It’s always a pleasure to watch young gulls grow up from a fluffy chick into a beautiful juvenile. During the breeding season of 2017, I really enjoyed observing two sibling Lesser Black-backed Gulls, both of which we managed to fit with a colour ring. Their father already had one, so even before they were ringed, we were able to follow their progress.
The images and videos below were taken during a period of 4 weeks in the gull colony of IJmuiden Forteiland, the Netherlands.
The first time that we became aware of the chicks was on June 12 when they were about a week old. They were being fed by father Green YBDL while their un-ringed mother looked on.
A week later, the mantle and wing coverts started to appear.
Being fed well, they were growing up fast. The full mantle and wing coverts were now in place and the tail feathers were starting to come through.
On July 3rd, both young were ringed: the largest as Green YCMR and the smallest with Green YCMS.
At this stage, the wings were almost fully developed with only the outer primaries still growing.
During our last visit to the colony, both were looking like proper juveniles with only the smallest YCMS still showing some downy feathers on the head and belly.
As ever, father YBDL was keeping a close guard.
Both YCMR and YCMS should be flying in about a week and perhaps be leaving the colony the week after. I’m hoping to come across them on the nearby beaches soon or perhaps when I’m visiting various locations in the Netherlands and abroad.
I’ll certainly be looking out for them and wish them all the best during their first years! And who knows, maybe they will find their way back to our colony to start their own family some day.