lpearce's picture

Gull Pellet?

Observed: 14th February 2010 By: lpearcelpearce’s reputation in Birdslpearce’s reputation in Birdslpearce’s reputation in Birdslpearce’s reputation in Birds

This pellet was about 10cm long mainly made up of broken shells. Did not seem to have much vegetable matter and was quite loose in structure. Any ideas - we wondered if it was a gull pellet but thought it too big.
There are otters in the area.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


ld4655's picture

Rotten eggs

The clear image of broken blue egg shell suggest this may be the partially rotten remains of a clutch of eggs which have been broken either by natural causes or by disturbance either by a human or a natural predator. The right hand side of the "pellet" on close examination shows a congealed slime, most likely the albumen from the eggs. You mention there are otters in the area. Otters have a voracious appetite and would not hesitate to take a small bird or egg.

dshubble's picture

Gull pellet?

It's about the right shape for a herring gull pellet and the size is feasible - they have been known to include cutlet bones from rubbish tips. There also looks to be a small metal bead about top centre - non-food objects are commin in gull pellets. Also, the fairly homogenous contents (shell fragments) is often seen in gull pellets where a plentiful food supply of that type is available (can be mainly fruit seeds, beetle cases etc etc). There are a number of gulls large enough for this, including some vary closely related to herring gulls, and I'll i.d. it tentatively as a gull pellet.

Iris003's picture


Dear Dshubble, in my Animals Tracks And Signs Book it says Herring Gull pellets are about 3-5cm long. Common Gull pellets can be up to 8cm long and can be composed of fish bones and beach creatures.
Old Otter droppings can be light grey and crumbly but this looks too fresh. It would be useful to know where it was found ie: riverbank, stump of tree or in the open.


dshubble's picture

Pellet size & location

Sounds like the book is Bang & Dahlstrom which is pretty good. As I understand it, pellet size can vary and I doubt it can be taken beyond family with any certainty. I agree that it doesn't look like an old otter spraint, though the location might help if lpearce would like to add this.

lpearce's picture


NNR Loch A'Mhuilinn is a nature reserve along a stretch of the disused single track road . Nature is reclaiming the road there are small trees & bushes etc growing in from each side so it is now really only a path.
This pellet was in the open on the side of the road near an old lay-by so there would be more room for a bird the land. At that point it is bordered by a loch which would also give gulls more space for landing.
The road is half a mile or less from the sea and about a mile away from an off shore fish farm which we think is also growing shellfish
As I said earlier we know there are otters in the reserve but I did not think the pellet was theirs.
I looked in my copy of Bang & Dahlstrom which is why I suggest the pellet was a bit long for a gull but Gull still looks a strong possibility.

Les Pearce
Photos- http://www.flickr.com/photos/assyntnature/
Videos http://www.youtube.com/user/assyntnature
Wildlife of Assynt

dshubble's picture

extra info

Ta for that, Les - appreciated. As you say, the location does work for it being a gull pellet, though I don't expect we can be certain.