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Great Black-backed Gull

Neil Bygrave (NATURELENS)

Exeter, United Kingdom

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Best viewed large :-)

Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) – Devon, UK

Canon 7D
Canon 500mm F4 L IS plus 1.4x Extender
F5.6
ISO500
1/2000th
Tripod
Manual Exposure

Text adapted from – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Black-backed...

The Great Black-backed Gull is a very large gull which breeds on the European and North American coasts and islands of the North Atlantic. It is fairly sedentary, but some Great Black-backed Gulls move farther south or inland to large lakes or reservoirs.

This is the largest gull, much bigger than a Herring Gull and is often described as the King of Gulls.

Great Black-backed Gulls are opportunistic and get most of their food from scavenging (refuse at times comprising more than half of their diet) and capturing fish. However, unlike most Larus gulls, they are highly predatory and frequently hunt and kill any prey smaller than themselves, behaving more like a raptor than a typical larid gull. They frequently rob other seabirds of their catch and have been known to follow feeding Humpback Whales, Porbeagles and Northern Bluefin Tuna to catch fish driven to the surface by the larger animals. Great Black-backed Gulls are major predators at the nesting colonies of smaller seabirds, killing and eating eggs, chicks and adult birds. Atlantic Puffins, Common Murres, Herring Gulls, Common Terns, Roseate Terns, Manx Shearwaters, Horned Grebes and Laughing Gulls are regularly culled by the Great Black-backs. They generally target chicks since they are easily found, handled, and swallowed. They can swallow puffins, terns or small ducks whole.

This species breeds singly or in small colonies, making a lined nest on the ground often on top of a rocky stack. A female lays one to three eggs. Young Great Black-backed Gulls leave the nest area at 50 days of age and may remain with their parents for months afterwards, though most fledglings choose to congregate with other immature gulls in the search for food. The Bald Eagle and White-tailed Eagle are the only birds that take healthy, fully grown Great Black-backed Gulls. Killer whales and sharks also prey upon adult birds.

The maximum recorded age for a wild Great Black-backed Gull is 27.1 years.

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