Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Royal icing

I could not resist another lunchtime trip to the royal park of Holyrood. Once again the Iceland Gull was up at Dunsapie and performing well. It was struggling against the competitors but at one point I see that it managed a small morsel of bread.

Interestingly it started calling at one point - like a typical Herring Gull begging call but higher pitched and thinner, certainly lacking in the harsh elements of typical large gull calls. Then I realised that the bird did appear to be begging - it had adopted a low hunched posture with upturned bill and was steadily pursuing a Herring Gull

While this hunched posture is used by young gulls as a submissive appeasement behaviour, it is also part of the food begging repertoire of most species - it certainly looked like begging. A good idea perhaps, but it didn't do the trick - the sub-adult Herring Gull (maybe confused by the appearance of an instant offspring) vacated the area.

What a great bird - here are a few more shots...


welchs said...

Hmmm, looks like it's hungry then - I have often seen juv HG begging mid-winter even into spring but have always presumed the adult targets are actually their parents, perhaps not?

Morg said...

Yes, I'd have assumed that as well. In this case I thought that the head of this 3CY HG looked a little like an adult Iceland gull (very pale eye, streaked head, bright bill) and acted as a sign stimulus to start the begging response?