucks – and the gulls apparently didn’t seem to be concerned about it, and certainly weren’t trying to headbutt the trucks all day.

        Do you ever plan to visit Japan and see the Kabushima gulls? Apparently, you can walk among their nests with no problems at all. I’d love to see them myself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s