Although 2020 was a pretty miserable year one highlight for us was a pair of seagulls that decided to nest on our flat roof right next to our bedroom window. The seagulls can be a nightmare where we live but the opportunity for the kids to see the Gulls having a little chick was good enough for me to let them stay for a while.
Now these gulls dont have a great track record!! In 2019 they nested on our roof, but did not manage to hatch an egg. It was pretty disappointing. They sat in their nest day in, day out, wind, rain or shine. We all waited with baited breath for the little hatchling but nothing happened. We could see chicks on the other rooftops and still nothing happened. Eventually they upped and left their little egg and another bird must have come down and ate it for dinner as we found it broken and empty.
We were excited that 2020 would be different, that they would set their nest right next to our window and we would get a front row seat to watch nature takes it course.
Job number 1 is to build a nest. A pretty complicated procedure by all accounts. Made infinitely harder if its in the drainage hole for the guttering.
The first rain storm came and the nest got washed away and left a little egg sitting there in the the cold with water running around it like a river. It was one of those shit or bust moments where we knew that it was going to be another wasted year for them if we did not intervene. We decided to give them a little helping hand and build them a new nest for the egg in a location that was not going to get washed away every weekend!!!
To our surprise the gulls did not mind the little extra help and took to the new location and layed another 2 excellent looking eggs.
Our first observation was that the Gulls would leave the first and second egg out cold for quite some time, I assumed this meant that they were not interested or my intervention had effected them somehow but a little googling later i discovered its a strategy to ensure all the eggs hatch at the same time. Turns out the incubation period only starts when the gull starts sitting on them all together. Otherwise the chicks would hatch all at different times.
Unfortunately of the 3 eggs only 1 egg hatched. The other 2 eggs were either duds or something else got them (more about that later).
The left over egg shell hung around for some time until eventually it disappeared over night. Its hard to know what took it but this started to become a common theme.
Being right by out bedroom window meant that we were able to capture some incredible close up shots of Seagull life and watch the little chick grow over the lockdown weeks.
We learnt that during the day the parents would take it in turn to look after the chick whilst the other went for food. During the night time the parents would disappear. I set up a tracking camera with timelapse to capture a full 24hr loop of seagull life.
The little chick was pretty demanding, wanting to eat all the time. The parents just flying away and coming back with food over and again. Its a pretty punishing routine for the parents as they dont get a break!
Over the days/weeks we got to watch the little chick slowly grow up.
We got so excited waiting for the day that the chick would start to learn to fly. We could see chicks on other roof tops spreading their wings and learning to take off and knew it would be our little guys turn soon. Unfortunately one night the chick disappeared. Just like the egg shells!! My hypothesis is that a larger bird or other Seagull eat him during the night when the parents would fly away. Seems a pretty brutal ending for such a fury and fluffy little guy!
Its coming into 2021 now and the parents have come back again. Hopefully it will be 3rd time lucky. If you want to follow their story in realtime your can heep an eye on their instagram account and I have uploaded all the photos we captured here.