On one of our regular Lockdown Constitutionals, we sat on a shady bench a little downstream from Ryde Bridge. Amanda noticed that in the distance, a Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) was making regular trips back and forth between the northern river bank and the wooden crash-buffers under the bridge. Even with the telephoto lens, we were too far away to be certain of what the Gull was doing, so on our next walk we changed our usual route to walk over the western side of the bridge, from where we could take a look.
For bridge nuts, Ryde Bridge is a pair of bridges. The older, western bridge that carries northbound traffic is a heritage-listed steel Pratt truss bridge opened in 1935 (with a now inoperable lifting span), and it is from this bridge that we were able to get some unusual bird’s-eye views of some nesting Silver Gulls and their chicks.
On our first crossing, Gull Family No. 1 had an already fairly advanced chick. The chick seemed to have inherited the nest, and the parent sat on an adjacent pile.
On closer inspection, it looks like there had been at least two chicks. We think this chick is lying on the dead body of a sibling (!)
A stretch of his wing…
On a nearby cluster of seven piles, another gull was sitting on the nest.
And, by leaning out uncomfortably over the rail of the bridge, we could see the gull that Amanda had seen from the bank. She had built her nest in the protected recess of a rotting cross-member directly below:
A week later, we returned. The first chick had grown a little:
The parent was still keeping watch from an adjacent pile:
Gulls 2 and 3 were still sitting on the nest with no signs of any developments:
A week later again, and sadly Gull Family 1 were no longer around. Young gulls grow up fast – but not that fast. We assumed that the chick was predated by some other bird.
But in happier news, Mum 2 had hatched a chick!
At Gull No. 3’s cross-member, there was also a chick! Unlike the chick on the cramped top of No. 2’s pole, this chick was using the more expansive real estate to waddle up and down, though never too far from Mum.
Returning for a fourth week, we were pleased to see that Mum No. 2 had hatched Chick No. 2:
Gull No. 3 was still on her cross-member:
The Chick was looking more grown.
We then realised there two chicks!
And another surprise; as well as the two chicks, there was an egg still on the go: hopefully Mum No. 3 will raise three chicks.
As we were leaving we noticed another gull making regular back and forth trips to collect nesting material. Which is where it all began…