An hour at Chouet this morning gave plenty of evidence of the
continuing arrival back in the islands of Lesser Black-backed Gulls which have
been absent all winter. The tide was not ideal, but I managed to record 17 of my
colour ringed LBBGs, along with c 50 colour ringed Herring Gulls. I would expect
the strong arrivals of LBBGs to continue now for several weeks.
Making the short drive to Chouet Landfill early on Saturday, I thought a lazy start to the day with a cup of tea in bed may have been the wiser option...as the mist was so thick it was difficult to see more than a few metres ahead. However...what a good move it turned out to be! Once inside the landfill I was able to get close enough to the hoards of gulls to make ring reading very easy. Today was the first day when Lesser Black-backed Gulls were common at the landfill, with c 150 birds in the first two hours - including 21 of my cr birds - many recorded for the first time after wintering in Iberia! It is always such a thrill to welcome the birds home for another season! In addition I recorded c 100 of my locally colour ringed Herring Gulls. The 1st winter Iceland Gull had been present on Friday, but there was no sign of it today. One Yellow-legged Gull was the only scarce gull present at the landfill.
In what has turned out to be a golden period for LBBG sightings, I've just received news of 14 sightings, involving seven birds, from the Norwegian Gull Group, who visited Morocco and Western Sahara for a week of intensive gull colour ring reading in the early February. Interestingly all the gulls were ringed as adults (at Chouet Landfill, Ty Coed, Vale Marais, Guernsey and on Burhou, Alderney), and three of them were observed in the same wintering area in NW Africa as in the previous winter - in fact I had even seen two of these gulls myself at Anza, Agadir, Morocco in December 2010. Last summer these gulls were observed back in the Channel Islands! My thanks to the Norwegian Team for all their hard work!
From 16-19 February 2012 Catherine and I attended the
11th International Gull Meeting in Zagreb, Croatia. A few days ago I
posted an article about the fieldwork sessions from the Conference where we
observed a range of gulls at Zagreb Landfill on the Saturday, and then colour
ringed some the following day. However, the Conference also had a very varied
and informative series of presentations from a number of gull enthusiasts from
around Europe. These talks covered areas as diverse as ecology and migration to
identification of some very difficult races. Naturally I took the opportunity to
make a presentation on the gull projects being run in the Bailiwick of
Our sincere thanks to the Association of Biological Research
(BIOM), Croatia, and to Luka Jurinovic and his small team of colleagues who
hosted such an enjoyable and successful Conference!
A full list if presentations was as follows:-
Saunders’s Gull and Relict Gull, two specialized and threatened
species Chris Gibbins Is it
possible to identify heinei Common Gulls in the field? Risto Juvaste Sexing of gull chicks by measurements Risto Juvaste
Exciting (but yet secret) results from 127 GPS-transmitter LBBG-migration
project Peter Rock Urban
gulls Paul Roper North
Thames Gull Group Paul Veron Guernsey
Gulls – An outline of the research projects being run on the three Larid species
breeding in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, English Channel Zsolt Karcza & Peter Szinai
Gull colour ringing in Hungary
1994-2011 Nick Rossiter Yellow-legged Gull: Differences between Atlantic and Mediterranean
populations Ruud Altenburg Extent of post-juvenile moult in first winter
michahellis Mars Muusse ID of
second calendar year Larus heuglini Morten Helberg Were
do Norwegian gulls migrate? Results from read ringing data from southern Norway
1995-present Luka Jurinović Gulls in Croatia: species, statuses and numbers Jelena Kralj Movements of eastern Adriatic Yellow-legged Gulls – 12 years of
colour-ringing Vladimir Savić Influenza viruses in gulls Viola Ross-Smith Gull migration: calibrating colour ringing data with GPS
telemetry Aonghais Cook Analysis of colour-ringing data: Maximising the impact of your
For Luka's view of the weekend visit his excellent blog Ringing in Croatia http://cro-ringing.blogspot.com/
Catherine and I have just returned from the 11th International Gull Meeting, held in Zagreb, Croatia from 16 - 19 February. The meeting was very informative and successful, as well as being most enjoyable. I will make a separate posting about the IGM, but while we were there our host Luka Jurinovik teamed up with Paul Roper of the North Thames Gull Group to cannon net some gulls in Zagreb Landfill. On Sunday in two firings of the net we caught 80 gulls, including 12 Caspian Gulls and even more Yellow-legged Gulls, as well as Croatia's first ever ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull, an argentatus Herring Gull, some Common Gulls and Black-headed Gulls. This gave us a superb opportunity to see the range of plumages related to age and geographical area in some of these gulls.
For much better photos of a range of gulls on the landfill please visit the following link created by Mars Muusse on the excellent Gull Research Organisation web site.
One of the Lesser Black-backed Gull chicks ringed on Burhou in July 2010, and which was recorded by Michael Davis at Quarteira, Faro, Portugal in Octoberof that year was reported by Clive Barlow from Tanji Bird Reserve, The Gambia on 15 February 2012 - a straight line distance of 4,256 km! Although a small minority of LBBGs from Western Europe are known to winter this far south, this is the first evidence that Channels Islands birds make such long migrations. The photos below show just how advanced this gull is in its moult...and the Clive Barlow's photo shows the gull in rather illustrious company at Tanji!
I am very very happy with this amazing report!
LBBG Black 6.T5 Tanji, The Gambia - 15 February 2012 - Clive Barlow
LBBG Black 6.T5 Quarteira, Faro, Portugal 02 October 2010 - Michael Davis
Chris Mourant, Mish Hooper and I came so very close this morning to catching the 1st Winter Iceland Gull that has been around for the past couple of days! The bird came down in the garden with a small feeding party of Herring Gulls - it even landed in the correct area, but somehow (and I'll never know how!)...it evaded capture...and all we were left with for the morning's efforts were two re-trap Herring Gulls. After nearly four decades of bird ringing I'm well used to experiencing disappointment when the birds beat me...but for a short while it still tastes bitter!
Oh well...there's always next week...when I hope to be cannon netting gulls in Zagreb Landfill!
With cold weather and a big high tide soon after dawn, it was always going to be a good session at Chouet landfill this morning - but I did not expect a record breaking morning. The highlights included:-
2 or 3 adult Yellow-legged Gulls - including White 1CA9, which we ringed at Chouet last May (but unfortunately it remained unrecorded again until today);
A 1st Winter Iceland Gull;
10 returning ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls; and
A staggering 234 colour ringed Herring Gulls.
All in all it was one of the most enjoyable ring reading sessions for a long time!