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Portishead Birds

Herring Gull

Despite the recent invasion of humanity, Portishead still hangs on to a wide variety of birds. They all occur no more than two miles in any direction from Waitrose and are thus within easy strolling distance from anywhere in town. I aim to list which species are possible to see in which season with just the most basic pair of binoculars, and offer some hints for identifying the birds.

Some species are so common and so widespread that even the most casual, naked-eye observer will have them on every hour-list they care to keep! As at any seaside location, herring gulls are plentiful, although they do now figure on the Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern. Their numbers have plummeted to less than half those of 25 years ago. Catch them while you can. In seeking to replace the kiddy’s-ice-cream-theft headlines, tabloid editors at least will mourn their demise.

They are the larger of the two most regular gulls, the smaller being the black-headed. These disappear in the summer to their breeding grounds while the herrings tough it out on urban roofs. A similar, but darker, gull – the lesser black-backed – joins them and does occur in the winter as well, although in smaller numbers.

[This is what I expect based on experience elsewhere but I haven't lived a Portishead summer yet, so any corrections will be much appreciated.]

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