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Mediterranean Gull in winter plumage
Image by bzd1
The Mediterranean Gull, Ichthyaetus melanocephalus, is a small gull which breeds almost entirely in Europe, mainly in the south east, especially around the Black Sea, and in central Turkey. There are colonies elsewhere in southern Europe, and this species has undergone a dramatic range expansion in recent decades. Birders often abbreviate its name to "Med Gull". As is the case with many gulls, it has traditionally been placed in the genus Larus.
It has colonised Britain, mainly in southern and eastern England with more than 90 pairs in 2000.
In winter, this bird migrates to Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts.
This gull breeds in colonies in large reedbeds or marshes, or on islands in lakes; where its population is small, it nests in Black-headed Gull colonies. Like most gulls, it is highly gregarious in winter, both when feeding or in evening roosts. It is not a pelagic species, and is rarely seen at sea far from coasts.
This species is 36-38 cm long with a 98-105 cm wingspan. It can be distinguished from the Black-headed Gulls with which it often associates by its slightly larger size, very pale grey plumage and thicker red bill. The summer adult has a black head; the bird's scientific name actually means "black-headed gull". The similar species Black-headed Gull actually has a chocolate-brown hood. Adults have no black in their wings. The hood is lost in winter, leaving just a streaked grey mask. Legs are red.
The Mediterranean Gull's feeding habits are much an opportunistic omnivore, eating fish, worms, scraps, insects, offal and carrion.
This bird takes two years to reach maturity. First year birds have a black terminal tail band and more black areas in the upperwings, but have pale underwings.
This is a noisy species, especially at colonies, with a nasal "yeah" call.
The Mediterranean Gull is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
Image by jurvetson
On each trip afar, I seem to find one exotic and glorious moth that I have never seen before…
Another species ID request to the flickr folk… This one is about 4" across.
Better on black
Gecko on the wall
Image by macropoulos
Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica).
Also known as Crocodile Gecko or Salamanquesa, this species is common around the Mediterranean. Their bodies are full of prominent conic tubercles and although this one was small (~5cm long) this species is known to reach a length of up to 15cm. The undersides of their toes are equipped with adhesive toe-pads along their entire length, so, to realize the position its was in when I photographed it, turn your head 90 degrees to the left :-)
Best viewed On Black, Large