HERRING GULL Larus argentatus
Fairly common passage migrant and winter visitor.
The dramatic increase witnessed over the past two years has continued, as reports show that this species is once again flourishing in the area. In 2012 there were 52 reports, involving 150 birds; this has now grown to 154 reports concerning 2903 birds, the highest totals since local landfill sites ceased operating around 2000. Nowadays, many birds continue to take advantage of the fields around Cullingworth, and it's clear many are now visiting two food-processing factories in the western part of Bradford. What is remarkable is that nearly all of these birds were seen within a five mile radius of Thornton and, as most birds appear to be on passage, double-counting is unlikely.
At sites which were visited regularly, the picture (as supplied by KM) was as follows:
Total number recorded Highest monthly total Monthly maxima
Wilsden 233 (Aug. to Nov.) 135 (August) 39 on 26th Aug.
Redcar Tarn 195 (Jan. to Dec.) 35 (October) 21 on 9th Feb.
Cullingworth 943 (Feb. to Dec.) 363 (November) 58 on 15th Nov.
Brown Royd 656 (Jan. to Dec.) 245 (December) 85+ on 26th Aug.
These impressive totals, particularly at sites such as Brown Royd, mark a decisive change away from the more traditional areas such as Thornton Moor Reservoir, which has always dominated past records. Other significant counts consisted of 30 birds at Swinsty Reservoir on 25th January, 19 flying over Queensbury a day later and a flock of a dozen attracted by silage cutting at Glovershaw during early July.
YELLOW-LEGGED GULL Larus michahellis
Increasingly common and regular passage migrant.
It was a very similar picture to 2014, with 18 birds seen at seven locations; all except one bird were reported by the same observer. Seven of the gulls appeared at Redcar Tarn between May and November, these all being non-breeding birds in various stages of development - two juveniles, three 1st-winter, a 1st-summer and a 2nd-summer bird. At Leeshaw Reservoir, what was thought to be the returning bird of 2014 (now in 2nd-summer plumage) was seen intermittently from spring to early autumn, and briefly also visited nearby Lower Laithe Reservoir. A 1st-winter bird appeared during the last week in August, and a different 2nd-summer was here in early October, also being seen at Thornton Moor Reservoir. The latter site also hosted one of the year’s few adults, in April, and a 3rd-summer bird in late June. In Bradford, a 1st-winter, was at Girlington for three days in October, and a juvenile at nearby Brown Royd on 11th August. Finally, four different adults were in the flocks at Cullingworth Fields during late August and early September.