Lesser Black-Backed Gull Rescue

A little bit of a wildlife adventure today. On my way back to work after lunch I noticed a lesser black-backed gull resting on a grass bank outside the medical school building. It seemed fairly relaxed, and wasn’t in any apparent distress, but it was odd to see it there. Like the more numerous herring gulls, the adults should be busy flying patrols and feeding their chicks (there are two lesser black-backed chicks on the med school roof). It was struggling to raise itself up and I thought perhaps it had injured a leg. Other than that it looked ok to my untrained eye.

I took a number of photos before heading back to my office.

Lesser black-backed gull

Lesser black-backed gull at the University of Brighton Falmer site.

Lesser black-backed gull

Lesser black-backed gull

Lesser black-backed gull

Lesser black-backed gull

As I said, I’d assumed it would recover and make its way back to its roost, but I did check later on and it was still there mid afternoon and, if anything, was more placid than earlier. Something clearly wasn’t right. I made a quick phone call to a local rescue centre who asked if I could bring it in, and explained to me how best to transport it.

A quick email across the site secured the loan of a sturdy plastic storage box and lid. Pop the box over the top of the gull, slide the lid underneath and secure with tape. Then a five minute drive and the gull was safely delivered to the wildlife centre. They took one look and diagnosed botulism poisoning (an occupational hazard for gulls) which they are confident they can treat successfully.

So a good outcome it seems, for this bird at least. And some decent photos of one of my favourite gulls.

Lesser black-backed gull

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 7D Mark II and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens.

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  1. Darko July 10, 2015 at 12:56 am #

    Good that you were there to notice that. Many people probably just passed by not even thinking that something might be wrong!

    • Words July 10, 2015 at 11:03 pm #

      Darko, there were other reports to the rescue centre as well, but I know them well there so it was easy for me to do. And photographing them so often, I feel a bit of responsibility to them. 🙂

  2. Adele July 11, 2015 at 8:17 am #

    Excellent – glad you were able to rescue it. We’ve got a family of lesser blacked gulls at the court which are allegedly swooping on people, although I’ve seen them several times without a problem. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/barristers-and-judges-told-to-beware-swooping-seagulls-at-royal-courts-of-justice-10379363.html

    • Darko July 11, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

      Adele, that happened to me the other day with a couple of crows. I was going to work and they were swooping on me for about 50 meters, until I finally left the area where they were, probably, having a nest. Fun and scary at the same time 😀

      • Adele July 12, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

        Yes, I can imagine! I wouldn’t like to argue with one crow, let alone two.

      • Words July 12, 2015 at 10:32 pm #

        Agree, crows can be fearsome!

    • Words July 12, 2015 at 10:32 pm #

      Adele, good to see that they are still active near the Thames. I used to watch lesser black-backeds at London Bridge. Those wigs must look awfully like nest material 😉

      • Adele July 13, 2015 at 7:43 pm #


      • Darko July 16, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

        Hahahaha 😀