BIRDS OF ICELAND : Larus marinus, Great Black-backed gull

Larus marinus;  the Great Black-backed Gull is a large and conspicuous gull. The very black back and upper wing parts are characteristic. However there is a very similar specie: the lesser black-backed gull . Outdoors, it is very tricky to rely on sizes if one doesn't have comparisons. They can though easily be distinguished by the rose legs and feet of the "great" in comparison to yellow of the "lesser". Also the black of the "great" is deeper, while the "lesser" tends to be more greyish-black. Finally the wing tips of the "great" is clearly white spotted, appearing as bands of black and white when it has the wings retracted on the ground. In the "lesser" this feature is vague. On Iceland they are common all along the coast, but more common in the south. In Europe they breed along the Kola and Scandinavian Atlantic coast and the northern areas of the British Isles. However non-breeders can be found more south and winter migrants can be found as far south as the southern Spanish coast. It generally breeds on top of cliffs in between rocks and grass tussocks. It is known to be a fierce hunter of youngsters of other bird species. However, their diet is quite variable depending very much what is on offer.

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A brief introduction to Iceland birds
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk
- unless stated otherwise

 a Great Black-backed Gull couple with 1 full grown chicken
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 Couple & full grown chick

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