The average numbers of Herring Gulls Larus argentatus present in a breeding colony on Walney Island, Cumbria, were found to vary with the tidal cycle but to remain effectively constant with time of day through the breeding season. An activity survey, based on 50 Herring Gulls observed at half‐hourly intervals during March and April 1973, showed that sleep and rest varied inversely with each other with sleep increasing to 50 per cent at midday. After a peak in the proportion of gulls asleep four hours before low tide, sleeping progressively decreased until low tide; seemingly a result of resident gulls waking and remaining more alert as others left the colony in search of food. Preening was constant throughout the day and tide cycle. Other behaviours (mostly courtship and agonistic behaviour associated with territory defence) increased slightly during low tide and were more common early and late in the day. Night observations of the gulls' activities showed that there was a peak of sleeping between midnight and 02.00 hours. It is suggested that Herring Gulls have a bimodal diel sleep pattern.
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|Published - Jul 1978