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Mediterranean gull

Larus melanocephalus

It wasn’t long ago that the Med gull was considered an uncommon sighting along our shoreline – they were a very rare UK bird until the 1950s. However in recent decades sightings have become much more common and they are now found nesting here in large colonies.

As its name suggests, its main wintering area is in the Mediterranean, but many will spend the winter in the UK. Globally most are found on the northern part of the Black Sea in Moldova, Ukraine and Russia.

ID tips for Med gulls

Med gulls are slightly larger than black-headed gulls with sturdier red bills. They also have white wing-tips in contrast to the black wing-tips of the black-headed gull.⠀

Like black-headed gulls, they loose much of their dark head plumage in the winter, sporting their smart black head gear only in the summer months.

From a distance you should be able to see that the Med gull’s head colouring is more of a true black ‘hood’ compared with the black-headed gull’s head chocolate-brown mask.⠀Med gulls make a distinctive mewing call – very different from the black-headed gull’s laughing call.

Local spotlight

The Solent is a special place for Med gulls in Britain as it’s here where they started breeding back in 1968 – at Needs Ore Point, New Forest. There are now hundreds breeding here around the Solent with Langstone Harbour being a favourite spot.

Conservation status

Mediterranean gulls are amber listed in the UK

They are a qualifying feature for the Solent and Southampton Water Special Protection Area – that means, when the site was designated, a nationally significant number used these coastlines in the winter.

Did you know?

Their call sounds like a cat meowing.