Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis [Ord, 1815]

(Extremely rare Nearctic vagrant)

  1. One, 2nd-summer, 9th May 1998 (N.R. Milbourne).
  2. One, adult, 18th Jan. 2012 (N.R. Milbourne).

This American species is relatively new to Britain with the first being found at Blackpill, Swansea in March 1973. It seems quite likely that others will have occurred in Britain before then, but they were not identified as Ring-billed Gulls Larus delawarensis. In support of this supposition, there was a record of a bird in Spain during 1951 and in Germany as long ago as 1968. The first for the Bristol area was found at Chew Valley Lake in March 1980, with another eight days later at the same venue. The species is almost annual in the Bristol area today.

Rare gulls seem to be just that at Blagdon Lake, no doubt because there is no sizeable roost other than Black-headed Gulls. So, I was quite surprised to come across a Ring-billed Gull sitting on the water just off Green Lawn on 9th May 1998; itself an unusually late spring occurrence. The view was brief, but the gull was found later the same day at Barrow Tanks and aged as a second summer. It remained until early evening, then flew off towards Bristol International Airport. Its immaturity might account for the late migration date as second-year birds are said to be more leisurely in their migration north than adults (Vinicombe, 1985).

Bibliography (sources of information)

  1. Davis, A.H. (ed.). Avon Bird Report, 1998. Avon Ornithological Group.
  2. Rose, Dr H.E. (ed.). Avon Bird Report, 2012. Avon Ornithological Group.
  3. Vinicombe K.E. Ring-billed Gulls in Britain and Ireland, Brit. Birds 78: 327-337, Jul. 1985.

Updated 12 December, 2013