Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus


Slightly smaller than a Herring Gull, the Lesser Black-backed Gull has a dark grey back and wings, yellow bill and yellow legs. Their world population is found entirely in Europe. After declines in the 19th century due to persecution they increased their range and numbers. This expansion has now halted and there is serious concern about declines in many parts of its range. The species is on the Amber List because the UK is home to 40% of the European population and more than half of these are found at fewer than ten sites. The call is a "laughing" cry like that of the Herring Gull (to which this species is closely related), but with a markedly deeper pitch.

Identification difficulty

Found around the UK's coastline in summer and on some inland high moors. The biggest UK colony is on Walney Island, Cumbria with a staggering one third of the UK population. They are increasingly common in urban habitats, even in inland locations such as the West Midlands. In winter it is mainly found from southern Scotland southwards, and is best looked for feeding over fields and at rubbish tips, congregating at large reservoir roosts each evening.

When to see it

All year round. UK breeding sites are left in July and August and birds start to return as early as December. Large numbers of Scandinavian birds, which are darker than UK breeding birds, start to arrive in October.

Life History

They are omnivores like most Larus gulls, and they will eat fish, insects, crustaceans, worms, starfish, molluscs, seeds, berries, small mammals, eggs, small birds, chicks, scraps, offal and carrion.

UK Status

Common and widespread in Britain particularly in coastal areas.

VC55 Status

Common in Leicestershire and Rutland as a winter bird and bird of passage.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map