On the wing

Isn’t it a marvel to watch birds on the wing and note their contrasts in aerodynamic shape? There are those with powerful wing flaps to slender wing form aerialists, and then there are the dumpy waterbirds more adapted to diving than highflying?

Southern Black-backed Gulls

It’s lively out there on the shoreline as the Southern Black-backed gulls breed from September through to March but mainly now, in November.  They’re a robust species, dominating the shoreline and top of the pecking order when it comes to muscling in on opportunistic feeding.  I was intrigued to see two adults tussling in a ‘beak pulling’ contest.  I wondered if it was a play for dominance or perhaps a mating ritual.  Anyone have any knowledge on gull behaviour?

Two Southern Black-backed gulls square up for a game of beak pulling.
Two Southern Black-backed gulls square up for a game of beak pulling.
And the battle is on, engaged and hooked.
And the battle is on, engaged and hooked.
Here in the line-up are the juveniles in their mottled plumage while the mature adults are black and white. Their legs and feet are a bluish-yellow, which is a useful identifying feature from the Lesser Black-backs which have bright yellow.