Print page

First British-born little gulls have taken their first flight

Last modified: 27 July 2016

Adult little gull feeding on water's surface

Adult little gull feeding

Image: Graham Catley

After making history earlier this month by being the first little gull chicks ever proven to definitely hatch in Britain, all eyes have been on the two youngsters to see if they would survive to take their first flight. Today it was confirmed they have, making their parents Britain’s first ever successfully breeding little gulls.

The nest, which is on an RSPB Scotland nature reserve in Aberdeenshire, has been monitored with growing excitement over the last three weeks as the tiny chicks grew larger and feathers replaced their down.

Then on Monday (25 July), the wait was over and one was seen as it took its first flight. This has developed from a story about the first little gulls ever to definitely nest in Scotland [note 1], to the first little gull chicks ever to hatch in Britain [note 2] to now the first to fledge, as these little birds smash record after record.

Richard Humpidge, RSPB Scotland Sites Manager, said: “We are delighted that they have taken to the air for the first time. It was exciting to have the first little gulls ever proven to hatch in Britain on the reserve, but seeing one take flight for the first time is really special. I’m sure their choice to make their home on the tern island has helped and we are thrilled that the terns seem to have had a good year too”.

Four years ago, there were just 10 pairs of common terns nesting on the island at Loch of Strathbeg. This year, thanks to the addition of the predator fence and to hundreds of hours of help from volunteers to relevel the island and add 10 tons of shingle, there’s more than 130 pairs of terns along with Britain’s first ever successfully breeding little gulls [note 3].

Before now the young birds had spent all of their time around the nest in deep vegetation and only the adult birds could be seen. Visitors to RSPB Scotland Loch of Strathbeg should now increasingly see the young birds as they fly around building up strength and improving their technique. The visitor centre has reopened following the completion of renovation work to provide new toilets and a new viewing window with feeders, so visitors can watch the birds in comfort.  For more information about how to get to the reserve visit or call 01346 532017.

How you can help

Together we can give nature the home it needs. Help us continue our conservation work.

Nature reserves

Share this