Lesser Black-Backed Gull
Distribution Britain 434 (+0.5%) Ireland 81 (-31.4%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 83,000 Ireland 5,200
European status: 220,000 (40% in Britain and Ireland =1)
British population trend: increased but now declining (+39% BBS)
How likely are you to record it? 940 squares (20.9%) Ranked 51 
In common with many large birds, perceived to compete with man for sporting birds, these birds were persecuted during the 19th century and exterminated from some places near centres of population. They increased as game keeping declined and the birds were probably helped a lot by discards from trawlers. Overall the birds spread and increased until perhaps 20 years ago, although this was not true in Orkney and Shetland possibly due to Great Skuas. Many colonies, some larger than 10,000 breeding pairs, were culled (often to protect populations of other birds) and the surviving birds redistributed themselves. By 1994 it was estimated that 3,200 pairs bred on buildings, an increase of 17% per annum since 1976. Populations, overall, now seem to be in decline and productivity is poor in some areas. Britain and Ireland hold 40% of the European population and they are doing badly in North Norway. Serious cause for concern.
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.
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead