6 – Larus ridibundus

Of course, no one regrets the coming of spring. Nevertheless, I am sorry that a dear winter visitor has departed from our local ornamental lake once again. I’m referring to the black-headed gull (kapmeeuw in Dutch). What a sociable creature it is; it always enjoys being out and about with its own kind. Its scientific name means ‘laughing gull’, no surprise then that the Germans call it Lachmöwe and the French mouette rieuse. Its ‘good humour’ is probably a figment of our imagination. The small bird is just abiding by the laws of nature.

By the way, the ‘black head’ (which is actually chocolate brown) disappears in winter, when only a smudge remains behind the eye. The ‘kap’ returns in early spring when for birds of 3 years and older the demanding duty of procreation calls. They make their nests in large colonies found in all kinds of places, but – unfortunately – not on the grassy slopes around our lake.

A large part of the wisdom presented here is taken from an old book by Bert Garthoff: ‘Vogel van de week’, Ploegsma 1971.

Frits Hoorweg, 26 March 2012