We finally had snow in London this week! Hurrah!
OK it didn’t last. But we’ve not had proper snow for 4 or 5 years so we’re allowed to celebrate a bit.
We knew the snow was coming – and the previous week’s storm – because the seagulls told us.
You what? Yes really.
Seagulls – you see – can tell the weather! They’re brilliant at it.
Now most of the time, we don’t have seagulls around us.
Some live a few miles north on the Thames and most live – obviously – on the coast 30 miles away.
BUT there are times in the year when a BIG flock appears in our little corner of south London.
They like it here, when the weather’s bad because it’s built round two sheltered valleys. Which still have ponds in them left over from the old rivers – now underground – that used to run through.
BUT the seagulls DON’T turn up when the weather gets bad.
Oh NO! They turn up en masse 4 or 5 days in ADVANCE.
And when they turn up, we can guarantee there WILL be bad weather within the week.
EVEN sometimes when the weather forecast says there won’t!
How on earth do the seagulls do it?
Well. It turns out the seagulls are like a barometer.
They can sense the small but significant changes in air pressure that indicate a storm is on its way.
This amazing ability to tell the weather and move inland for shelter helps seagulls survive storms.
How cool is that?
BUT if you watch the seagulls carefully when they come in land.
You’ll see them do something else.
Just before the storm comes in – usually the day before – you may spot big groups of seagulls flying round in tight circles together.
Do you know what they’re doing?
They’re recalibrating their barometers, that’s what.
As the change in air pressure becomes intense, they need to adjust their sensors.
If they don’t, they won’t be able to detect new changes in the air pressure.
And by flying around in circles together they can do that. Wow!
So the next time you see a flock of seagulls turn up in land prepare for a storm.
EXCEPT – in July – when they use their barometer for another INCREDIBLE reason.
BUT that’s a story for another day. You’ll have to wait to find out.
I hope you enjoyed this little nature note.
For more simple ways to explore nature with kids at home and in the classroom do follow me on Pinterest and have a read of these posts:
- Dissecting Flowers To Explore Pollination
- The Life Cycle Of Ladybugs
- The Life Cycle Of Geese
- Making Rainbow With Prisms
- Writing On Tree Bark
Original image source: seagull, seagull on post
Yes, in Philadelphia, PA they predict coastal storm very well and yes 4-5 days in advance. So, they cost up the Delaware River and their favorite spots are the fast food places with large parking lots.My daughter qas eating Wawa’s bacon egg and cheese she didn’t finish the bagel so I told her to toss it on the sidewalk something will eat it. Before it could hit the sidewalk a seagull got it midair. First one I’ve seen that day. Later in the day more seagull where flying around.
I live near water, gulls fly around all the time, what I wanted to know is why do they fly in the rain
What happens in July???
Today I noticed that there was a bigger then usual amount of Seagulls flying all together in circles. Some really high up, like the way hawks circle food. Do Seagulls really do this before a storm? If so, that would be so cool!
So the weather man last night was calling for snow in the Mts. And in near by city’s. I guss we will just have to wait and see.
It was really cool to find this article!!!
It’s fascinating isn’t it – but really is true, they can feel the changes in weather and storms coming a good way out!
Michael Dunne says
Saw this for the first time on evening Tuesday Aug 18th 2020 here near the south coast of Ireland when I noticed about thirty seagulls flying in a circular pattern which was moving from the South West to the North East which would be inland. I was amazed watching it – so thanks for the explanation. On Wednesday, exactly 24 hours after I saw them we had a storm here in Ireland.
It’s quite amazing isn’t how good they are at forecasting the oncoming storm!
MARTINA SMALES says
I was sitting in my allotment in Yarm Teesside yesterday evening about 7.30 pm and for at least 5 minutes I watched hundreds of seagulls all flying SW to NE above me. Some would pause & circle a little way ahead over the river and then continue on. I often see movement of flocks of corvids later in the day, but this was extraordinary, so many for so long and in one direction on into the distance. Was this anything to do with storm Francis?
Almost certainly yes. Could be particularly striking because we’ve had a series of storms following very quickly after each other. They seem to be able to forecast 4 or 5 days out and the circling is their way of testing the air pressure changes.
Michael Ward says
Cormorants can tell when it going to rain and when a dry spell is due. If one is seven flying upstream it’s a sure sign that it will rain. If flying towards the coast o dry spell is due. The reason is that during a dry spell fish will accumulate at the estuary because the river water is low. When it rains fish will go upstream and there will be plenty in the lakes feeding the rivers. Cormorants seem to know this and so can predict the weather.
I live in Meaford Ontario, last night around 12:30 I went outside to check on my solar lights, on my way back inside, I looked up in the dark sky, and flying in circles were at least 10 or more looked like birds but they were glowing that’s how I noticed them, they didn’t make a sound just kept flying in circles, do seagulls glow like that in the dark, there were no lights on where I am, could it be something ELSE?
Good question. They can fly at night but most don’t or at least haven’t. Quite a lot of birds are becoming confused by light pollution into night time activity but as it was dark sounds like it was something else!!
James C says
The migrating Seagulls return to my area in Cut Bank Montana as a sign that winter is coming to an end for mating. Usually within a week or two of the equinox. This year, just like last, they arrived on the exact day of the equinox.They aren’t always 100% accurate given how unpredictable weather can be at my latitude as sometimes a late spring storm might bring some snow, but it melts off fast in the warmer weather. This particular flock winters in the interior of Central California and Central Nevada.
The sense of time of so many birds have is amazing isn’t it? There is a nest of swifts in the eaves of the house opposite in me in London. I am awed by their ability to return back from Central Africa to that specific spot on within a day of May 5th every year.