As the 'beast from the east' keeps coming our local group of stunning Mediterranean Gulls are coming to terms with the high winds, horizontal snowfall and zero temperatures. We have had up to 14 birds present including 1st winters, 2nd winters, adult winters and a couple of birds turning to near full summer plumage now showing their black hoods.
Having taken residence with a local group of black-headed gulls for many years now at Holbeck Car Park on the south side of Scarborough these super cool gulls never fail to perform. On low tide they take to foraging on the rocks below the car park and return to scavenge at the car park on high tide.
We have come across a few colour ringed individuals over the past few years including birds this year that have come from Belgium, Serbia and Poland. What is really interesting is that we seem to have one bird that keeps coming back year after year.
They start to arrive at Holbeck in late July and sometimes by early autumn are in double figures. You will find 1st winter, 2nd winter and adult birds. It is great to see them at different ages. It is when they gain their jet black heads that these birds look truly special.
By mid February the adult med gulls will start to slowly make the change from winter to summer plumage gaining a smokey grey mottled head to eventually becoming a full black hood. The red eye ring, bill and legs increase in colour depth and they develop what I call an upper and lower white eyebrow.
They are known as a 'true' white-winged gull with no black tipped primaries just pure white wings and grey backs. To me they are a proper 'black-headed' gull, unlike our species which has a chocolate brown head, but yet called a black-headed gull.
We have up to 8 adult birds present at the moment with a couple of birds nearly full hooded. Give it another couple of weeks and if they all stick around then most of them will be in full summer plumage before they take flight and leave us at the end of March to make the return journey back to their breeding grounds either in the UK or back across to eastern Europe - safe journey.