Black-headed gulls and a mute swan swimming on a lake at Cherry Hinton Hall

Five minutes in nature: Black-headed gulls at Cherry Hinton Hall

Museum Volunteer Anne French writes:

Cherry Hinton Hall park, a short walk from where I live, is blessed with a chalk stream that used to power a water mill. The chalk stream supports many forms of wildlife such as kingfishers, water voles, sticklebacks, chubb and perch. But recently, I have found myself heading down there to see some birds I thought were terns but it turns out are actually black-headed gulls. According to some knowledgeable birders (with impressive cameras) that I met by the stream, the gulls only have black heads during the mating season, which is why they do not at the moment look like the picture on the information board in the park.

I love to sit and watch the gulls as they swoop  and circle in the air, in contrast to the stately swans, shy moorhens and ducks just being ducks. Sometimes their cries are raucous, especially when people feed them, and sometimes they simply bob up and down on the water or stand guard on wooden posts  in the millpond – just as if they were at the seaside – an impression reinforced until quite late into the autumn by a hardy ice cream van which can often be found on the other side of the park, but which for understandable reasons has not been there in the last few weeks. I could watch the gulls for hours and I feel strangely inspired by the way they suddenly all take flight for reasons only gulls can know, but then, a few minutes later, settle back down again on the calm water of the pond. They make me feel grounded and content for the time being to stay close to home. 

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