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
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