Gulls Index Page

Black-headed Gull - Larus ridibundus

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Black-headed Gull - Adult summer, Undisclosed Site, Essex 11th April 2009
Note the brown hood, not black as in Mediterranean Gull, a wrongly descriptive bird name if ever there was one. The hood extends from the throat, behind the ear coverts and up onto the crown; it does not encompass the whole head as in Mediterranean Gull. The white eye crescents are narrow and do not meet in front of the eye.

The bill is slender and all dark/deep red and the legs are dark red.

The upper-parts are plain pale grey.

The primaries extend well beyond the tips of the tertials and black with white outer edges and small white tips, becoming increasingly larger on P7 and P6. The outermost edge of P10 is black forming a black leading edge to the white window.

The overall build is slender, rather attenuated and with a small head.
Black-headed Gull - Adult summer, unkown, Essex March 2007
Note the same features as detailed in the previous image.
Black-headed Gull - Adult summer, Paglesham Lagoon, Essex 30th June 2008
Note the brown, not black hood, narrow white eye crescents which do not meet in front of the eye, slender all dark red bill and plain grey upper-parts with not contrasting pale trailing edge.

On the spreadwing:
White leading edge formed by mostly white outer primaries; black trailing edge to the primaries and grey  inner primaries.
Black-headed Gull - Adult summer, Paglesham Lagoon, Essex 30th June 2008
The odd wing shape is due to missing inner primaries.

The underside of the primaries are dusky with the white of the outer webs greatly reduced; On Boneparte's Gull, all ages, the inner primaries are silvery white.
Black-headed Gull - Adult summer, Undisclosed Site, Essex 5th April 2010
An unusual bird that exhibits brighter than normal bill colouration, bright orange, and bolder and broader white 'eye-lids' which meet at the rear of the eye.

Note the legs are deep red but with orange knees and heels whilst the grey upper-parts are slightly paler than on a typical Black-headed Gull.

Below compared with a normal adult summer Black-headed Gull.
Black-headed Gull - Leucistic adult winters, Undisclosed Site, Essex 11th December 2010 (above) and 18th December 2010 (below).
Showing that Black-headed Gull can be just as variable as the large white-headed gulls these two leucistic birds show different extremes.

The bird above shows an overall white plumage with bright red bare parts whilst the head markings are milky brown and the primary tips are very pale washed out.

The bird below lacks any head markings, is overall snowy white but with normal black primaries; Normal upper-part toned Black-headed Gulls can be seen towards the top left of the image.
Black-headed Gull - adult winter?, Undisclosed Site, Essex 5th March 2011
The lack of white tips to the primaries, save for one very small spot, indicates that this bird is probably a second-winter rather than adult other wise all other aspects to the bird is as adult..
Black-headed Gull - Leucistic adult, Undisclosed Site, Essex 31st December 2011
Another variation on the leucistic Black-headed Gull theme. This birds upper-parts are white, or extreme end of the palest grey, whilst the bare parts and primaries were normal. It was a strikingly white looking bird in flight.