Distribution Britain 671 (-18.8%) Ireland 145 (-48.4%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 167,000 Ireland 53,800
European status: 2,100,000 (11% in Britain and Ireland = 3=)
British population trend: fairly stable (-27% BBS)
How likely are you to record it? 952 squares (21.2%) Ranked 50 
The Black-headed Gull is a very familiar bird all over the country but breeds in rather few places in large colonies. A hundred years ago the effect of egg collecting for food had reduced the colonies in areas with good communications but the birds were doing well in remoter upland sites. At this time the colonies in Southern Britain, coastal and inland, started to increase about 35,000 pairs in England and Wales rose to about 100,000 in 1973. Eggs are still collected for food but many are from tidal areas and would have been lost to spring high tides. In Scotland there has been recent range expansion and the population there and in Ireland has probably been increasing from 100 years until about 30 years ago. Since then the situation is rather confused as colonies may shift, exchange birds with neighbours or remain uncounted for years. As human egging becomes less important, mammalian predation by foxes, hedgehogs and mink is becoming worse. Several colonies have over 10,000 pairs. The future seems assured.
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