Gulls & Terns (13 species)

Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mainly present in the valley between late June and March, though a few immature and non-breeding birds may be encountered during early Summer. The valley record for Wintering numbers stands at 2,300, recorded in December 1991 at Dunstall Park (Private land). Counts of 1,000+ have been made there as recently as January 2007, but nowadays 400 would represent a good record. Elsewhere up to 200 birds can be seen on the valleys many playing fields, as well as overhead travelling to and from roost. Numbers are dependent on ground conditions and freezing conditions, that prevent feeding on grass, restrict local numbers.

Common Gull (Larus canus)
Recorded in all months except May and June and most reliably seen from October to February.Over 15 records were received in 1991, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2006. In recent years though a handful of annual records is the norm. In 2010 a 2nd Winter bird was on the ice-covered lake at Dunstall Park (Private land) on 8/1, an adult flew from Dunstall Park towards the city on the morning of 5/11 and an adult went SW over the Farndale side of the racecourse on 18/11.

Mediterranean Gull
Birds typically join the late Summer passage of Black-headed Gulls, with most records falling between July and mid-September (1 October record in 2006 and 2 January records in 2007, and the first ever valley record of a first Winter bird amongst c50 Black-headed Gulls on the Smestow School Playing Fields on 9/12/1995). The species was recorded annually between 1999 and 2007, with the last archive being an adult at Compton Park on 17/9/2007 - the first record at this site.

Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
Another Gull that continues to colonize our towns and cities. Up until 2000, records from April to September  were extremely rare. Now birds are present in the valley all year, and the fact that up to 5  (including adults) can now be seen in the Summer, suggests that birds may now be nesting in the Wolverhampton conurbation. As with most Gulls numbers have fallen. The valley's record count was 95 at Dunstall Park (Private land) in January 2003, but now a Winter count of 15 is considered good.

Yellow-legged Gull
The first record was of an adult at Dunstall Park (Private land) on 1/8/1992, when it was still considered to be a sub-species. Since then there have been a small number of records, between November and March, the last being  a 1st Winter bird at Dunstall Park on 5/1/2008.

Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
A small number of records are received each year and birds have been recorded in all months except May and June. Despite their presence in Winter roost flocks at Chasewater, Belvide and other local sites, there were only two valley records in 2010: A total of 12 flew NW over Aldersley/Oxley in harsh weather on 7/1 and a single flock of 12 went North over the Barleyfield on 10/1.

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
Up until the late 1990's this species was scarce between April and June, with just a small number of immature and non-breeders remaining. However the further colonization of the midlands towns and cities, meant that counts of 30 can now be recorded during the early Summer months. Overall numbers have fallen and the record of 700+ around Dunstall Park in October 1990, is now but a distant memory with August peak counts barely breaking 100 in recent years.

Little Gull
The one and only record was of a 1st Winter bird, which briefly stood on a frozen Dunstall Park Lake on 31/12/2001.

Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)
There have been 5 valley records, all coming from Dunstall Park (Private land):
7/12/1978 - a dead bird found on the NW edge of the racecourse.
25/3/1989 - an adult, after gales.
1/3/2006 - an adult overhead
16/1/2007 - a 2nd Winter bird spent the day there.
12/6/2010 - an adult was watched for around twenty minutes, then lefter with Lesser Black-backed Gulls, circling and gaining height as it headed towards the city.

Iceland Gull
There have been 5 valley records:
18/3/1989 - a 1st Winter bird headed South over Dunstall Park (Private land)
18/12/1989 - an all white 2nd Winter individual spent twenty minutes at the racecourse then headed South.
9/2/2003 - a 3rd Winter bird was seen heading South over Oxley. It then fed at the racecourse and was almost certainly the bird which roosted at Belvide for a number of nights around this date.
14/1/2008 - a 1st Winter bird was seen in the central grass area at Dunstall Park, before heading SE.
14/12 2008 - a 1st Winter bird was seen leaving the racecourse  with a Herring Gull, towards the City.

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
First seen in July 1989 at Dunstall Park (Private land). A small number of Summer sightings are now annual. Two birds headed NE over the barleyfield on 4/6/2010, and one went North over the same site on 23/7/2010. A "commic" tern was also reported flying along the Staffs & Worcs canal at Compton on 12/6/2010.

Arctic Tern
There have been two valley records, the first of which was quite amazing!! On 30/4/1991, 50+ birds were seen flying North, low over Newbridge in overcast, windy weather on what materialized as the peak Midlands passage date.
On 17/8/2006 a Winter-plumage adult circled Dunstall Park (Private land) on the evening after a day of heavy rain, before heading off towards Oxley.

Black Tern
Only one record in the valley. On 16/11/1994, a juvenile was seen hawking along the Staffs & Worcs canal just North of Barnhurst sewage works, and was almost certainly the bird, which was at Belvide later that day, and which stayed there until 26/11, the latest ever regional record.

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