Kelp Gull: Shell Gifts

It’s a quirky neighbourhood, this.  At daybreak we’re often rudely awakened with a loud knocking on our patio glass doors:  with a “ke-kah-ka-ee-ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha….”  a cry so raucously loud, it sounds quite gutteral with glottal stop intonation.   It’s “Nelson” attacking his reflection.  As you will note that beck is thick and sturdy, and he attacks with gusto.

Cape Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula)
A subspecies of Kelp Gulls found along the southern African coastline – (Larus dominicanus vetula) is currently thought to be sufficiently different from the nominate race that it ought to be regarded as a full species. The proposed English name is “Cape Gull”.

At times, when we spend periods away from home, we return to discover unexpected gifts – the regurgitated shells from molluscs foraged in the tidal zone (most often Top shells (Diloma sinensis).  

The regurtitated peak section of  Top shells.

One morning, i discovered the delicate vertebrae bones of a small snake laying discarded in a discreet pile.  Scavengers that they are, snakes in their diet should not have come as a surprise. But now i tend to keep a wary eye out for his antics as he swoops in flying low, not totally trusting what the next deposit may entail.

Snake vertebrae regurgitated by Cape Gull


18 thoughts on “Kelp Gull: Shell Gifts

  1. This is a delightful tale beautifully presented – and very interesting too! Our Hadedas simply serenade us very early in the morning and sometimes in the middle of the night.

      1. They are excellent ‘guard birds’ – it’s not easy to move about stealthily when they are perched in a tree at night (:

    1. Was chuffed to find the snake bones 🙂 Interesting to hear that the Herring Gull looks similar. Had a comment from Therese over at “Treesshrubs” in OZ also likening the Kelp to a Pacific Gull. Successful species with variation on worldwide distribution.

  2. Gulls certainly make interesting neighbours! I love the eclectic gifts yours leaves – do you think he’s ‘courting’ his reflection? My daughter has Herring Gulls that nest on her roof and I’ve watched males bring all kinds of things and presented them to his mate, usually hard things like beach pebbles and the like, and also bits of bone. Nothing as exotic as a snake skeleton though, very impressive!

    1. What a wonderful notion of ‘courting’ with gifts. I hadn’t considered this aspect! He’s certainly attracted to his reflection, but is fiercely territorial. There’s another habit going on as well, that of dropping shells to crack them open on hard surfaces. Looks a bit like a banqueting hall with bits and pieces all strewn around. I’m intrigued now, will have to observe more carefully to note the timing and ‘delivery’ of the shell gifts.

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