For the latest in our focus on collective names of wildlife, I take a look at some of our commonest and most familiar birds: gulls. Before I get any comments about the title of this blog, it has been deliberately chosen to pay homage to the 80s pop band of the same name!
As many birdwatchers will point out, there is no such thing as a seagull. By which we mean that no gull is called a seagull, and most gulls are just as likely to be found inland for least part of the year as they are at sea. Ironically, the most marine of all the British gull species doesn't even have the word gull in its name. That's the kittiwake, a bird that nests exclusively on the coast and is very rarely seen inland. If you look at the scientific names of gulls there is one that translates as "marine gull" and that's a great black-backed gull, Larus marinus.
Great black-backed gulls who's scientific name translates as marine gull (or seagull)
Most of the collective names associated with gulls are more usually attributed to seagulls rather than specifically to gulls, so I'm listing all the options here. It's also very appropriate to focus on gulls at the moment as there are big flocks of passage common gulls and nesting black-headed gulls as well as Mediterranean, herring, lesser and great black-backed gulls and kittiwakes using the Scrape.
In the case of gulls, the term a flock of gulls is also very appropriate as this is one of the four collective names. So too, is a colony of gulls. The latter applies to breeding gulls, the former is more relevant to gulls flying over, roosting, or feeding on school playing fields.
The other two collective names both relate to the sound of a noisy flock of gulls. A screech of gulls will resonant with many people who have been woken by gulls in seaside towns and around other urban colonies. And if you have spent any time watching gulls then you will quickly recognise the relevance of a squabble of gulls.
Why not visit us this week to enjoy the spectacle of a screeching colony of squabbling gulls?
These two aren't squabbling, but they were certainly screeching!
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