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The first of gaggle of gulls has arrived

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On October 29th they were back. Kunming's feathered friends, the black-headed seagulls, arrived to rest up on their long journey southwards. 200 gulls, the first flock of a flying legion, entered the city and settled in Daguan Park. For 35 years the birds have been coming to Kunming, on their annual trek from Siberia to Southeast Asia.

Before the rest of the gulls' arrival — numbering in the tens of thousands and increasing in number year on year — a campaign was launched to reveal the migration secrets of these gulls.

The bird banding center of China and the Kunming Bird Society have teamed up to collect data in order to better understand the migration routes and living habits of black-headed gulls. Similar research has been done in previous years.

Between November 2018 and this March, they have installed satellite trackers on 92 black-headed gulls and two brown-headed gulls.

The solar-powered trackers can send radio signals and monitor the flight path, speed and altitude of the migrating birds, so as to display the gulls' habits, location and living conditions.

Let's hope the gulls won't run up a huge phone bill, as happened in the case of a similar research project with migrating steppe eagles.

Since we are enjoying extremely nice Autumn weather, why not head out this weekend for some birdwatching? Apart from Daguan Park, Haigeng Dam (海埂大坝) is also a prime location for goofing around with the gulls. If you happen to see Bread Man please take some pictures and give us a shout, we'd love to interview him about his gull fascination and devote an article to him.

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Comments

On all the pictures they have white heads and only a small black dot behind the eye. Why are they called black headed gulls?

It's funny you mention this lemon. Keen observation. I also noticed most are white-headed with a black dot in earlier months, but in February many appear black headed.

Either these black dots grow to cover entire face after a few months here, or the black-headed gulls arrive much later and stay for a shorter duration. My hunch is the former.

@Giggi
I am traveling around at the moment and guess what Wikipedia does not work here.
Maybe you can cut and paste the relevant lines?

"The summer adult has a chocolate-brown head (not black, although does look black from a distance), pale grey body, black tips to the primary wing feathers, and red bill and legs. The hood is lost in winter, leaving just two dark spots. Immature birds have a mottled pattern of brown spots over most of the body.
This species takes two years to reach maturity. First-year birds have a black terminal tail band, more dark areas in the wings, and, in summer, a less fully developed dark hood."

@Giggi
Thanks.
So from now on I will call them chocolate-brown headed gulls in summer and two dark spotted behind the eyes gulls in winter.

A viral video will ruffle some feathers.

Unruly visitor at Haigeng Daba was captured grabbing the feet of a gull and not letting go, perhaps hurting the poor bird as it finally escaped. Balantant incidents like these seem to reoccur annually to

our birds.

The perpetrator was reprimanded by other bystanders. Imo, the image of his face should be processed in the police facial recognition database to be formally charged and fined, social credit scored reduced what not.

This type of citizen involvement neighborhood watch may diminish future assaults on our seasonal cohabitants.

Interesting. Do you visit our planet often?

Local news on Douyin is reporting first flock of sea gulls have returned to Haigeng dam. 20 days earlier than usual. Eye witnesses living near Dianchi, have you seen them first hand? Tough Q1 for them in Kunming. We, the locals and tourists, will make it up this time around.

They have been around for about 3 weeks now. They would manage even if people didn't feed them, they are scavengers and survive the rest of the year without human input. I also doubt that they only visit Kunming.

Yunnan isn't the only place these sea gulls migrate to. For the generations of gulls that arrive to Kunming every winter for decades, they've relied on human feeding (for better or for worse). Scavenging may work where food is in abundance in the wild. Particularly during seasons where food supplies flourish in their feeding habitat. That natural food source is unavailable here in the city for the majority as population numbers perpetuate.

In light of their recent arrival, public health experts have announced guidelines to protect us and our avian friends. To avoid risk of cross contaminating the gull species, do not come into direct contact while feeding. The mink fur farm in Utah where thousands of mink perished from Covid outbreak is case in point. Wash hands thoroughly if the birds (or their droppings) are accidentlly touched.

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