Birds seen in Europe (Part 5)

Where there is the sea, there will be gulls. After all, the sea is what a gull calls home. Looking back, we did spend much of our vacation close to water, so it was natural to have spotted gulls in almost every city that we visited.

Common Gull

Unlike what the name suggests, the Common Gull was not really everywhere. Characterised by a red eye-ring, we first spotted it at Roskilde, Denmark, atop one of the houses. While on the boat from Flam to Gudvangen on Naeroyfjord (one of Norway’s scenic fjords) however, there were many of them following us, looking out for scraps of food.

Common Gull Roskilde Denmark
Common Gull, Roskilde, Denmark
Boat to Gudvangen Common Gull
Common Gull on the boat from Flam to Gudvangen, Norway
Common Gull in flight in a Fjord
Common Gull in flight, Naeroyfjord, Norway

European Herring Gull

In Bergen, the Lille Lungegardsvann lake with water fountain seems to be home to many birds. We spotted a large number of European Herring Gulls in varying plumage indicating various stages of maturity.

Lille Lungegardsvann lake
Lille Lungegardsvann lake, Bergen, Norway

European Herring GullBergen European Herring GullBergen European Herring Gull 2

Herring on buoy

Bergen European Herring Gull-in water
European Herring Gull, Bergen, Norway
Leiden European Herring Gull
European Herring Gull, Leiden, Netherlands

Lesser Black-backed Gull

At the lake square Festplassen in Bergen, is a statue of Christian Michelsen (the first Prime Minister of independent Norway) on a tall pedestal. More often than not, one will see a gull comfortably seated or standing on his head. A non-flight bird’s eye view indeed! On zooming in, the bird I had photographed was slightly different from the birds we’d seen at the lake. With darker plumage and yellow legs I IDed it as a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Christian Michelsen statue
Statue of Christian Michelsen, Bergen, Norway
Lesser Black-backed Gull on statue of Christian Michelsen at Festplassen Bergen
Lesser Black-backed Gull on statue of Christian Michelsen at Festplassen, Bergen

Black-headed Gull

Very distinctive with its dark face, the Black-headed Gull is a relatively small gull that we saw for the first time around Oslo University. We had found a nice place to enjoy a snack and before we knew it, the gulls along with pigeons and sparrows were waiting for food scraps to drop. They were all really hungry! It was fun to watch them run around and push each other to reach the food first and it would vanish in a flash. (Feeding birds is not recommended, but I must admit I dropped a few pieces.)

Oslo Black-headed Gull

Oslo Black-headed Gull 2
Black-headed Gull, Oslo, Norway
Oslo Sparrow Pigeon Gull
Sparrows, Pigeons and Black-headed Gulls in waiting, Oslo, Norway

We saw the gulls again at Bergen, while kindergarten children were on a picnic. The teachers and children kept shooing them away.

Gulls in Bergen
Gulls and pigeons waiting for children’s scraps

The different species of gulls are marginally different. IDing them has been confusing, so it is quite possible that my identification could be a bit off. One of these gulls we spotted could possibly have been a Yellow-legged Gull that is quite similar.


As we walked to Leiden station to catch the train to Schiphol Airport, the last bird I saw on our trip to Europe was this big black cormorant-like bird on the banks of one of the canals. Not sure, but IDed as Cormorant.

Cormorant Leiden
Cormorant? Leiden, Netherlands

During the two weeks we spent in The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway (Apr-May 2018), we spotted over 25 species of birds, many of which we would not see in India. With no special focus on birding, I think this was substantial. Most of the birds I could catch on camera, but there were some that didn’t oblige! It was indeed an educational exercise to look at the photos and ID the birds.

Read about the other birds seen in earlier posts Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.


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