Leggy the Herring Gull

"Leggy" was a badly-disabled female Herring Gull who frequented the beach between the pier and the Albion breakwater at Walton-on-the-Naze. I first saw the bird on Walton seafront in the spring of 2004 and couldn't help noticing the badly damaged right leg. It soon became evident that the bird was also unable to eat because her beak was stuck half-open. After surviving at least five days in this sorry state she was finally captured, obviously very weak by this time. Fishing line, complete with hook and lead weight were all removed from her mouth! She was fed and watered before being returned to the wild and stayed in this location for approximately 9 years.

At the time that I found the bird, both myself and Leggy were in a sorry way. I had not worked for three years due to illness and was in a bad place both physically and mentally. Over the next few years I developed a bond with this wild creature which was to be my salvation. I had something to focus on and get up for every day. I gradually gained back my health and in 2009 started up my photography business, something I would not have been able to do if I had not met Leggy the Herring Gull.

Over the nine years that I followed the bird's life I developed a bond with this wild creature, which would recognise and call to me at feeding times. Apart from the obvious changes in plumage which occurred, I was able to study the behaviour and rituals of this wild bird first-hand. It gave me a fascinating insight into the life of this disabled Herring Gull and I learnt so much more than I could ever include here. Leggy disappeared about four years ago and I often wondered what happened to her, but she helped me more than I can convey here. I have begun to put all this into a book.

I photographically charted the progress of this bird towards adult plumage, which takes about five years in Herring Gulls. I have over 3000 images of the bird and have included a selection here in this gallery.
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