Silver gulls: paradise is a hot chip at the beach

SUCCESSFUL SCAVENGERS: Silver Gulls thrive around human habitat, where their numbers are increasing. One of my earliest childhood memories is of playing on the beach on our annual holiday and“seagulls” as we called them.
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My brothers took great pleasure in charging at them so thatthey rose in a cloud and settled again a few metres away.

Children and their dogs still dothis today, although the silver Gulls are more likely to run away than fly.

Silver Gulls are found at any watered habitat and are common throughout Australia, NewZealand and New Caledonia.

They are increasing in numbers around areas of humanhabitation.

Having a bath.

They’re successful scavengers, pestering humans for handouts and scraps, pilfering chipsfrom unattended food containers and rummaging through tips and open garbage bins.

Theyalso flock in large numbers around fishing boats as they return to port.

Their natural food is worms, fish, insects, crustaceans and bird’s eggs and chicks. This is arather disturbing side to their nature but would have been essential for survival whenhuman food was not available. A Hunter Bird Observers Club member recently witnessed aSilver Gull catching a Fairy Martin and after a bit of thrashing around, swallowing it whole.

Admiring the scenery.

Silver Gulls are gregarious and usually sociable, but we have all witnessed the aggressivebehaviour that erupts when food is involved and social instincts are overtaken bycompetition and dominant birds establish a pecking order.

‘Sea Gulls’ are white with light grey back and black-tipped wings, young birds have mottledbrown patterns on the wings. In adults the bill, legs and eye ring are bright orange-red andin young birds it is brown.

They nest in large colonies on offshore islands, pair for life and usually produce two broodsa year.

The nest consists of a shallow scrape on the ground, lined with vegetation and thetwo or three chicks that hatch are raised by both parents.

Gulls are known to learn and pass on behaviour to other gulls and presumably theiroffspring.

They have been observed in a group stamping their feet on grass to imitaterainfall, fooling the earth worms into coming to the surface and providing the gulls with asnack.

Loafing at the ocean baths.

Writing this article reminded me of the 1970 book Jonathon Livingstone Seagull by RichardBach that was later made into a movie with a Neil Diamond soundtrack.

The seagull in thatstory became an inspirational teacher.

* More pictures online

Hunter Bird Observers Club website can be found at 梧桐夜网hboc.org419论坛This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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