Saturday, 26 October 2013

What a Laugh

Our walk this morning was dictated once again by the weather and with the skies looming ever darker and a light drizzle in the air, we opted for the shorter walk around Straw's Bridge. At the lake, we were presented with the usual motley collection of wildfowl including Mallards, Canada Geese and Mute Swans.  Coots and Moorhens squabbled away at the margins of the lake, while a lone sentinel Grey Heron stood on the artificial island in the middle.  Without doubt, the most numerous birds were the Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) which made their presence known in their usual fashion by squawking loudly.
A strikingly beautiful bird, particularly in their winter plumage, their scientific name ridibundus derives from ridere - to laugh and when you hear their calls, it's not difficult to understand the derivation.  This gull was being particularly cooperative in standing still long enough for me to grab a few shots.
The black head (not actually black, but a deep, chocolate brown), has gone now, leaving behind the tell-tale dark smudge behind the birds' eye.  With their blood-red bill and legs and the silver-grey back feathers, this is a common bird which deserves to be better appreciated.  With an over-wintering population of around 2.2 million individuals, they are always easy to find.
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