Little Gull Larus minutus
(last update: March 02, 2015)
Little Gull adult
IDENTIFICATION OF LITTLE GULL Larus minutus
DISTRIBUTION AND MIGRATION
European population mid-late 1990s (in pairs) 23,000-32,000: Russia 11,000-14,000; Sweden 500 (90-125 early 1990s); Norway max. 10 (first bred 1976); Finland 8,000-10,000 (first bred 1879; strong increase in recent decades); Poland 20-100 (most Lake Druzno); Latvia 700-3,000; Estonia 1,000-2,000; Belarus 1,800-2,300; Lithuania 100-200; Ukraine 100-200. Netherlands 5-40 (61) (first bred 1942, after which irregular and often unsuccessful, but regular 1975-1988 on Lauwersmeer; since then most records Waddensee and Delta area). Irregular Great Britain, Germany, Denmark (1940-1950s >50-75 pairs W/N Jutland; since 1980 occasional single pairs), France, C Europe and Romania. General decrease in S part of breeding range but increase in N Sweden and Baltic since 1970 (Cramp 8c Simmons 1983, Tucker & Heath 1994, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hagemener & Blair 1997, Svensson et al. 1999, Bijlsma et al. 2001).
Recently spread to N America. First record 1919-1922, since 1987 regular. First bred Canada 1962, USA 1975; subsequent breeding records in many states (Glutz von Blotzheim & Bauer 1982, Godfrey 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Migratory. Arrives breeding sites late Apr-late May, leaves from late Jul. Population from Fennoscandia and W Russia migrates W and SW to main wintering grounds W Mediterranean and Atlantic coast N to Brittany; Finnish and Baltic birds recovered W to Great Britain and E to Adriatic / Black Sea, extralimitally Kazakhstan.
In autumn usually coastal, but thousands (mainly second-years and adults) gather N German lakes and low wetlands to moult before further migration; leaves early-mid-Sep. Migration in N and W Europe: large migration S Baltic, to a lesser degree Swedish Great Lakes (mainly first-years). Large migration Swedish and Danish Baltic coastline (N to Gotland), where on average 13,000 pass yearly. Most observed from coast in strong E-S winds combined with rain and low visibility. First-years start Jul and peak mid-Aug-mid-Sep. Migration route of northern (Finnish?) populations passes mid-Baltic, max. 1,350 at Bjorn, Uppland, on 16-18 August 1996. Head SW across Swedish lakes (Mälaren-Vänern) to N Kattegat. Adults much scarcer along this route, but flocks of max. 200 noted mid-late Oct. First-years otherwise generally head S across C Europe.
Adult migration in S Baltic starts late Aug, peaks mid-Oct-early Nov. Visible migration greatly dependent on weather; best years around 6,000 Scania and Öland, Sweden, respectively. Best autumns 1994 (with unsurpassed peak mid-Sep) and 2000 following hard SSE winds and poor visibility. In Sweden max. day-counts 3,565 at Öland on 16 August 1994 (31% adult, 8% second-years, 61% first-years), 3,309 at Segerstad on 7 November 2000 and 1,614 at Sandhammaren on 29 October 2000 (1,223 adults, 115 second-years and 148 first-years). At Gedser, SE Denmark, 4,000 in best season (Glutz von Blotzheim & Bauer 1982, Koop 1985, Breife 1987, Jensen 1993, Darefeldt & Johansson 1994, Dahlgren et al. 1995, Lindberg & Lotberg 1997, Arinder 2001, pers. obs.).
Max. 500 Scotland late Aug-Oct suggests arrival via Swedish Great Lakes and N Kattegat. Gathers at moulting sites in N Great Britain before heading W and S late Sep-Oct (see below); situation similar to German. Along Danish W coast regular; day-counts >600 in strong SSW winds. Large passage Dutch W coast and Belgium (late Jul) Aug-mid-Oct (max. 10,000 Netherlands; mainly first-years into early Oct, followed by adults). Peak Oct-Nov; max. day-counts 2,238 Netherlands and 1,435 Zeebrugge, Belgium. Probably arrives after large-sca1e inland migration W from S part of breeding range. Peak of mainly adults Pas-de-Calais, NW France, early Nov. Regular C European lakes. In Bodensee peak late Aug-late Sep. Max. 280, mainly first-years (Hutchinson & Neath 1978, Cramp & Simmons 1983, Schuster et al. 1983, Malling Olsen 1992, Murray 1994).
European migrant population heads W for Atlantic Ocean between Irish Sea and Morocco (some further S to Nigeria and Angola) to offshore wintering sites; >600 seen from land in onshore winds Wicklow, Ireland, Jan. British winter population 1,000; largest European winter count 5,000-10,000 Dorset late Dec 1974. Around 1,500 winter Dutch Waddensee (exceptionally 10,000). Scarce Baltic Sea in winter; in Sweden max day-counts 190 Öland and 482 E Scania Dec-Feb, more irregular Swedish Great Lakes in mild winters or before freeze-up; max. 215 Vanersborg on 4 March 1992 (>90% adults) (Glutz von Blotzheim & Bauer 1982, Akerman 1986, Breife 1987, Darefeldt & Johansson 1994, Bijlsma et al. 2001).
In spring, large gathering of adults, Camargue, France (max. 1,560 Apr; in May mainly first-years). At Gibraltar and Cap Gris Nez, France, peak late Mar-late Apr. Of 2,225 Cap Gris Nez 88% adult, 1% second-years, 11% first-years, followed by larger numbers of first-years in May. Large concentrated passage N Netherlands (max. 80,000 in one year) mid-Apr-mid-May; most 4,008 30 April-2 May 1976. Several thousands Apr-May Krammer-Volkerak, SW Netherlands. Along Merseyside coast, NW England, peak second half of Apr (max. day-count 680); >90% leave before mid-May, probably mainly heading for Finland, where migration peak concentrated first weeks May. In spring 1987 large passage (4,136) Heligoland, Germany: peak late Apr-early May; 1,410 on 5 May. Mainly adults in Apr, from late month increasing numbers of first-years: on 5 May 78-80% first-years, 16-18% second-years, 4% adults. Largest German influx noted 30 April 1998: 21,000 Schleswig-Holstein. In Switzerland, max. 1,300 Préverenges on 30 April 1999. These influxes, caused by strong SE winds, also noted Great Britain. Often settles on lakes. Bodensee peak similar timing to above-mentioned, with adults passing late Apr-early May; from late Apr dominance by first- and second-years; of 145 on 5 May only four adults. In S Scandinavia, following SSE winds, flocks of max. 200 late Apr-early May Denmark and Scania (adults; first- and second-years dominant from mid-May). First-years summer in small groups C and N European lakes. Small numbers of all ages summer Great Britain (Woutersen 1980, Glutz von Blotzheim & Bauer 1982, Cramp & Simmons 1983, Schuster et al. 1983, Whittington 1987, Moritz 1988, Messenger 1993, Meininger 1995, Birding World 12: 189, Brit. Birds 94:138, H.J. Lehto in litt., pers. obs.).
C Siberian population migrates via Aral, Caspian and Black Seas to E Mediterranean. Common migrant N and W coast of Black Sea and Turkey (Anatolia, Bosporus, Dardanelles) Aug-Sep. Max. 30,000 Romania, early Aug. Max. counts Bulgaria and Bosporus 2,500 mid-Aug-early Sep. Fewer cross inland Turkey. Some hundreds winter Black Sea and Balik Golu, Turkey; 2,000-5,000 Greece. In Mediterranean intermix with W population. Recovery of bird from Barabinsk, C Siberia, in Belgium (Erard 1960, Cramp & Simmons 1983, Handrinos & Akriotis 1997).
Many winter E Mediterranean. In Nile Delta survey Dec-Jan 1989/ 1990 of 52,769 counted 47,316 were at Lake Manzala 7-8 January 1990 (largest number ever counted). Only a few hundreds there late 1970s and 1980s suggests recent change in winter quarters. Along Israeli Mediterranean coast max. flocks of 460 Jan-Feb, mostly following strong onshore winds. Israeli winter population 2,000-4,000, mainly first-years. In W Mediterranean, max. 1,300 noted off E coast of Spain, 900 Tunisia, hundreds Oran, Algeria and max. 100 Tripoli. Strong movements at Gibraltar during easterly gales. Abundant winterer in Caspian Sea (Bourne 1957, Bundy 1976, Cramp & Simmons 1983, Finlayson 1992, Meininger & Sorensen 1993, Shirihai 1996b).
Spring migration of C Siberian population timed similar to westerly; off Port Said 5,000 late Mar 1990; in E Mediterranean generally largest numbers Apr (max. 2,000 certain Greek sites), sometimes May (e.g. 5,000 Evros Delta, May 1968). Flocks of first-years often summer (Cramp & Simmons 1983, Meininger & Sorensen 1993, Handrinos & Akriotis 1997).
Movements and winter quarters of E population less known; probably winters Seas of Okhotsk and Japan S to China. Erard (1960) suggests that main wintering zone is Sea of Okhotsk. According to Il’icev & Zubakin (1988) China holds three widely separated wintering areas, in NW China, NE China and along the E China Sea coast.
Migration of N American population associated with Bonaparte’s Gull. Max. 25 Niagara Falls/ New England, E Coast, and max. day-count 112, N Carolina, winter and spring, and 50 Lake Ontario, spring. In autumn, max. 10 per day New York, Sep. In winter small numbers between Massachusetts and New York. Vagrant to most states W to California. Autumn arrival to N America probably associated with W movements from W Palearctic. In Iceland 85 into 1992, most May-Jun (first-summer) and Sep (adults). Vagrant Greenland, Arabian Gulf (e.g. seven, UAE), Afghanistan, India, Canary Islands, Azores, Bermuda, Caribbean, tropical Africa S to Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Kenya (largest number 60 Jan 1979 Lake Turkana could indicate unknown winter area) (Cramp & Simmons 1983, Urban et al. 1986, Péturson 1987, Boertmann 1994, del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Weight Adult male 82-127, female 68-133, first-year 66-121 (Glutz von Blotzheim & Bauer 1982, Cramp & Simmons 1983, skins in NNH, UZM, ZMA).
|Little Gull minutus, adult, February 09 2014, Wherrytown, UK. Picture: Steve Rogers.|
|Little Gull minutus, adult, April 08 2015, Riga, Latvia. Picture: Igor Deņisov.|
|Little Gull minutus, adult, March 01 2014, Lancing, UK. Picture: Mick Harris.|
|Little Gull minutus, adult, May 15 2014, St Petersburg, Russian Federation. Picture: Ekaterina Papchinskaya.|