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 Similar Species
Black-headed Gull but the head is dark chocolate-brown rather than black
Europe, especially south and central Europe, wintering to north Africa. As a breeding bird almost confined to Europe where breeds in very scattered localities mainly in the south-east, and in central Turkey. Regular colonies on the Black Sea, chiefly in the Dobruja area of Romania and around the Crimea, at freshwater lakes in southern Russia and also in northern Greece and Central Anatolia. However, this species has undergone a dramatic range expansion in recent decades.
Elsewhere breeds in the Camargue, north-east Italy and south-east Hungary and has bred sporadically in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and elsewhere, recently bred Ireland, Denmark and Poland. Now breeds annually in Britain, mainly in southern and eastern England with more than 90 pairs in 2000. The first breeding attempts for Northern Ireland took place in 2001.
With the population increasing and range expanding, breeding is likely to become regular in more areas. Most birds winter in the Mediterranean, where found virtually throughout, largest numbers on coasts of southern France and Spain, Italy, Tunisia and the Nile Delta. Also passes through Straits of Gibraltar to winter off Portugal and north to Britain and also south to Mauritania. Increasingly birds are remaining near to summering areas, especially in North-West Europe.
Breeds on estuarine saltmarshes, flooded fields and sparsely vegetated islands often in association with Black-headed Gulls or terns.
After breeding most are coastal, although some feed on grasslands some distance inland
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Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
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