A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Audouins Gull

Finally a picture of an Audouins gull. Distant but the black legs  and scarlet bill give it away.

Arriving at the nesting sites between late March and early April, Audouin’s gull forms colonies from a few pairs to several thousand pairs. Each pair faithfully returns to the same breeding colony each year, but different nesting sites are used depending on the success of the previous year’s clutch. Between late April and early May the female lays two to three eggs  and incubates them for three weeks. The chicks fledge in mid July, when both adults and young leave the colony for the wintering grounds.

Audouin’s gull feeds along the coast, taking mostly fish, including waste from the fishing industry.  It will also consume small mammals, and small birds and plant material.

The only gull that is limited to the Mediterranean, Audouin’s gull breeds mainly in Spain, Algeria, Greece and Italy. It has less significant breeding colonies in France, Cyprus, Croatia, Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco. Flying south at the end of the breeding season, Audouin’s gull spends the winter on the coast of north and west Africa. Its population has risen from just 1,000 pairs in 1975 to over 19,000 pairs today, following an increase in discarded fish waste from the fishing industry, particularly at the Ebro delta in Spain

The majority of colonies base themselves on rocky cliffs and islands with medium vegetation cover to provide shelter for chicks, however, the Ebro delta colony inhabits salt marsh and sandy seashore. Unlike many other species of gull, Audouin’s gull is not pelagic, preferring to feed along the coastline.


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