NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Little gull chicks make history at Aberdeenshire reserve

A little gull chick and parent bird at Loch Strathbeg Image copyright RSPB Scotland
Image caption A little gull chick and parent bird at Loch Strathbeg

Chicks of the world's smallest species of gull have hatched for the first time in Britain at a bird reserve in Aberdeenshire.

The hatching of two little gulls happened at RSPB Scotland's Loch Strathbeg site near Fraserburgh.

The conservation charity said it was the first time the species had been recorded raising young in Britain.

More chicks could follow at the nest on a small island which is home to more than 130 pairs of common terns.

Little gulls normally breed in northern Scandinavia, the Baltics, Russia and Siberia.

Image copyright Ian Francis
Image caption Little gulls are raising young on a small island at a Aberdeenshire loch

Breeding adults have black heads with a small dark bill, short red legs and a dark smoky grey colour under their wings.

Richard Humpidge, RSPB Scotland sites manager, said: "We were really excited to discover that the little gulls had successfully hatched.

"It wasn't long ago that the island was home to just 10 pairs of common terns that struggled to raise any chicks.

"Four years, hundreds of hours of help from volunteers and 10 tons of shingle later, there's more than 130 pairs of terns with lots of large tern chicks and now we've got two tiny little gull chicks as well - a first for Britain."

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