Christmas has been spent enjoying time with the family...so there has been little time for gull watching. However...there was a very good number of Great Black-backed Gulls on Chouet on Christmas Eve (c 200) and amongst these were 13 cr birds (nine from my own project and four well known birds from France). The pick of the bunch was Yellow 0.XX2, ringed as a chick this summer on Crevichon, Jethou. It had been recorded on Guernsey a couple of times in August, but was then seen at East Looe, Cornwall, England on 08 December. On 24 December it was back at Chouet.
Amongst the 2,000+ Herring Gulls was Pale Blue B822 - a bird ringed as a chick in Le Havre, Seine-Maritime in July 2010. The bird had been reared on a roof top in the city, but was found wandering the streets...before being taken to the bird rehabilitation centre run by CHENE. It was ringed there before release.
This week has yielded two very exciting reports of Lesser Black-backed Gulls ringed in Guernsey. The first was White 2.AF7 ringed as a 1st summer at Chouet Landfill in May 2010, and subsequently seen in July 2010 in Somerset, England, July 2011 in Cardiff, Wales, and Boca do Ría, A Coruna, Spain on 07 August 2011. This bird was reported from Kénitra, Morocco on 18 December 2011! The second (Black 9K5) was ringed as an adult ringed on 18 May 2011, and was recorded three times in Guernsey to 21 June 2011, before being recorded at Bocabarranco Beach, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands on 20 December 2011. This is the first LBBG from the Channel Islands Ringing Scheme to be reported from any of the Canary Islands.
LBBG Black 9K5 Chouet, Guernsey - June 2011
LBBG White 2.AF7 Chew Valley lake, Someset July 2010 - Len Ingram
With a cold NW wind blowing hard into Chouet this morning conditions for gull watching were challenging! The landscape was rather wild and beautiful, with several thousand Herring Gulls feeding at Chouet Landfill, along with 150+ Great Black-backed Gulls. Before retreating from the coast for a hot cup of coffee I logged five cr GBBGs - including two French birds (Seine-Maritime) - both well known in Guernsey. Only one LBBG was seen - which is par for the course at Chouet in the depths of winter! Not long to wait now though before my first LBBGs return - maybe 4-6 weeks!
Two things happened today to make me very happy about the success of the Bailiwick of Guernsey LBBG project. Firstly Antonio Gutierrez, one of the keenest gull watchers in Spain, saw LBBG Black 6T3 on Pantin Beach, A Coruna. What was very special about this sighting is that it means that Antonio has seen at least one of our "Guernsey" LBBGs in every single month of 2011. In fact in August his "peak" month he saw 33 of our LBBGs! In total this year he has recorded 58 different Guernsey LBBGs on the beaches of NW Spain. This is making a big contribution to the Guernsey LBBG project.
The other big news today was an e-mail from the legendary gull recorder Harry Vercruijsse, who has recently returned from a trip to Southern Spain and Portugal. On that trip he set a new record by recording 91 sightings of our Guernsey cr LBBGs! The previous record being held by the Peter Rock who had tallied 57 sightings in November in Portugal.
It is hard to over-estimate the massive contributions that these observers, and many others, spread across Western Europe are making to our important gull studies - a very big THANK YOU to them all!!!
LBBG Black 6T3 Pantin, A Coruna, Spain - Antonio Gutierrez
The weekend proved to be very enjoyable with a very productive hour on Saturday at Chouet Landfill Beach - where I recorded 11 cr GBBGs (including four from France - two Seine-Maritime and twoChausey Islands, Manche), and 51 Herring Gulls. On Sunday Catherine and I nipped over to Herm (on the free Christmas shopping boat) and enjoyed a walk around the north end, where we recorded nine cr Herring Gulls. Conditions were far from ideal with a strong wind and frequent rain and drizzle...but that just made a fish and chip lunch all the more appreciated!
Jethou (and Crevichon) from Herm
Catherine and Rubin on Shell Beach, Herm
Gulls on Chouet Landfill Beach
GBBG Black 10J (from Seine-Maritime, France) Chouet Landfill Beach
With wet and very windy weather I thought there may be a large number of GBBGs along the west coast this morning...but this did not appear to be the case. There were only 35 GBBGs and two LBBGs on Vazon. Amongst the GBBGs were three colour ringed birds - two from my own project and one (new) bird from Le Havre, Seine-Maritime, France (Black 54H).
The wet and windy weather over the weekend brought at least 500 Great Black-backed Gulls, and 20 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, to the Island's west coast this morning...but there were relatively few colour ringed birds amongst them. Only six cr GBBGs were recorded (although several other cr birds were too far to be able to record the code in the windy conditions). Half of the GBBGs were from my own scheme, while the others were a well-known Cornish bird, and two French GBBGs from Le Havre, Seine-Maritime.
Often the most exciting reports of my colour ringed gulls come from overseas...but today that was different. Although I could only find seven Lesser Black-backed Gulls on Guernsey's west coast this morning one of them was Black 9C2 - an adult male ringed on 18 May 2011 at Chouet landfill, Guernsey. This gull has now been recorded on Guernsey's west coast on 11 occasions between 8th September and 1st December - and I think it is fair to conclude that this bird is wintering in the islands. That is not to say that it may not be making feeding trips to the south coast of England, but clearly its base is here on Guernsey. This is significant because it is the very first example I have of a locally breeding gull wintering on the island. The vast majority of Guernsey's Lesser Black-backed Gulls remain migratory - with the majority wintering in Iberia or even further south in NW Africa. A minority winters in NW France and a few even winter in southern England.
LBBG Black 9C2 - a rather special LBBG - Vazon Beach 01 December 2011 - PKV
I am sorry for the delay in replying to e-mails with sightings of Guernsey Gulls. I have been in the UK since Saturday 12 November with no access to Internet until today...and I cannot yet respond to e-mails.
I hope to get back to Guernsey over the coming weekend, and will then start to address the backlog of sightings. In the meantime please keep sending your records in. Thank you for your patience!
Early morning visits along the Island’s west coast are still being productive, although the number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls has, as expected, declined to less than 20 birds/day. Interestingly I can usually still find one or two of my cr birds – Black 9C2 is a regular and yesterday he was joined by Black 1.Z3 – so perhaps they are going to remain through the winter?!
Also of interest this week has been the Great Black-backed Gull flock at Perelle and Vazon Beaches , with 33 cr observations having been made on three dates involving 26 different birds as follows:-
Norway (one), Seine-Maritime, France (eight), Chausey Islands, France (six), Cornwall, England (three), south coast , England (one) and Guernsey Bailiwick (seven).
Recently I received news from Morten Helberg in Norway of some gull sightings from a couple of trips to Morocco by Norwegian gull enthusiasts earlier this year. This report included seven sightings involving five Lesser Black-backed Gulls ringed in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Three of these gulls were seen in April at the gull hotspot of Anza Beach, near Agadir, and while I had seen Black 0.L8 at this very site the previous December, the other two birds (Black 6.J0 and Black 6.K2 - both chicks from Alderney in 2010) were both 1st sightings since ringing. A Burhou chick which was only metal ringed (because it was too small to take a colour ring) in July 2009 was seen several hundred km to the north at Oualidia RubbishDump, Morocco.
However…pride of place went to LBBG White 6S9, which was only the 2nd LBBG to be ringed in the Guernsey project – in our garden at Ty Coed, Vale Marais, Guernsey on 26 May 2008. This gull, which had been recorded in the autumns of 2008 and 2009 at Quarteira, Algarve, Portugal, was seen on 13 February 2011 at Dakhla South in Western Sahara – some 3,108 km from its ringing place making it by far the most southerly report to date of a Guernsey-ringed LBBG! To add to this excitement I recorded this gull back in Guernsey on 21 April 2011, and then several times over the summer on Burhou, Alderney where it probably breeds.
I returned this weekend from a fabulous weekend in Malaga, Spain in the very enjoyable company of fellow gull enthusiasts Salva Garcia and Gabriel Martín. Salva regularly watches the gull hotspot of Malaga Port, while Gabi who usually keeps a close watch on the gulls at Alcazar de San Juan Landfill, Cuidad Real had travelled down from Madrid for the weekend. We managed to secure permission to access Malaga Landfill and the port (where the gulls loaf), as well as visiting Benajarafe Beach to the east. On the Monday I was also able to take a look at La Carihuela Beach, Torremolinos and Caleta de Vélez Fishing Port – seeing a few more cr gulls in each location. It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, and with more than 120 gull colour ring sightings it was a record breaking couple of days for Malaga! Of course I was particularly thrilled to see no fewer than nine different “Guernsey-ringed” Lesser Black-backed Gulls over the weekend.
My sincere thanks to Salva and Gabi for their marvellous hospitality, and extremely good company!
Although there was still quite a breeze yesterday morning, and a heavy rain shower, the weather was less stormy than on Tuesday. My early morning trip down the west coast resulted in totals of 200 GBBGs, 150 LBBGs and an adult Yellow-legged Gull. 12 cr GBBGs were recorded (nine French – seven Chausey Islands and two Le Havre, two Cornish and one local bird). 10 of the LBBGs were colour ringed – of which the most exciting was Black 0.K0 a chick ringed on Burhou, Alderney in July 2009, and seen a dozen times in NW Spain from 05/09/09 to 27/08/11. This is another example of a 2nd summer gull moving north in the autumn! We are now more than half way through October…but I remain confident that my west coast LBBG flock is going to whittle away soon…and I will have nearly two months of winter without a sighting of any of my colour ringed LBBGs – but we will see!
The weather was calm this morning...and as a result I could only find 80 LBBGs (seven cr - all local) and 50 GBBGs (three cr - all French birds from Chausey Islands).
GBBG Green E.71 (from Chausey Islands, France) - PKV
Last night I was lying in bed listening to the strong wind and steady rain thinking that this bad weather may well drive good numbers of Great Black-backed Gulls to Guernsey’s west coast…so it was with a great deal of anticipation that I drove down the coast this morning. As expected there were 250+ GBBGs in small flocks on Vazon, Perelle and L’Eree beaches – and amongst these birds were no fewer than 22 colour-ringed birds – 11 from France (seven Chausey Islands, Manche and four Le Havre, Seine-Maritime), two from Cornwall, England and nine of my local birds.
Amongst 240 LBBGs were Peter Rock’s Green G:H from Bristol, England (which was at Slapton Sands, Devon only two days earlier), and eight of my locally cr birds – including Black 0.Z1 which had been ringed as a chick on Burhou, Alderney in July 2009.
Another highlight was a superbly marked adult Yellow-legged Gull on Perelle Beach and later Vazon Beach.
A very quick trip to the coast at lunchtime revealed 500+ GBBGs - but the vast majority were sitting down in the rocks some distance from the coastline. I only managed to read another two Chausey birds, but a 1st winter LBBG Black 4.P8 (Burhou, Alderney 2010) was another superb find!