Distribution Britain 729 (-1.1%) Ireland 163 (-27.6%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 160,000 Ireland 44,700
European status: 790,000 (26% in Britain and Ireland =1)
British population trend: down 40% in 20 years (+33% BBS)
How likely are you to record it? 1055 squares (23.5%) Ranked 46 
Herring Gulls were well established round our coasts long before they started to appear in the introduction to Desert Island Discs! Populations started to increase in the early 1900s and reached a maximum about 30 years ago. Discards from fisheries, better general bird protection, rubbish management that allowed the gulls many free lunches were all invoked as reasons for the increases. Between 1976 and 1994 breeding on buildings increased by 10% per annum to almost 17,000 pairs. However the overall coastal population is thought to have declined from 283,900 to 146,700 pairs round Britain and 59,700 to 44,200 pairs round Ireland in the years 1969 to 1987. Culling for all sorts of reasons, restriction of feeding opportunities provided by man and the effects of botulism, mink and fox predation may all have had, and are probably still having, their effects on this widespread species. Not, surely, in serious trouble?
Raven, S.J. & Coulson, J.C. 1997. Bird Study: 44, 13-34.
Whilde, A., Cotton, D.C.F. & Sheppard, J.R. 1993 Irish Birds: 5, 67-72.
The following Bird On! sketch is available:
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead