From Birding-Aus



From: Wim Vader <;
Sent: lørdag 6. august 2022 16:09
To: Willem Jan Marinus Vader <;
Subject: Gull stories from Tromsø


Some gull stories from Tromsø


The most common gull species here in Tromsø (70*N in N. Norway) is the appropriately named Common Gull Larus canus.  They are everywhere and nest also in gardens and on balconies. Herring Gulls (L. argentatus) and Great Black- backed Gulls (L. marinus) are also common and especially the former regularly nest on flat rooms in town, where some develop into " "kebab gulls", and steal sausages and such from tourists at outdoor restaurants and on the streets, a well-known problem many places in the world. These last years Tromsø has got a different gull problem in addition: Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla), who have run into serious problems at their nesting cliffs, have discovered town buildings as safer nesting places, and have started to occupy window sills, advertisements, and outdoor lights. They are noisy and messy, and therefore far from popular, but they are a threatened species in Norway and therefore absolutely protected. There are heated debates in the local press, with of course many arguing that this is intolerable and the gulls must be eliminated; many of the debaters seem unaware of the fact that we are taking about 3 different species with quite different ways of life (No Kittiwake will ever steal a sausage, and no Herring Gull nest on a window ledge).

Tromsø town has built 2 ‘kittiwake towers’, in the hope that the birds would switch from the buildings and build their nests on them, and one of them has in fact attracted many Kittiwakes; but it does not really help all that much and no solution is in sight.


Here in our garden a pair of Common Gulls has nested on top of the rabbit house. Before their eggs hatched, we found three very young chicks in the garden, from another nest nearby. Sadly, in the course of a few days they all disappeared, and I watched the last one being taken and killed by a Herring Gull.


When ‘our chicks’ hatched, they stayed on top of the rabbithouse for 2 1/2 weeks, in spite of being regularly drenched during this almost record wet July. When they finally jumped down (We had to extricate them from the rabbit yard), they soon disappeared into neighbouring gardens and we hope they succeeded better than the first bunch; they were much bigger already.


Nor was this the end of the story! The last 4-5 days we have had a trio of Herring Gull chicks in the garden. They are almost as big as the parents, who keep watch from the street light, and can even fly a little. But they are still being fed, and return every night, some nights sleeping just outside our front door–they even have tried to abscond with a pair of shoes there! And they also whitewash the porch. I suppose they will soon be gone, and we won’t be particularly sad to see them go.


There are a few other gull species in Tromsø, but none is common. The Baltic Gulls (L. fuscus) have decreased alarmingly; they are real ‘sea gulls’ and avoid the town. Black-headed Gulls (L .ridibundus) are stragglers here, while in winter we now and then see Glaucous Gulls (L. hyperboreus).

Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway



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