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Swallow Tale Gull ?

By accipiter  
Thank you for all the very positive comments and clicks on my Geese upload and very special thanks to Ken(Franken), Ann (EAS) and lin(Sweetpea62) for their UA's and to Flamesworddragon for the guest editor award.
I have had no time to do much this week but managed to get out to Ham Wall yesterday afternoon. Appalling weather and very little happening other than a nice flyby by a large family of Gadwall. Then I noticed what I thought was a Herring gull pulling something onto one of the platforms that have been put out for birds to rest on.
This 'something' seemed to be a young Moorhen (dead) and the gull stomped around pulling at the carcass (V1) for a while then picked it up by the head (V2) and tried to swallow it whole (V3).
He did not succeed as it got stuck at the pelvis and he regurgitated the whole bird. He tried this on six successive occasions and failed each time but in between was picking and pulling at the carcass.
On the seventh try he managed to get the dead moorhen past the pelvis by dint of some squats and knee bends (V4 and v5) and stomping and jumping around.
Eventually the whole bird was inside the Gulls crop and throat but the feet wouldn't fit (V6).
The gull then sat for about half an hour resting, apparently unconcerned, with the moorhens feet sticking out of it's mouth and one foot up.
He then tried some more maneuvers and the feet finally disappeared (V7 and V8)).
I don't think any of the shots are particularly great but the experience was instructive and amusing - and when I got home I checked on the Gull because of his very bright yellow legs and very large red bill spot. Apparently there is a species called a Yellow legged Gull, which occurs in the South of the country in summer, that fits these criteria - I would love to hear from any ornithological experts.
Hope you enjoy the pictures. A

Tags: Wildlife and nature Gull Herring Gull Yellow Legged gull Ham Wall Somerset levels Swallowing

Voters: CarolG, sweetpea62, NaturesHaven and 36 more

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CarolG 11 199 20 Greece
16 Jun 2012 3:22PM
How very gruesome, Arthur, but very well captured. I didn't know gulls were cannibals Grin Carol

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16 Jun 2012 3:27PM
A stunning set Arthur captured so well,well done..Lin
mikejmb 10 2 United Kingdom
16 Jun 2012 3:44PM
Great capture, a truly graphic account but this looks to me more like a Lesser Black-backed Gull, the back looks too dark and the legs would be yellow. Interested what others think?
16 Jun 2012 3:47PM
A gulp of a Gull. A Fantastic set.
jaktis 14 84 Sweden
16 Jun 2012 3:55PM
Thats an impressive bite to swallow

Maiwand 11 3 73 England
16 Jun 2012 3:58PM
Astonishing series of shots Arthur. I have seen the gulls take young of other birds before but never seen one having to make such a determined effort. They usually dump it if it does'nt get down easily. Your narrative was most useful.
MoragM 8 1 Scotland
16 Jun 2012 3:59PM
Every picture tells a story! Incredible - didn't know gulls could swallow like that.

16 Jun 2012 4:01PM
Superbly captured. Jamie
helenlinda Plus
10 360 22 United Kingdom
16 Jun 2012 4:07PM
Mind boggling !!!
Very amusing series of shots Arthur - v5 is my favourite - looks as if he has sprouted antenna WinkWink
senn Plus
7 5 1 Belgium
16 Jun 2012 4:38PM
impressive series
55jase 12 188 2 United Kingdom
16 Jun 2012 4:38PM
Superb and great write up.
16 Jun 2012 4:39PM
Fantastic series!
franken Plus
15 4.6k 4 United Kingdom
16 Jun 2012 5:00PM
These are incredible images!

RonnieAG Plus
8 154 118 Scotland
16 Jun 2012 5:04PM
What an amazing sequence of shots which I would have had difficulty believing had you not captured them.
Wonderful nature series.
coastem 7 7 1 United Kingdom
16 Jun 2012 5:26PM

Excellent series.

barbarahirst 9 27 12 United Kingdom
16 Jun 2012 5:38PM
What an amazing set ... though must admit I feel kinda squemish now
fentiger Plus
16 918 24 England
16 Jun 2012 5:42PM
That is gross hope it gets indigestion Wink. Great series of images ~ well captured.

Jasper87 Plus
8 2.0k 150 England
16 Jun 2012 5:50PM
It makes me gag just looking at the images, Arthur. Amazing capture, and well-written documentary.

moiral 8 12 Scotland
16 Jun 2012 7:25PM
Great series of shots - nature at it's worst Grin. Greedy pig of a gull, they will eat anything. Probably shouldn't laugh, but I did! Moira
pluckyfilly 11 351 33 United Kingdom
16 Jun 2012 8:58PM
geat set 3,4,and 5 are amazing
EAS 9 1 13 Scotland
16 Jun 2012 9:47PM
Amazing and horribly fascinating stuff!

Lillian Plus
8 22 17 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2012 10:23AM
If I had not seen those images? unbelievable determination
wonderful set Arthur
Glostopcat 12 255 2 England
17 Jun 2012 10:39AM
A cracking sequence of natural history images showing this greedy gull devouring this young moorhen, you've recorded the event so superbly. I have never heard of a swallow tale gull before, no doubt hoardes of twitchers will descend on Ham Wall en masse to view this rare bird!Wink I was hoping to visit the levels on Wednesday with the Big O but work commitments have scuppered that idea, a real pity as the weather looked like it was set fairSad
Ade_Osman 15 4.5k 36 England
17 Jun 2012 11:12AM
Excellent images Arthur......

Sending you a PM, which might be of interest.......Ade
17 Jun 2012 1:17PM
Nature doing what nature does. A fine set if not a little gruesome Arthur.
My initial thoughts on what gull it was was a lesser black backed. It looks too light in colour to be a great black backed gull.

annettep38 Plus
6 218 40 Costa Rica
17 Jun 2012 10:05PM
Fantastic series, the gull seems to defy the laws of physics!
Well spotted
goso 11 2 1 Australia
17 Jun 2012 10:40PM
Amazing captures Arthur - what can be more natural than nature ...Bill
brownsilent 11 7 2 United Kingdom
20 Jun 2012 9:58PM
God gracious! I thought it must choke and fall dead in the last image! What a greedy beast.
Excellent sequence,
xwang 9 56 8
15 Jul 2012 4:09PM
Superbly captured images,it's unbelievable!...

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