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Common Gull

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An occasional winter visitor to the Dorset coast; smaller than a herring gull and different colouring to the black-headed gull.



Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

Common Gull: not a common gull

Post date: Thursday, 12 March, 2015 - 00:00

This may be the common gull (Larus canus) but here in Dorset it is far from common. This is very much a bird of the northern areas of Britain but they do head to the south coast in winter in some numbers. They have a distinctive call which gives them their alternative name of the mew gull.

I have a problem with identifying them in flight but when you get to see one, like this one, perched on my neighbours roof it is a bit easier. They are about the same size as the black-headed gull but bare very little resemblance to them as they have no black markings on the head and do not have the red legs and beak. The common gull is much smaller than the herring gull and have a green bill and legs not yellow. They also lack the red tip to the bill that the herring gull has. 

As with many gulls in Dorset, one of the best places to see them is the RSPB reserve at Radipole Lake and it is always worth looking amongst the black-headed gulls standing in the car park as you will often find a few common gulls in amongst them.


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Common Gull
Alternative Name(s) Mew Gull
Scientific Name Larus canus
Status Restricted
Interest Level
Species Family Gulls and Skuas
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Harbours, estuaries and lagoons
Look for A gull with greenish legs and bill
Additional Identification Notes
  • Although the common gull it is far from common in Dorset
  • Primarily a winter visitor but not in big numbers
  • Smaller than the herring gull and with a greenish bill and legs rather than yellow