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.

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - The End of a Fantastic Year!

As dusk falls this evening, I am beginning to reflect on what has been a really superb year for my gull studies based in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. The amount and quality of the data being accumulated on the three species of gull breeding in the Islands (Larus argentatus, Larus fuscus and Larus marinus) has been so good that the gull studies have totally dominated my bird watching activities in 2010.

There is not time this evening to summarise the year - and in any case I will produce another annual report during January 2011. Looking at my data for 2010 we have ringed some 1,800 gulls (1,600 colour ringed), and I have taken over 12,000 ring reads in Guernsey and Alderney. A priority now (and here a big thanks to Rich and Margaret Austin, Charles David and Helen Wain) is getting the right computer programmes to be able to analyse the data in the years ahead.

OK - before our dinner guests knock on the door - a very big THANK YOU to everyone who has helped with these gull studies both here in the Bailiwick of Guernsey and also abroad where many people have done such a fantastic job reporting the colour rings.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Guernsey Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) seen in NW Spain

It is rare to receive news of my cr Herring Gulls further south than Vendeé and Charente-Maritime in France, so I was very excited today to receive news from Xabi Varela that he has seen Herring Gull White 1.XX6 at the mouth of the Castro River, Lires, A Coruna in NW Spain some 888 km from Guernsey! This bird was ringed as an adult female in May 2009 at Chouet Landfill, during the first cannon netting visit of Paul Roper and members of the North Thames Gull Group. I saw it only once more in that year (on 01 July at Chouet). I presume it wintered off island, but was recorded again between 10 February and 08 August 2010 (including by Roland-Jan Buijs when he was on holiday in Guernsey).

There have been a few records of Herring Gull chicks ringed on Guernsey by Jamie Hooper migrating this far south in their first winters - indeed one of Jamie's Herring Gulls even went as far as northern Portugal, but it is rarer (although not unknown) for adult Herring Gulls to make such long journeys.
Herring Gull White 1.XX6 at Castro River, Lires, A Coruna, NW Spain - 25/12/10 - Xabi Varela

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I have now been able to analyse the Lesser Black-backed Gull sightings taken the week before Christmas at Anza, Agadir. The 187 colour ring reads referred to 128 different birds - orginating in the following countries:-

Lesser Black-backed Gulls

Iceland                                 3
Norway                              31
Germany                              6
Denmark                              4
The Netherlands                32
Belgium                              19

France                                  7
Channel Islands                   7
England                              17
Wales                                   2

TOTAL                              128

Many of the project leaders have already supplied the life histories of the birds seen - and it is really interesting how site faithful some of the adult birds are to Anza in different winters.
LBBG White HX from The Netherlands (Roland-Jan Buijs) - PKV 
LBBG Yellow MG from The Netherlands (Roland-Jan Buijs) - PKV 
LBBG Black 6MF from Wales (Brian Bailey) - PKV

Friday, December 24, 2010


Seeing any of my colour ringed gulls outside the Channel Islands is always exciting. However...seeing my Lesser Black-backed Gulls in Africa is one of the best experiences of my 40+ years birding! I am just back from a week's holiday based in Agadir, Morocco. As this was a family holiday gull watching was naturally limited, but Anza (just to the north of Agadir port) is such an amazing site for gulls that I managed to take 200+ gull colour ring readings - including no less than seven of my own Lesser Black-backed Gulls - four of these were ringed a chicks in the summer of 2010, one as a chick in July 2009 and the other two as adults in the summer of 2010 (one on Guernsey and one on Alderney).

The one km long beach at Anza is a real magnet for gulls - the reason being the discharge pipes from the adjacent sardine processing factory. At times during my visit there must have been 20,000+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the beach. The gulls were not very approachable on the beach, and I soon learnt to concentrate not on the large numbers resting on the beach, but on the gulls feeding at the discharge pipes. Although the high turnover and very active behaviour of the gulls made ring reading challenging at times, the birds were at very close range. Many of the gulls had small amounts of oil on their feet and legs, and several of the colour rings were tough to read because they were smeared with oil.

LBBGs dominate the gull flocks at Anza. The only other colour rings read were a single Mediterranean Gull (Poland) and Yellow-legged Gull (Spain). On the beaches further north around Taghazout and Aghroud, and at the mouth of the Tamri, a few more cr LBBGs were seen, but in these areas Audouin's Gulls dominated...and 25+ cr readings of these gulls were taken. Finally I was really surprised on my first visit to Anza to see an adult Franklin's Gull (still mostly in summer plumage).

Over the next few days I'll post a quick summary of the origins of the Lesser Black-backled Gulls recorded, along with a very short summary of the other birding highlights from this quick trip south.
 PKV recording cr gulls north of Taghazout, Morocco
 Anza, Agadir
 Fish waste discharge pipes - Anza
 LBBG Black 5.T6 ringed Burhou Alderney July 10 - seen December 10 Anza, Morocco
 LBBG Black 6.N6 - as above (Black 5.T6)
LBBG Black 2.N6 ringed Chouet, Guernsey May 2010 - recorded Anza December 10

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Herring Gull White 4.AL2 back home!

Hot on the heels of Herring Gull 5.AV3, which recently returned to Guernsey from Loire-Atlantique, France, comes White 4.AL2. This adult female Herring Gull was ringed on 28 May this year at Chouet landfill. On 29/11/10 and 03/12/10 it was seen at Mesanger, Loire-Atlantique by Vincent Tanqueray and Pascal Bellion respectively. Six days later it was back at Chouet, Guernsey! It is proving to be really fascinating working out the travels of Guernsey's gull populations!
Herring Gull White 4.AL2 at Chouet 11 December 2010 - PKV
Saturday 11 December was another fine morning at Chouet, where I recorded 150 locally colour ringed Herring Gulls.
Further down the west coast there were 200+ Great Black-backed Gulls on Perelle and Vazon Beaches. These included three of my colour-ringed birds, as well as Blue 67C from Seine-Maritime, France (Gilles Le Guillou) and Green J.35 from Chausey Islands, France (Seb Provost).

Guernsey cr Herring Gulls at Chouet 11/12/10 - PKV

Thursday, December 9, 2010

4,000+ Herring Gulls at Chouet landfill and a new French cr GBBG at Vazon

Unfortunately there was not time this morning to enter Chouet landfill. This was a real pity as the high tide resulted in more than 4,000 Herring Gulls resting in the landfill (as well as feeding!). In the very limited time I had I took 80+ cr readings from the perimeter fence - all local birds.

Interestingly one of the adult Herring Gulls (White 5.AV3) ringed in May 2010, which had been seen 252km south in Loire-Atlantique, France by Francois Le Gall on 21 September 2010, was back at Chouet Landfill, Guernsey on 04 December 2010. I had assumed that gulls that made this journey south in late summer/autumn would remain south through much of the winter...but this gull indicates that some may return by mid-winter...well in advance of the next breeding season.
Chouet Landfill 09 December 2010 - PKV 
 Herring Gull White 6.AV5 09/12/10 - PKV
Herring Gull White 4.AN1 09/12/10 PKV 
 Herring Gull White 7.CC7 09/12/10 PKV
Herring Gulls White 3.AP7 and 4.AC4 09/12/10 PKV
A very quick trip at lunchtime gave nice views of Herring Gulls bathing in a stream on Rousse Beach, and a new 1st winter Great Black-backed Gull from Chausey Islands, Manche, France - Green H.65 (Seb Provost).
 Rousse Beach 09/12/10 - PKV
GBBG Green H.65 Vazon Beach 09/12/10 - PKV

Sunday, December 5, 2010

An Early Northbound Lesser Black-backed Gull!

Some fascinating news came in today from Benjamin Griard regarding Lesser Black-backed Gull Black 3.C6 - an adult male ringed on 28/05/10 at Chouet landfill, Guernsey. Benjamin saw this gull yesterday at Sonzay Landfill, Indre-et-Loire, France (313km SE of Guernsey). This in itself is not unusual for I am discovering that a minority of LBBGs breeding in the Bailiwick of Guernsey winter at the landfills in NW France. What makes Black 3.C6 rather special is that this very gull was recorded by Salva Garcia on 05 September and 30 October this year at Malaga Port, Southern Spain (some 1432 km south of Guernsey). I expect my first breeding LBBGs to return to Guernsey by mid January so maybe Black 3.C6 will be one of the first to return next month. It will be really interesting to see.

My theory that no Lesser Black-backed Gulls breeding in Guerney remain in the Islands in November/December is still intact! The last observation of a Guernsey colour-ringed LBBG in Guernsey was taken in mid October!
LBBG Black 3.C6 at Chouet landfill 27 July 10 - PKV

Lots of Great Black-backed Gulls and a Herring Gull from Essex

An hour at Chouet on Saturday morning (4th December) was very productive with two new Great Black-backed Gulls from Chausey Islands, France (Seb Provost)- both 1st years (Green J.73 and Green J.97). There were more than 150 Great Black-backed Gulls at Chouet landfill or on the adjacent beach - which is a good count.

 Gulls on Chouet Landfill Beach 04 December 2010 - PKV
GBBG Green J.97 Chouet Landfill 04 December 2010 - PKV
There were also several thousand Herring Gulls present. 70 locally colour ringed birds were recorded, along with Orange FP3T , a 1st year bird ringed by the North Thames Gull Group at Pitsea Landfill, Essex, England.
Finally, there were three Lesser Black-backed Gulls - including a superb Larus fuscus intermedius.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A few Gulls before work

I managed to get out for half an hour before work today to check Chouet for gulls. Given the recent cold  weather with snow (very unusual in Guernsey!) I thought there may be an influx. However, it was pretty much business as usual with Chouet landfill busy with several thousand Herring Gulls and up to 60 Great Black-backed Gulls - including two well-known birds from Chausey Islands, France (Seb Provost) (Green E.71 and Green E.87), and on the beach there was another French colour-ringed GBBG from Le Havre, Seine-Maritime, France (Gilles Le Guillou). Again this bird  (Blue 77C) is well known in Guernsey.
Gulls at Chouet landfill 03 December 2010 - PKV