The Grey-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus)

I recently posted a blog and called it “Seagulls by the sea, what a strange place to find them” some bloggers enjoyed the humour, and commented as such. Now what a surprise for me.. I went to the Oliver Tambo airport.. to catch a photo or two of incoming aircraft, a passion of mine.

The surprise was to capture photos of seagulls, or more correctly the Grey-headed Gull near the airport. For those of you that have no idea where the O. Tambo airport is in South Africa, its situated on the high veld miles and miles from the sea. So did these guys fly in for a visit or are they lost? Actually they are found throughout the whole country.

The Grey-headed Gull is slightly larger than the Black-headed Gull at 42 cm length. The summer adult has a pale grey head, a grey body, darker in tone than the Black-headed, and red bill and legs. The black tips to the primary wing feathers have conspicuous white "mirrors". The under wing is dark grey with black wingtips. The grey hood is lost in winter, leaving just dark streaks.

Sexes are similar.

This gull takes two years to reach maturity. First year birds have a black terminal tail band, and more dark areas in the wings.

In flight, the wings are broader and held flatter than those of Black-headed Gull.

This is a noisy species, especially at colonies. The call is a raucous crow-like “caw, caw.”

First a few planes… one even grinning… and then the gulls… enjoy…

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