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Mediterranean Gull

Larus melanocephalus

Sléibhín meánmhuirí


Status: Breeds in small numbers in the south-east. Winter visitor from northwest France, Belgium & the Netherlands, occurring from September to April.

Conservation Concern: Amber-listed in Ireland due to its small breeding population. The European population is regarded as Secure.

Identification: A small gull, adults are very pale grey above with white underparts and unmistakable all white outer wing feathers. Adults have a black hood and bright red legs and bill in the breeding season, In the winter, the hood is replaced by a dark markings on the head and the bill and legs are less bright. Similar to Black- headed Gull, but slightly bigger with shorter, less pointed wings, a shorter, thicker bill and longer legs. Mediterranean Gulls have three age groups and attain adult plumage after two years when they moult into adult winter plumage. Juveniles have dark, strongly marked upperparts, tail band and dark legs. First year birds retain the dark heavily marked upperwings and tail band, but have a very pale mantle as adults birds do. Second year birds more closely resemble adult birds but show some dark markings in the outer wing feathers.

Similar Species: Black-headed and other small gull species.

Call: A characteristic "mewing", noticeably different in comparison to Black-headed Gull. Mediterranean Gull tends to be less vocal than other gull species in winter.

Diet: Terrestrial and aquatic insects, marine molluscs and fish.

Breeding: A recent colonist, the Mediterranean Gull arrived in Ireland in 1995 and first bred in the Republic in 1996 in Co. Wexford. Prefers low lying islands near the coast on which to breed. Only two or three pairs breed but this is likely to increase with more and more birds seen in suitable habitat in the breeding season. Regularly breeds, at Ladies Island Lake in Co. Wexford, along with other nesting seabirds, including Black-headed Gulls, with which it is often associated. The bulk of the population of this species breeds in eastern Europe, with small colonies in western

Wintering: Present in Ireland as a wintering species in increasing numbers. Is widespread around the east coast and can also been seen elsewhere in smaller numbers.

Where to See: In the breeding season at Lady's Island Lake, near Rosslare, in County Wexford. During the winter, good numbers are regularly seen at Sandycove, Co. Dublin.

Monitored by: Wintering birds are monitored through the Irish Wetland Bird Survey. Breeding seabirds are monitored through surveys carried out every 15-20 years, the last was Seabird 2000, which was undertaken between 1998 & 2002.

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