One of the most exciting colour ringed gulls seen in Guernsey this autumn was Mediterranean Gull Red HKK3, which put in a very brief appearance just after dawn at Pembroke Beach on 20 August 2011. This bird had been ringed as a chick on 21 June 2011 some 1,722 km away at Szeged, Csongrad, HUNGARY. Today I received news that this gull was seen at La Pena, Bilbao, SPAIN on 15 and 21 September.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
An 8.9 metre tide just before dawn was always going to make gulling tricky this morning, and so it proved. However, a little perseverance eventually paid off with several hundred gulls feeding on the seaweed at Vazon Beach. Amongst this flock were Black-headed Gull White 21J0 (from Berkshire, England) first recorded in Guernsey at Vazon on 17 July 2011, four of my cr Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and three Great Black-backed Gulls from Chausey Islands, Manche, France (Green E.34, Green K.47 and K.51).
Sunday, September 25, 2011
This weekend's highlight comes not from the island but from NW Spain, where on Saturday ardent gull watcher Antonio Gutierrez managed to record his 100th Guernsey colour ringed gull - Lesser Black-backed Gull White 6.U6 (which is a breeding adult from Burhou, Alderney).
Bearing in mind that 20 years of my metal ringing Lesser Black-backed Gull chicks had not resulted in a single report from Spain...I find it incredible that in just four years my colour ringing programme has yielded such rich results.
It is very encouraging too that while Antonio is one of the most proficient and prolific ring readers in Iberia (the principal wintering grunds for Guernsey's Lesser Black-backed Gulls), he is being joined by an ever increasing number of keen local enthuisiasts who take the time and the trouble to read the rings on the gulls they see and report them. The contribution they are making to gull research should not be underestimated.
While ring reading by Portuguese birders is perhaps not quite so widespread as in Spain, it is such a lovely place to take a late autumn/winter holiday for birders from further north, that we are fortunate to enjoy a very healthy series of reports from this country too.
Now all we need to do is encourage colour ring reading by the relatively few local birders in Morocco and NW Africa! Now...that would yield spectacular results!
LBBG White 6.U6 Meiras, Spain - Antonio's 100th Guernsey Gull in Spain!
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Conditions were once again good (if a little windy) for observing the gull flock at L'Eree Beach, on the Island's west coast. Almost all the gulls had their legs visible today and nearly 500 full-grown and 60 juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gulls were recorded. This total included 22 of my locally colour-ringed birds, as well as Orange 9V, an adult ringed in Noord Brabant, The Netherlands in May 2006 (Roland-Jan Buijs) and which was recorded on Guernsey's west coast just a couple of weeks earlier in 2010 - thus giving evidence of yet another LBBG which is faithful to its migration stop over points!
Amongst the c 150 Great Black-backed Gulls were Black JX14 (southern Norway), Black 71E and 50J (Seine-Maritime, France), White L:AS1 (Cornwall, England) and Green E.85 and J.20 (Chausey Islands, France).
Gulls at Perelle Beach - PKV
LBBG Orange 9V L'Eree Beach 20 September 2011 - PKV
LBBG Orange 9V Vazon Beach 04 September 2010 - PKV
Monday, September 19, 2011
The lower tide and calmer weather this morning resulted in near perfect conditions for viewing the gull flock at L’Eree Beach just after dawn. Amongst the 350 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were 19 of my birds colour-ringed in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, together with the relatively long-staying juvenile bird (White C+G) from Bath, England. The LBBGs included a 2009 chick – Black 0.F6 (from Burhou, Alderney) and a 2010 chick (Black 4.F1) from Sark. Eleven cr Great Black-backed Gulls were present in the flock of 150 birds – these included yet another new bird from Cornwall (the fourth in as many days), the Norwegian bird (Black JX14) first seen yesterday, and three French birds (all previously seen on Guernsey – Black 34H and Blue 47D from Le Havre, Seine-Maritime and Green E.41 from Chausey Islands).
GBBG White L:AS1 (from Cornwall, England) PKV
LBBGs and GBBGs L'Eree Beach - PKV
Sunday, September 18, 2011
The weather was worse today with frequent rain showers and gale force winds around dawn. L'Eree Beach was the place to be with a flock of c100 Great Black-backed Gulls and 300+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Amongst the GBBGs were Black JX14 (ringed as a chick in Vest-Agder in June 2007 - Morten Helberg) and Green E.44 (ringed as a chick in July 2009 on Chausey Islands, Manche, France - Seb Provost).
The only foreign cr LBBG was White C+G, a juvenile ringed by Peter Rock in Bath, England , and which has been seen in Guernsey on 08 an 12 August 2011.
GBBG Black JX14 LEree Beach
Gulls on L'Eree Beach
Gulls on L'Eree Aerodrome
Saturday, September 17, 2011
It was another superb early morning at L'Eree Beach today, although with wind and rain showers conditions for watching were less pleasant. This morning's highlight was the sighting of Great Black-backed Gull Black JH254 - a 2nd winter bird, which was ringed in Vest-Agder, Norway in July 2010, and seen in Guernsey a year ago almost to the day - so this is another gull showing site fidelity on its migration! Amongst the flock of 100 GBBGs on L'Eree Beach were four French-ringed birds (all from Le Havre, Seine-Maritime - Blue 47D, Blue 30C, Black 17E and Black 34H) and another from Cornwall, England (White L:AS2).
Amongst the 100 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were Blue YH05 from Iceland, and eight locally colour-ringed birds. There was an even larger flock of GBBGs and LBBGs on L'Eree Aerodrome, but the long grass prevented any rings being read at this site.
Gulls on L'Eree Beach
GBBG Black JH254 (from Norway) L'Eree Beach
GBBG Black 34H (from France) L'Eree Beach
Friday, September 16, 2011
After two very disappointing post dawn trips down Guernsey’s west coast, when I failed to find more than a few Lesser or Great Black-backed Gulls, I got lucky today! The tide was better this morning, and on both L’Eree and Perelle there were decent flocks of LBBGs – in total around 200 birds. One of the first colour ringed birds seen was Blue YH05 – an Icelandic breeding bird, which used Guernsey’s west coast as a migration stop-over at this time of year in 2010. It is amazing how some of these gulls really are creatures of habit – even using the same migration stop-over locations! Not to be outshone by this exciting visitor…my own cr LBBGs soon began to appear…and I ended my session with 14 Guernsey and Alderney LBBGs recorded! The last cr LBBG seen, shortly before the flock on Perelle was flushed by a passing motorcycle, was a 1st winter bird – Red S:097 – a bird from a new project in SW England run by Mike Bailey.
As if this wasn’t enough excitement I also found two Great Black-backed Gulls from Bruce Taggart’s project running at St George’s Island, Looe, Cornwall, England – L:AJ8 (recorded in Guernsey on 31 October 2010 and 15 January 2011) and L:AS0 (a 1st winter bird recorded here for the first time).
Tim Earl also recorded a LBBG (Black SJ) at L’Eree on 15 September, which had been ringed in Bristol in 1994 by Peter Rock.
LBBG Blue YH05 from Iceland
GBBG Yellow 0.PP7 from Lihou, Guernsey
GBBG Yellow 0.PP7 in June 2011
Gulls on L'Eree Beach 16 September 2011And finally…the Polish colour ringed Black-headed Gull, which spent last autumn (and this autumn so far) in Guernsey - White TARM - was on L’Ancresse Common last evening – all in all a really outstanding 24 hours for recording cr gulls in Guernsey!
Sunday, September 11, 2011
We have just returned from a week's family holiday based at Azoia, near Sesimbra, Portugal. Each morning I was able to search the gull flocks at Sesimbra Beach and Fish Port for two hours from dawn, and also to record a few gulls at Lagoa de Albufeira. The beaches from Costa da Caparica to Fonte de Telha were very busy with people enjoying the sunshine, so the gulls were loafing during the day at Lagoa. However...they were almost always very difficult to observe here at close quarters because of disturbance from dogs and swimmers. Up to 20,000 gulls were present here at times...mostly Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
During the week I took 106 cr readings - including 98 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The most amazing thing was that although these sightings included birds from Iceland, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, Britain, France and Spain - the most frequently recorded birds were "Guernsey Gulls" - with 21 observations of 16 different birds.
This is clearly a disproportionately high number of Channel Islands birds and it makes me wonder whether our gulls were so common because of the western geographical positioning of both the Channel Islands and western Portugal, and also because of early migration away from the islands? Whatever the reason I was absolutely thrilled to see so many of our own birds in Portugal!
Gulls at Lagoa de Albufeira
LBBG Black 4.X3 (from Burhou, Alderney) at Lagoa
Xavega (fishing) at Sesimbra Beach
Sesimbra Fish Port
Common Tern - Sesimbra
Gulls at Mouth of Lagoa
LBBG Black 8AC3 (from Burhou, Alderney) at Sesimbra
LBBG Blue DKV (From Gloucester, England) at Sesimbra. By coincidence I saw this very gull at Chouet in February 2011!
LBBG N561 (from Spain) at Sesimbra
LBBG Blue Y8 (from Belgium) at Sesimbra
LBBG Blue P+H (from Bristol, England) at Sesimbra
Yellow-legged Gulls at Sesimbra