Report Guernsey Colour Ringed Gulls

Sightings of Guernsey colour ringed Gulls can be entered here for an instant life history, or sent to for a life history to be returned by e-mail to observers.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Blog Update - Alderney Bird News

Regular visitors to this blog will realise that the postings have slowed down since August 2015. This is largely because I have moved up to Alderney, the most northern of the Channel Islands. While all my gull research projects remain active, and indeed Alderney is home to the Channel Islands' most important colony of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, there are far fewer gulls here in winter than on Guernsey.
I will still update this blog, but by the middle of September all of Alderney's breeding LBBGs had left the island, and since then I have only recorded the odd LBBG on island!
I am, however, taking many bird records each week, and have started an Alderney Birdwatching Facebook Page, where news of the Island's birds can be found.
Alderney is , in many ways, the most exciting of all the Channel Islands for recording migrants and also for its breeding seabirds, so there should be plenty of news.
Please feel free to visit the Facebook Page and join the Group if this is of interest!

Alderney Birdwatching

Various bird watching sites on Alderney, Channel Islands (c) PKV

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Dutch Sandwich Tern Observed on Passage Through Alderney

On 27 August I saw a colour ringed Sandwich Tern in a small flock of terns resting in Braye Bay, Alderney. Yellow 17T was ringed as a chick on the Dutch Island of Texel. The project leader, Dr Mardik Leopold sent me a lot of information about his project, and this chick, which I have reproduced below, along with his very nice photo!
"Thank you very much for reporting this sighting! Y-17T is indeed one of our birds. It was ringed, with 311 conspecifics, in the colony “Utopia”, Texel, The Netherlands, on 27 June 2015, and is the fourth of this year’s chicks to be reported from the greater Channel area. We prepared a map (yesterday, so your bird is not on it yet) of all sighting so far. Please have a look at:

 by clicking on the symbols, you will get details on ring numbers and dates (week numbers).
I think we are seeing a pattern unravelling where some chicks remain in Dutch waters (for over a month after fledging), producing many sightings, while some others turning up at some distance. These latter birds typically disappeared from view at an early stage here and your bird fits this pattern: see life history below. 17T was seen in the natal colony only once after ringing, which is not much by our standards, and was not seen at all elsewhere (same). ".
It is wonderful when project leaders reply with such a wealth of interesting information!
Sandwich Tern Yellow 17T, when ringed in June 2015 as a chick on Texel, The Netherlands (c) Mardik Leopold




When ringed, it was a very average-sized chick, compared to all the others: its measurements and body mass  were placed centrally in the cloud of data points. I guess that “being average” means exactly nothing!


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Alderney - Week 2

Highlights from our 2nd week on Alderney included our first big seawatch with 219 Balearic Shearwaters, one Arctic  Skua and 30+ Bottle-nosed Dolphins seen in just one hour from the front garden. While other seawatches have been very much quieter, a lone juvenile Long-tailed Skua on 30th August was much appreciated!
While the gull flocks are thinning down, and I have received my first reports of this year’s juvenile LBBGs from Portugal, I am still managing to record decent numbers of my colour ringed birds on Alderney. This week I’ve also seen another of Peter Rock’s LBBGs from South-west England, and recorded a juvenile Sandwich Tern ringed in June this year on Texel, The Netherlands. The German-ringed Black-headed Gull is also still present.
Finally, we’ve had a couple of sightings of Grey Seal, and several very good morning walks with many migrants warblers and chats at Mannez Quarry and Longis Pond. Today Catherine spotted a Wryneck in Mannez Quarry before I got home from work!
My son, Merlin, also came up for a few days, which was wonderful! Not a bad first full week in Alderney!

All photos within a few minutes walk from home (c) PKV

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Alderney - Week 1

Now that Catherine and I have moved to the northernmost Channel Island (Alderney) I intend to post a weekly summary of activity here each Sunday. So...yes this first one is late...and it's only half a week, as we only moved up last Wednesday. However, in the first few days in our new home at the eastern end of the island, only a few kilometres from France, we saw a pod of 30+ Bottle-nosed Dolphins, and seawatching produced c 20 Balearic Shearwaters and a single Great Skua, amongst the constantly passing Northern Gannets.
On the gull front I have thoroughly enjoyed checking out the local beaches and seeing c 30 of my Lesser Black-backed Gull chicks which I ringed this summer on nearby Burhou. I've also seen c 60 of my colour ringed adults.
I've also seen a trio of foreign-ringed Gulls - a Black-headed Gull from Lower Saxony, Germany, a Great Black-backed Gull from Cornwall and a Lesser Black-backed Gull from Swindon, England.
Finally non-seabird ornithological highlights have been a Green Sandpiper, a pair of peregrines over the garden, and lots of migrant warblers on our daily walk only a few minutes from home.
All in all Alderney is showing much early promise as a truly marvellous place for birds and other wildlife.
PKV and Sophie at Les Etacs Gannetry

Les Etacs

Our back garden

Catherine's low water swimming pool

The front garden (we live in the lighthouse cottage)

Home Sweet Home! All photos (c) PKV

Friday, August 14, 2015

More Guernsey LBBGs on More Beaches in Portugal

Yesterday there were more reports of our LBBGs from Portugal. This time three birds on Matosinhos Beach (Armando Mota) and eight together on Vagueira (Pedro Moreira). Both have small traditional Xavega fisheries!

Three Guernsey-ringed LBBGs on Matosinhos Beach, Portugal (c) Armando Mota

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Xávega Update from Torreira Beach, Portugal

Dr José Tavares reported another nine Lesser Black-backed Gulls ringed in Guernsey from Torreira Beach this morning. This makes at least 14 different Guernsey birds on that one beach in the past three days! This is just one example of how important some of the beaches in Portugal are for our nesting gulls!

Guernsey-ringed LBBG's on Torreira Beach (c) Dr José Tavares

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Marvels of Xavega

Last winter I was lucky enough to see Xavega being practised on Costa da Caparica Beach in Portugal. This is a traditional Portuguese way for a fishing community to work together to catch fish...and the gulls love it too!
What I really admire about it is that the communities of people work together to catch the fish, and like almost all people who live close to nature they have little fear of the natural world and are in fact surprisingly tolerant of gulls sharing a part of the catch.
At the heart of the current media-hyped nonsense about gulls in towns and cities is a fear which is generated by people becoming more and more divorced from, and disconnected to, nature...which is nothing short of tragedy for nature and for the health and well-being of people.
Just look at these photos...the people completely ignore the mass hysteria...just a wonderful natural spectacle to enjoy!
The photos were taken today by Jose Tavares at Torreira Beach, Portugal...and he saw no fewer than eight Guernsey-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls! I just wish I'd been there to enjoy the wonderful spectacle again!


Xavega and Gulls at Torreira Beach, Portugal Today (c) José Tavares

And Another Old Gannet

At just over 25 years old Northern Gannet F13025 didn't set any longevity records for this species, but it is still a very good age for a wild bird that has such a specialist and dramatic way of life, including plunge diving for fish from up to 25 metres or so! I ringed this bird as a chick on Les Etacs, Alderney on 19 June 1990 (the year Nelson Mandela was released from prison or the Simpsons aired for the first time on US TV - just to scale it), and it was found freshly dead at Sonderborg, Denmark in July this year. One can only speculate how many tens of thousands of kilometres that remarkable bird flew in its life-time!
Northern Gannets nesting on Les Etacs, Alderney (c) PKV

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The LBBG Exodus Gets Underway!

As is typical for the time of year., it is now noticeable that the numbers of adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls in Guernsey are beginning to reduce, as the birds begin to migrate after the breeding season. The youngsters are still here, but I now have several reports of adults that are back in Portugal and even Southern Spain. For example Black 7AA6 was known to be nesting on Sark this summer, but it was seen by José Manuel Mendéz at Odiel Marshes, Cadiz, Southern Spain on 4th August.
LBBG Black 0CF4 Finistere, France yesterday (c) Solange Arzel

Friday, August 7, 2015

Super Summer Days!

Yesterday Catherine, Vic and I popped over to Jethou to dismantle the seabird camera until next season. The camera, which Catherine organised, and she and Vic trained on a Shag nest this year, proved to be one of the most exciting and interesting aspects of this year's seabird season! Let's hope for next year we can provide a live streaming camera!
Then we switched over to Herm for a quick swim on one of the finest beaches in Europe (Shell Beach), enjoying a passage party of 20+ Common Terns feeding as we swam.
This morning it was back to more mundane fare....checking Chouet and Pembroke Beaches. The highlights were another observation of the 2nd calendar year Yellow-legged Gull that we colour ringed at Chouet Landfill his May...and the first of the fledged Lesser Black-backed Gull chicks from Burhou - it's almost impossible not to get daily seabird highlights at this time of year!


Dismantling Seabird Cam on Jethou

Mauve Stinger Jelly Fish (sting only as bad as a nettle I'm told!)


Vic adding another island to his "swimming tick list!"

Antlion on Herm (thanks Jamie for id)

2nd cy Yellow-legged Gull Black 4CT7 at Chouet - all photos (c) PKV