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Conservation status: Amber

Slightly larger than a black-headed gull, with an all-black head in the breeding season. Adults have white wing-tips and underwings, younger birds have more wing markings. It has a large, slightly drooped beak, bright red when adult. A very rare UK bird until the 1950s, it is widespread in winter and breeding in ever increasing numbers. Its present UK breeding population makes it an Amber List species.



Latin name

Larus melanocephalus


Gulls (Laridae)

Where to see them

Mainly found along the east and south coasts of England. Most of the breeding population nest within black-headed gull colonies at coastal wetlands. More widespread in winter with some beaches in Norfolk and Kent attracting more than a hundred Mediterranean gulls. Also found inland in small numbers wherever black-headed and common Gulls gather (especially in roosts on reservoirs).

When to see them

All year round.

What they eat

Insects, fish, offal and carrion.


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-600-630 pairs1,800 birds-




Lars Krogh, Xeno-canto