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Length 36β38 cm (14ΒΌ-15 in), wingspan 92β105 cm, weight 215β350 g
 Similar Species
Black-headed Gull is superficially similar at first glance, but the head is dark chocolate-brown rather than black, and the wings have a very different pattern of black and white on the primaries. Relict Gull resembles second-summer Mediterranean Gull in having black marks on the primary tips in adults as well as immatures, but no overlap in distribution is known. Juvenile and first-winters somewhat similar to the same ages of Common Gull but paler, with a whiter underwing, and a white head with dark eye patch.
Europe, especially south and central Europe, wintering to north Africa. As a breeding bird almost confined to Europe where breeds in large colonies mainly in the south-east, and in central Turkey. The main colonies (over 300,000 pairs in total) are on the northern Black Sea coasts, chiefly in the Dobruja area of Romania, around the Crimea, and at freshwater lakes in southern Russia, with smaller colonies also in northern Greece and central Anatolia.
The species has undergone a dramatic range expansion in recent decades, breeding first in south-east Hungary in 1940, and reaching France in the Camargue (c.1,500 pairs in 2000), northeast Italy and more recently Belgium (1,300 pairs in 2012), the Netherlands (2,000 pairs in 2012), Germany (230 pairs in 2004) and elsewhere, has recently started breeding in Denmark (15-20 pairs), Poland (25-30 pairs), and Ireland (under five pairs). In Britain, it first bred in 1968 and now breeds widely in England, with around 90 pairs in 2000 increasing to over 1,000 pairs by 2012, the majority on the south and east coasts. The first breeding attempts for Northern Ireland took place in 1996, rising to six pairs in 2012, but breeding is still only sporadic in Wales and Scotland.
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 northwest 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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