Identification: Adult birds are most similar to Great Black-backed Gulls but they are smaller, and less powerful and their dark grey backs are a few shades paler than the black in their wing-tips. In Scandinavia, however, the Lesser Black-backs have darker backs and must therefore be distinguished by their smaller size, yellow legs and the relatively tiny amount of white in the tips of the wings. The immature birds are most likely to be confused with Herring Gulls especially during their first winter when neither species has started to acquire the diagnostic mantle colour. However, Lesser Black-backs always seem to have darker wings and mantle, each feather being mainly dark with pale edges. In flight, the young Lesser Black-backs have consistently dark brown wings without a pale area in the inner primaries.
Habitat: Breeds on coastal cliffs, buildings, moorland and dunes. Winters on coasts, estuaries, inland lakes, reservoirs and rubbish tips.
Distribution: Breeds widely around the coast, mostly in the north and west of Britain. A few birds breed inland. Increasingly, winters in Britain, gathering with other species in communal roosts. The L.f.fuscus is rarely encountered whereas L.f.intermedius is a regular and numerous winter visitor.
A widespread breeding bird around the coasts of north-west Europe, sometimes nesting in large colonies eg. over 16 000 pairs on the islands of Skomer and Skokholm in Wales. It becomes very abundant in some Mediterranean areas in winter, especially around the coasts of southern Spain.
Population: 83 000 breeding pairs in Britain with 5 200 in Ireland. Wintering numbers have increased to about 500 000 birds in Britain and Ireland.
210 000-230 000 breeding pairs in Britain, France, Iceland, Scandinavia and the Netherlands