O N February 13th, 1954, an adult Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) was found at the edge of Blagdon lake, north Somerset, unable to fly and gaping continuously. It was kept in captivity, but died the following day after being forcibly fed with sardine. A detailed post mortem was performed 24 hours later. The gull was an adult female in summer plumage weighing 720 g m . with massive subcutaneous and mesenteric fat depots. An examination of the bill showed a specimen of the Duck Leech (Theromyzon tessulatum) occluding the left nasal cavity and considerable blood stained mucus covering the posterior narial apertures. Fragments of sardine were present in the mouth and one piece was blocking the opening into the larynx causing the death of the gull by asphyxiation. The atria of the heart were greatly dilated with blood and engorged blood vessels were prominent on the surface of the shrunken ventricles. The rest of the organs appeared normal in the gross. No pathogenic bacteria were isolated from the intestinal contents. These findings suggest that the gull was a normal healthy adult before the leech entered the nasal cavity. The leech, measuring 25 mm. in length when fully extended, was filled with blood and at the site of attachment to the wall of the nasal cavity, there was some haemorrhage. The right nasal cavity and trachea were not blood stained indicating that these sites had not recently been occupied by other leeches which may have left the host after a blood
Browse current articles
Sign up for our e-newsletter
British Birds – how it works
BB 2000 Ltd, the company that owns and publishes British Birds, is run by a board of directors, all of whom are volunteers. The company employs two full time staff – Roger Riddington is the journal’s editor while Hazel Jenner manages subscriptions and administration – and three part-time design/editorial staff.
The company is wholly owned by The British Birds Charitable Trust (BBCT, registered charity no. 1089422). Neither the company directors nor the trustees are paid for their services, providing their time and enthusiasm because they passionately believe in the value of BB. The Company is managed with a view to making a small profit which can be donated to the Trust to help fund its charitable work.
Over the past six years, this, combined with donations from other sources, has enabled the Trust to give almost £40,000 support to a variety of conservation and educational projects ranging from rat eradication on seabird islands to the study of cuckoo migration, as well as assisting young birders develop their interest.
A full list of projects is given here. The Trust is seeking to expand its charitable endeavours and would welcome donations from like-minded organisations and individuals.