Is this gull-head mark­ing nor­mal?

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your View -

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.

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