Is this gull-head marking normal?
QIs it unusual to see Black-headed Gulls with summer ‘hoods; at this time of year (January 5th, Christchurch Quay). Rob Sumsion
AIn any large group of Black-headed Gulls at this time of year, expect to see a wide variation of head markings – some regain their chocolate-brown hood very early, as this one has (it still looks slightly faint), while others (like the second bird here), won’t even have started. There’ll also probably be all stages in between. This might be exacerbated by where you saw the birds. Birds further south breed earlier than those in the colder north, and so gain their breeding plumage earlier, so you might well have been seeing birds from several different places. The one with the hood could easily be a bird that had strayed from across the Channel.