Many of the larger gulls have, over the course of the winter, been indulging in a kind of plunge diving activity. Kind of like a half arsed Gannet crossed with a not very good Cormorant. It’s done when the tide is a bit out and is done in the shallows. I’m guessing that they can see their prey, which makes it a bit easier. Normally it results in a Herring Gull getting a freshwater snail that they then fly off with and do a spot of Lammergeier like dropping onto rocks (other gulls round here do not seem to have mastered this – and it can help with quick ID’s – got a snail in it’s bill? It’s a Herring Gull).
Yesterday though, a Lesser Black-backed was a little more successful and pulled a ruddy great carp out of the river. I say carp, but my fish ID skills are not exactly sharp. I can tell the difference between cod in parsley sauce and cod in batter, and that’s nearly it. Anyway, it pulled the flapping fish out of the water onto the foreshore and decided that it was lunchtime. First up – the eye – BOSH! One peck and that was gone. It then proceeded to get stuck into the fleshy bits. None of the other gulls or crows got a look in. After 15 minutes or so, an immature GBB turned up and the LBB just gave way. Instantly. Washed it’s bill in the water and flew off. The GBB didn’t half look skinny – and those legs are a bit lanky – but have a gander at the beak – power!
For the sake of comparison there was another LBB with differing head markings. I was going to rummage around Olsen & Larson last night (commonly known as the big scary gull book) but forgot.
An LBB doing lunch
A GBB doing power.
An LBB doing plumage variation and that.