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Herring gull (Larus argentatus)

The following has been adapted from original text by Brian Madden and Stephen F. Newton in Seabird Populations of Britain and Ireland (with permission from A&C Black, London).

 

The Herring gull breeds mainly in north and west Europe. It is widely distributed around the coasts of the British Isles, and prefers to nest on rocky coastline, with cliffs, islets and offshore islands, though a range of other habitats are used including sand dunes, shingle banks and, increasingly, rooftops of buildings in urban areas. A small proportion of the population nests inland, mainly on lake islands and moorland. The Herring gull is an opportunist feeder, being both predator and scavenger. While primarily a coastal feeder, it readily takes advantage of the often abundant food supplies available indirectly from man, especially waste from the fishing industry and landfill sites. Outside of the breeding season, herring gulls are common along coastlines and inshore waters but also occur inland.

Conservation status

Herring gull is currently identified as a conservation priority in the following:

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International importance

UK Population

Biogeographic Population

% World Population

139,200 AON*

18.5

12.1

*AON = Apparently Occupied Nests

The UK population figure (rounded to the nearest hundred) was derived from data in Mitchell, P.I., Newton, S.F., Ratcliffe, N. and Dunn, T.E. (eds.) 2004. Seabird Populations of Britain and Ireland. Poyser, London. This was also the source of figures for the Biogeographic and World populations.

Note: The UK population figure above includes data from both inland and coastal colonies and hence differs from that tabled below.

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UK population estimates and change 1969–2002 (census data)

Seabird 2000 represents the first attempt to census all inland breeding colonies of herring gulls. However, only 1% of herring gulls in the UK breed away from the coast. Coverage in Seabird 2000, although not complete, was comprehensive across the different colony types and all major colonies and breeding areas were counted. A review found the following urban areas were not surveyed: inland Durham and some large roof-nesting colonies in Dumfries (Dumfries and Galloway), Jarrow (Northumberland), Sunderland and South Shields (Tyne and Wear) and in Dover, Folkestone and Cheriton (all Kent) were also missed. Elsewhere, coverage of roof-nesting gulls was good, abetted by aerial surveys in places like south Wales, Gloucester, Glasgow and Inverness. At most colonies, apparently occupied nests (AON) were counted. However, at some colonies, flush counts of individuals attending the colony were made and then divided by two to provide a rough measure of the number of AON. This is the least accurate method for censusing breeding gulls, as such counts will include an unknown percentage of non-breeders and attendance at the colony by both members of a pair is highly variable throughout the day and throughout the breeding season. During Seabird 2000, only 4% of the population estimate for the UK was obtained from counts of individuals, compared to 6% during the SCR Census (1985-88). Hence the estimates from the two censuses are comparable in terms of the methods used. In mixed colonies, generally shared with lesser black-backed gulls, the determination of the proportion of a count to assign to a particular species provides a further potential source of error, as the eggs of the two species cannot be readily distinguished. In all but the smallest colonies it was recommended that the proportion of herring gulls is determined from sample head counts representative of the colony as a whole.

 

Operation Seafarer    

(1969-70)

Seabird Colony Register    

(1985-88)

Seabird 2000    

(1998–2002)

UK Population estimate (AON*)

285,929

149,197

130,230

Inland numbers

-

-

1,960

Total Figure

-

-

132,190

% change since previous census   

n/a

-48

-13

*AON = Apparently Occupied Nests

Note: Inland colonies were not counted during the first two national censuses, so, to enable direct comparison, the percentage change refers to coastal colonies only.

For census results for individual countries and Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man see under relevant sections below.

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Distribution/abundance

The Seabird 2000 census provides the most comprehensive recent assessment of the distribution and abundance of breeding seabirds. Numbers of herring gull found in different regions, and a map showing the locations and size of colonies, is provided in the Seabird 2000 herring gull results page.

The locations sampled during the annual Seabird Monitoring Programme provide some information on distribution and are accessible via the Seabird Monitoring Programme online database.

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Annual abundance and productivity by geographical area

With reference to the regional accounts below please note the following:

Breeding abundance: graphs of abundance index with 95% confidence limits are only shown for a region where the trend produced has been deemed accurate (see methods of analysis). Where a trend was thought to be inaccurate, graphs of abundance at major colonies in a region may be shown instead, particularly if such colonies hold greater than 10% of the regional population, are monitored frequently and may thus help illustrate regional population fluctuations outwith national censuses. Occasionally, too few data have been collected regionally to produce either of these.

Productivity: graphs of productivity are only shown if analysis of breeding success data produced a significant result for regional and/or year effects (again see methods of analysis). If results were not significant, then a regional mean productivity value is given. However, on some occasions, too few data are available from which to provide a meaningful average. Furthermore, for 11 species where the quality of monitoring data available was considered high, population viability analysis was undertaken at the UK level and the results of this are also reported.

 

Breeding abundance

herring-gull-uk-ab.jpg

Figure 1. Trend in abundance index (solid line) of natural-nesting herring gulls in the UK, 1986–2018 with 95% confidence limits (dotted lines). This abundance trend excludes urban nesting gulls from the sample and, therefore, may not be representative of trends in the entire UK population. Based on SMP data; view the methods of analysis.

Note: 'Natural-nesting' is defined as moors, cliffs, marshes, beaches and other areas of semi-natural habitat, while 'urban-nesting' is defined as human-built structures.

 

There are uncertainties as to how representative the SMP sample is of the entire UK herring gull breeding population (i.e. natural and urban-nesting herring gulls combined), as only a relatively low proportion of the sample comes from the urban nesting population (6% average per-annum over the sampling range). We, consequently, have low confidence in the ability of SMP sample data to predict trends in the entire UK herring gull population and do not, therefore, include a combined urban and natural nesting population trend in this report (Table 1). Census data should, therefore, be solely used for this purpose.

UK census data, where each census is a complete count of all known colonies at that time, indicate coastal nesting herring gulls decreased by 48% from 1969-70 (285,900 pairs) to 1985-88 (149,200 pairs), with a continuing decline, albeit at a slower rate (-13%), between the 1985-88 and 1998–2002 censuses (130,230 pairs).

After the Seabird Colony Register Census, natural nesting abundance decreased until 1992, after which it increased to 4% below the baseline value in 2000. The index then fell to its lowest ever value in 2015, 60% below the 1986 baseline. Since then it has been fluctuating and in 2018 was 48% below the baseline (Figure 1).

At the time of the Seabird 2000 census, approximately 14% of the UK herring gull population nested on buildings, compared to natural habitats; a proportion and total number that increased from 19761 (when just 63 pairs nested on roofs) to 1993-952 (10,900) and 1998–2002 (20,000)3. The abundant food supply in urban areas provided by street litter and insecure refuse bags/bins, combined with abundant safe nesting sites, has probably encouraged this increase2. We do not know the current size of the urban nesting gull population.

The decrease in the coastal natural nesting herring gull population may be indicative of decline in the entire UK breeding population, although this will not be known until a new census, which includes natural and urban nesting gulls, has been undertaken. The reasons for the apparent decline in the natural nesting population are not well understood. Botulism is thought to have been a major factor in the decline between the first two censuses and possibly thereafter; refuse tips may have been the source of the Clostridium botulinum bacterium that caused the disease, which also is widespread in wetland sediments3. A decrease in the availability of food scavenged from refuse tips (associated with changes in refuse management in recent years)3; and reductions in the availability of discards from fisheries5,6 may have also contributed to a decrease in the natural nesting herring gull population. Ground predators have also had an effect at some colonies7.


Productivity

herring-gull-uk-prod.jpg

Figure 2. Trend in UK productivity (no. of chicks fledged per pair) of natural-nesting herring gull 1986–2018. This productivity trend excludes urban nesting gulls from the sample and therefore, may not be representative of trends in the entire UK population. Based on SMP data; view the methods of analysis.

Although there were large fluctuations in UK natural-nesting herring gull productivity between 1989 and 1999, there does appear to be an underlying declining trend during this period. Between 2000 and 2010, productivity improved and was relatively stable, although never high, with an average of 0.60 chicks fledged per pair annually. In 2011, productivity declined to 0.36 then recovered to 0.64 by 2014. In 2015, productivity declined to its lowest level since sampling began (0.31) although, by 2018 had increased again to 0.53 chicks fledged per pair.

Analysis of the SMP dataset found that mean productivity of herring gulls at monitored nests was 0.75 and declined at a rate of 0.016 chicks per nest per year8. This equated to a decline of 31% over the study period 1986–2008. The quality of the existing dataset meant a change in breeding success greater than 10% could be detected with confidence. Population viability analysis (using available life history information such as population size, clutch size, age at first breeding and survival rates of different age classes) predicted that, were this rate of success to be maintained, herring gull populations would decline by 60% over 25 years. For the population to stabilise, breeding success would have to increase to 1.30–1.50 chicks per nest per year. Declines in productivity are often due to the depredation of eggs and young.

 

Scotland

Population estimates and change 1969–2002 (census data)

 

Operation Seafarer    

(1969-70)

Seabird Colony Register    

(1985-88)

Seabird 2000    

(1998–2002)

Population estimate (AON*)

159,237

92,950

71,659

Inland numbers

-

-

471

Total Figure

-

-

72,130

% change since previous census   

n/a

-42

-23

*AON = Apparently Occupied Nests

Note: Inland colonies were not counted during the first two national censuses, so, to enable direct comparison, the percentage change refers to coastal colonies only.

 

Breeding abundance

herring-gull-scotland-ab.jpg

Figure 3. Trend in abundance index (solid line) of natural-nesting herring gulls in Scotland, 1986–2018 with 95% confidence limits (dotted lines). This abundance trend excludes urban nesting gulls from the sample and, therefore, may not be representative of trends in the entire UK population. Based on SMP data; view the methods of analysis.

The number of herring gulls nesting in coastal areas of Scotland declined severely between 1969-70 and 1998-2002. National census data show -42% of the population disappeared between Operation Seafarer and the Seabird Colony Register with a further decline of 23% by the time of Seabird 2000. Due to urban colonies being surveyed infrequently, no trend for the entire herring gull population in Scotland (i.e. urban and natural nesting combined) can be generated from data submitted to the SMP.

In Scotland, the index in Figure 3 shows a steady decline in natural nesting herring gull abundance to 56% below the 1986 baseline in 2009. Since then, the abundance index has fluctuated, although has remained well below the baseline. In 2015, the index fell to 62%, the lowest value recorded since herring gull monitoring began. In 2018, the index had recovered slightly but was still at 42% below the baseline.

A suite of 130 natural-nesting herring gull colonies counted in 2018 held 10,433 AON/AOT, compared to 16,076 AON/AOT during Seabird 2000 – a decline of 35%. These colonies only represent around 40% of the overall population counted during Seabird 2000, although may give an indication of the trend in the natural-nesting herring gull population of Scotland.

At the last census, Scotland held the second largest proportion of urban roof-nesting gulls within the UK (33.0%). Numbers nesting on buildings in towns and cities increased from 19761 (55 pairs) to 1993–19952 (3,568 pairs) and to 1998–2002 (5,843 pairs)3. The current number of urban nesting gulls in Scotland is unknown but is likely to have increased in some areas. Very few urban areas have been surveyed since the last census, so no meaningful summary can be provided to indicate if herring gulls are increasing or decreasing in these areas.

 

Productivity

herring-gull-scotland-prod.jpg

Figure 4. Trend in productivity (no. of chicks fledged per pair) of natural-nesting herring gulls in Scotland, 1989-2018. This productivity trend excludes urban nesting gulls from the sample and, therefore, may not be representative of trends in the entire UK population. Based on SMP data; view the methods of analysis.

 

The trend in productivity for natural-nesting herring gull in Scotland closely matches that of the UK because 84% of the data have been collected at Scottish colonies. Most information on productivity of natural-nesting herring gull in Scotland comes from a study of the effects of American mink control on the breeding success of gulls and terns on west coast islands. This introduced mammal can have a significant depressive effect on breeding success, although usually not to the same extent as that seen for common gull. Herring gull productivity data collected from this study area between 1996 and 2013 found colonies with successful mink control fledged an average of 0.91 chicks per pair per year, compared to 0.61 at colonies with no, or unsuccessful, mink control; so, on average, mink lowered breeding success by 33% (range 0-71%). In 2014, success at these two groups of colonies was 0.99 and 0.58 chicks fledged per pair, respectively – a reduction of 41% due to the effects of American mink4. Trapping, specifically targeting colonies where the American mink are most active, has helped to raise the number of young fledged over at least the last decade and thus may be one of the causes of the upward trend in productivity visible in Figure 4 since the late 1990s. Predation of herring gull chicks by other gulls has also been responsible for reduced productivity on the Isle of May9.

 

England

Population estimates and change 1969–2002 (census data)

 

Operation Seafarer    

(1969-70)

Seabird Colony Register    

(1985-88)

Seabird 2000    

(1998–2002)

Population estimate (AON*)

62,114

27,597

43,932

Inland numbers

-

-

1,433

Total Figure

-

-

45,365

% change since previous census   

n/a

-56

+59

*AON = Apparently Occupied Nests

Note: Inland colonies were not counted during the first two national censuses, so, to enable direct comparison, the percentage change refers to coastal colonies only.

 

Breeding abundance

herring-gull-england-ab.jpg

Figure 5. Trend in abundance index (solid line) of natural-nesting herring gull in England, 1986–2018 with 95% confidence limits (dotted lines). Based on SMP data; view the methods of analysis.

 

In common with Scotland and Wales, the natural nesting coastal herring gull population in England declined greatly between the censuses of 1969-70 and 1985-88. By Seabird 2000 (1998–2002), although the population had increased, numbers were still some 18,000 pairs lower than recorded during the 1969-70 census.

The SMP abundance trend (Figure 5) indicates that the natural-nesting herring gull population in England declined until the early 90s but then recovered to a maximum of 22% above the 1986 baseline in 1994. Herring gulls maintained positive index values until 2000, then plummeted to 46% below the baseline in 2001. Index values continued to decline and reached their lowest value of 79% below the 1996 baseline in 2016, although improved slightly in 2017 and 2018 to 78% and 68% below the baseline respectively. A suite of 74 colonies counted in 2018 held 7,441 AON/AOT compared to 17,614 AON/AOT during Seabird 2000 – a decline of 58%. These colonies comprise around 10% of the overall population counted during Seabird 2000 and may, therefore, not be representative of what is happening to the entire natural-nesting herring gull population in England.

At the last census, England held the largest proportion of urban roof-nesting gulls within the UK (59.7%). The number of roof-nesters has increased greatly, from 1,960 pairs in 19761 to 6,383 pairs in 1993-95 and to 12,284 pairs by Seabird 20003. However, the current size of the urban population is unknown, though recent increases have been documented in towns in south-west and north-west England.


Productivity

Relatively few data are available on the productivity of natural-nesting herring gulls at English colonies hence a valid trend could not be generated.

 

Wales

Population estimates and change 1969–2002 (census data)

 

Operation Seafarer    

(1969-70)

Seabird Colony Register    

(1985-88)

Seabird 2000    

(1998–2002)

Population estimate (AON*)

48,576

11,089

13,930

Inland numbers

-

-

44

Total Figure

-

-

13,974

% change since previous census   

n/a

-77

+26

*AON = Apparently Occupied Nests

Note: Inland colonies were not counted during the first two national censuses, so, to enable direct comparison, the percentage change refers to coastal colonies only.

 

Breeding abundance

herring-gull-wales-ab.jpg

Figure 6. Trend in abundance index (solid line) of natural-nesting herring gulls in Wales, 1986–2018 with 95% confidence limits (dotted lines). This abundance trend excludes urban nesting gulls from the sample and, therefore, may not be representative of trends in the entire UK population. Based on SMP data; view the methods of analysis.

 

Coastal herring gull numbers fell by 77% in Wales between Operation Seafarer and the Seabird Colony Register and, although a subsequent increase of 26% was recorded by Seabird 2000, numbers were still 34,600 AON lower than in 1969-70. Natural-nesters decreased in the late 1980s but began increasing again in the early 1990s until 2000. The trend fluctuated above the 1986 baseline until 2014 and then dropped below from 2015 (-13%; Figure 6) to 2018 (-20%). In 2018, a suite of 125 colonies were counted which held 5,945 AON compared to 6,769 during Seabird 2000, a decline of 12%. This sample represents just over 50% of the natural-nesting population counted during Seabird 2000 and, therefore, may be indicative of the current state of the Welsh population.

Urban roof-nesting herring gulls in Wales increased from 772 pairs in 1993-951 to 1,826 pairs in Seabird 20003. In 2011, a survey of urban gulls in Cardiff recorded 640 AON. This represents a remarkable change in fortunes as previous estimates indicated 425 AON in 1975, four pairs in 1993 and none during Seabird 2000 (1998–2002).

 

Productivity

herring-gull-wales-prod.jpg

Figure 7. Trend in productivity (no. of chicks fledged per pair) of natural-nesting herring gulls in Wales, 1989–2018. This productivity trend excludes urban nesting gulls from the sample and, therefore, may not be representative of trends in the entire UK population. Based on SMP data; view the methods of analysis.

 

Productivity of natural-nesting herring gulls at colonies in Wales has been declining since 1994. Birds were very successful in that year, with productivity at 1.43 chicks per pair but between 1998 and 2018 herring gulls have typically fledged less than 0.60 chicks per pair (Figure 7). Unfortunately, the reasons for this continued decline in productivity are unknown.

 

Northern Ireland

Population estimates and change 1969–2002 (census data)

 

Operation Seafarer    

(1969-70)

Seabird Colony Register    

(1985-88)

Seabird 2000    

(1998–2002)

Population estimate (AON*)

16,002

17,561

709

Inland numbers

-

-

12

Total Figure

-

-

721

% change since previous census   

n/a

+10

-96

*AON = Apparently Occupied Nests

Note: Inland colonies were not counted during the first two national censuses, so, to enable direct comparison, the percentage change refers to coastal colonies only.

 

Breeding abundance

Between Operation Seafarer and the Seabird Colony Register, herring gull numbers in Northern Ireland were buoyant when populations in the rest of the UK and in the Republic of Ireland were falling. The subsequent massive decline of 96% left just 709 AON by Seabird 2000. Botulism has been suspected as the main cause for large losses at some colonies (e.g. Rathlin Island, the Copeland Islands and Strangford Lough). An abundance trend for natural-nesting herring gulls in Northern Ireland could not be generated based on insufficient count data submitted to the SMP. There might have been a slight recovery in the population since 2007 which may, in part, be due to increases at Copeland Islands and Strangford Lough, which increased by 302% (from 90 to 483 AON) and 437% (from 264 to 1,061 AON) respectively between 2005 and 2018.

In 2018, a vantage-point survey of Belfast city centre and harbour from two of the tallest buildings found at least 16 AON11, however, this did not include the rooftops of the harbour area. A few other breeding locations, such as Carrickfergus and Antrim, were reported but no accurate numbers were recorded, however, it appears that the Northern Ireland urban nesting populations may be increasing.

 

Productivity

Data submitted to the SMP on the productivity of herring gulls in Northern Ireland are sparse; thus, no meaningful average productivity value is given.

 

Republic of Ireland

Population estimates and change 1969–2018 (census data)

 

Operation Seafarer    

(1969-70)

Seabird Colony Register    

(1985-88)

Seabird 2000    

(1998–2002)

Republic of Ireland Census

(2015-18)

Population estimate (AON*)

43,710

15,255

5,411

10,333

Inland numbers

-

-

103

-

Total Figure

-

-

5,514

-

% change since previous census   

n/a

-65

-64

+87

*AON = Apparently Occupied Nests

Note: Inland colonies were not counted during the first two national censuses, so, to enable direct comparison, the percentage change refers to coastal colonies only.

 

Breeding abundance

National census data show that the Republic of Ireland herring gull population declined between Operation Seafarer and the Seabird Colony Register censuses by 65% fall, with a further decline of 64% by the time of Seabird 2000. The recent Irish Seabird Census (2015–2018) recorded a total of 10,333 AON, an increase of 87% since Seabird 200013. A few colonies not counted during Seabird 2000 (e.g. at Roaringwater Bay), are now holding notable numbers. However, it is not clear if these are newly established colonies or are previously undetected ones13.

The current status of the urban nesting herring gull population in the Republic of Ireland is unknown, as no counts have been carried out at urban colonies since Seabird 2000 when they held 209 AON.

 

Productivity

Data submitted to the SMP on the productivity of herring gulls in the Republic of Ireland are sparse; thus, no meaningful average productivity value is given.

 

All Ireland

Population estimates and change 1969–2002 (census data)

 

Operation Seafarer    

(1969-70)

Seabird Colony Register    

(1985-88)

Seabird 2000    

(1998–2002)

Population estimate (AON*)

59,712

32,816

6,120

Inland numbers

-

-

115

Total Figure

-

-

6,235

% change since previous census   

n/a

-45

-81

*AON = Apparently Occupied Nests

Note: Inland colonies were not counted during the first two national censuses, so, to enable direct comparison, the percentage change refers to coastal colonies only.

 

Breeding abundance

National census data showed that herring gull numbers in the whole of Ireland declined severely between Operation Seafarer and Seabird 2000, although numbers in Northern Ireland were actually stable between the first two censuses. Data submitted to the SMP on the abundance of herring gulls from colonies across Ireland are sparse and, as such, it is not possible to produce an annual trend which is representative of the population.

In Northern Ireland, botulism was suspected to be the main cause for the large losses seen at some colonies (e.g. Copeland Islands and Strangford Lough), although increases at these colonies since 2005 may be indicative of a wider recovery in the Northern Ireland breeding population. The recent Republic of Ireland Seabird Census (2015–2018) recorded a total of 10,333 herring gull AON, an increase of 87% compared to Seabird 200013 and, as such, it is likely that the natural nesting population in the whole of Ireland has increased since Seabird 2000.

The urban-breeding herring gull populations in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are also likely to have increased since Seabird 2000, although this cannot be confirmed until an urban gull census is completed.

 

Productivity

Data submitted to the SMP on the productivity of herring gulls throughout Ireland are sparse; thus, no meaningful productivity value is given.

 

Isle of Man

Population estimates and change 1969–2018 (census data)

 

Operation Seafarer    

(1969-70)

Seabird Colony Register    

(1985-88)

Seabird 2000    

(1998–2002)

Isle of Man Census

(2017-18)

Population estimate (AON*)

9,875

9,064

6,937

1,033

Inland numbers

-

-

-

-

Total Figure

-

-

-

-

% change since previous census   

n/a

-8

-30

-90

*AON = Apparently Occupied Nests

Note: Inland colonies were not counted during the first two national censuses, so, to enable direct comparison, the percentage change refers to coastal colonies only.

 

Breeding abundance

herring-gull-iom-ab.jpg

Figure 8. Abundance of herring gull on the Calf of Man, 1986–2017.

 

Between Operation Seafarer and the Seabird Colony Register there was a decline of 8% in the number of herring gulls nesting on the Isle of Man. A larger decline then occurred so that by Seabird 2000 numbers had fallen a further 30% to 6,937 AON. In 2017, a census of the Isle of Man recorded 1,033 herring gull AON, representing a decline of 90% since Seabird 200015. The Calf of Man is the only colony that has been surveyed regularly since Seabird 2000 and reflects the declines seen in the Isle of Man herring gull population (Figure 8).

 

Productivity

No systematic data on the productivity of herring gulls on the Isle of Man have been submitted to the SMP.

 

Channel Islands

Population estimates and change 1969–2018 (census data)

 

Operation Seafarer    

(1969-70)

Seabird Colony Register    

(1985-88)

Seabird 2000    

(1998–2002)

Channel Islands Census

(2015-16)

Population estimate (AON*)

3,970

3,551

4,347

2,257

Inland numbers

-

-

0

-

Total Figure

-

-

4,347

-

% change since previous census   

n/a

-11

+22

-48

*AON = Apparently Occupied Nests

Note: Inland colonies were not counted during the first two national censuses, so, to enable direct comparison, the percentage change refers to coastal colonies only.

 

Breeding abundance

In common with other areas of Britain and Ireland, the number of herring gulls breeding in the Channel Islands declined between Operation Seafarer and the Seabird Colony Register, although the size of this fall, a decline of 11%, was less severe. Numbers then increased by 22% between the Seabird Colony Register and Seabird 2000.

A breeding seabird census of the Channel Islands in 2015-16 recorded a total of 2,257 herring gull AON, representing a decrease of 48% since Seabird 200016.

 

Productivity

Data submitted to the SMP on the productivity of herring gulls in the Channel Islands are sparse; thus, no meaningful average productivity value is given.

 

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UK phenology, diet, survival rates

Phenology

No systematic data on phenology (timing of life-cycle events) have been collected as part of the SMP.

 

Diet

No systematic data on diet have been collected as part of the SMP.

 

Survival rate

The only herring gull adult survival rate data submitted to the SMP comes from Skomer in Wales. Figure 9 shows there has been an overall decline in survival since 2000, although it recovered briefly to a peak of 97% in 2014. The most recent annual survival estimate (2016-17: 75%) was lower than the average over the study period (1978-2016: 82%). The extent to which this trend is representative of the UK as a whole is not known.

 

HG adult survival Skomer.jpg

Figure 9. Estimated adult survival rate of herring gull on Skomer, 1986–2017.

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References

1 Monaghan, P. and Coulson, J.C. 1977. Status of Large Gulls Nesting on Buildings, Bird Study, 24(2), 89–104.

2 Raven, S.J. and Coulson, J.C. 1997. The distribution and abundance of Larus gulls nesting on buildings in Britain and Ireland. Bird Study, 44, 13–34.

3 Madden, B. and Newton, S.F. 2004. Herring Gull Larus argentatus. In: Mitchell, P.I., Newton, S.F., Ratcliffe, N. and Dunn, T.E. (eds.) 2004. Seabird Populations of Britain and Ireland: 242–262. Poyser, London.

4 Coulson, J.C. 2019. Gulls. New Naturalist 139. Harper Collins, London.

5 Furness, R.W., Ensor, K. and Hudson, A.V. 1992. The use of fishery waste by gull populations around the Britain and Ireland. Ardea, 80, 105–113.

6 Bicknell, A.W. J., Oro, D., Camphuysen, J.C. and Votier, S.C. 2013. Potential consequences of discard reform for seabird communities. Journal of Applied Ecology, 50, 649–658.

7 Craik, J.C.A. 2015. Results of the mink-seabird project in 2014. Unpublished Report, Scottish Association for Marine Science, Oban.

8 Cook, A.S.C.P. and Robinson, R.A. 2010. How representative is the current monitoring of breeding success in the UK? BTO Research Report, No. 573, British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford.

10 Sellers, R.M. and Shackleton, D. 2011. Numbers, distribution and population trends of large gulls breeding in Cumbria, northwest England. Seabird, 24, 90–102.

11 Booth Jones, K.A. and Wolsey, S. 2019. The Northern Ireland Seabird Report 2018. British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford.

12 O’Hanlon, N.J., McGill, R.A.R. and Nager, R.G. 2017. Increased use of intertidal resources benefits breeding success in a generalist gull species. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 574, 193–210.

13 Cummins, S., Lewis, L.J. and Egan, S. 2016. Life on the Edge - Seabird and Fisheries in Irish Waters. A BirdWatch Ireland Report.

14 Roughan and O’Donovan 2018. Nesting Gulls Populations in Balbriggan, Skerries and Howth Co Dublin. Report produced by Roughan and O’Donovan Consulting Engineers for Fingal County Council. December 2018.

15 Hill, R.W., Morris, N. G., Bowman, and K. A., Wright, D. 2019. The Isle of Man Seabird Census: Report on the census of breeding seabirds in the Isle of Man 2017-18. Manx BirdLife. Laxey, Isle of Man.

16 Veron, M. and Veron, C. 2016. Seabird Count 2015; monitoring the status of Guernsey’s Seabirds. La Société Transactions, Channel Islands.

17 Stubbings, E.M., Büche, B.I., Riordan, J.A.,Baker, B. and Wood, M.J. 2018. Seabird monitoring on Skomer Island in 2018. Unpublished JNCC Report. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough.

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Partners

Data have been provided to the SMP by the generous contributions of its partners, other organisations and volunteers throughout Britain and Ireland. Partners to the SMP are: BirdWatch Ireland; The British Trust for Ornithology; UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology; Natural Resources Wales; Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (Isle of Man); Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Republic of Ireland); States of Guernsey Government; JNCC; Manx Birdlife; Manx National Heritage; The National Trust; National Trust for Scotland; Natural England; Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs; The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds; Scottish Natural Heritage; Seabird Group; Shetland Oil Terminal Environmental Advisory Group; Scottish Wildlife Trust. More about the SMP partners >>

 

Image of Herring gull appears courtesy of Ian Rendall ©, is subject to international copyright law and may not be reproduced in any form whatsoever.

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SMP Report 1986–2018

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