Within the past few days I’ve just returned from a very nice week on holiday in the French Alps, where Nutcrackers, Alpine Choughs and Crag Martins made a very pleasant change from Guernsey’s birds. However, while I’ve been away lots has been happening with our gulls both at home and abroad! At home the pattern has now changed there are few Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the northern beaches. The birds that remain in the Islands are mainly to be found in flocks along the west coast, particularly at Vazon, Perelle and L’Eree beaches, although often the flock is found roosting on L’Eree Aerodrome (no longer in use) where the grass is too long to be able to read rings. So now for the next 6 weeks or so I have to drive further and check more beaches. This is the pattern that emerges each autumn at this time.
The majority of the breeding LBBGs have now left Guernsey, with reports coming in daily now from NW Spain mainly from Antonio Gutierrez and José Vidal, but also from other observers. One LBBG recently made the 1,000 km flight in a maximum of three days! The birds which have been arriving in NW Spain throughout the past month are continuing their migrations with more and more being reported from Portugal. In fact Tim Van Nus reported 30 Guernsey colour ringed LBBGs from a single site (Taboeira Landfill, Aveiro) on 24 August – a record number of Guernsey birds abroad in one site!
Today Antonio reported the first 2012 LBBG chick (from Sark) at Esmelle Beach, A Coruna. Strangely none of the 202 LBBG chicks colour ringed on Burhou, Alderney this summer has yet been reported overseas.
It is also apparent that many of the Herring Gulls nesting in the islands have also left the Islands. So far the reports of these gulls have come mainly from the north-east coasts of France from Manche through Calvados as far as Somme…but soon most of the foreign reports are likely to be from Vendee and Charente-Maritime.
Great Black-backed Gulls are beginning to wander with two 2012 chicks from the Chausey islands, Manche being seen on the island, while several of our immature birds are being reported from SW England, including the first 2012 chick.
Finally Julian Medland recently saw a colour ringed 1st year Black-headed Gull, which was ringed earlier this summer near Antwerp, Belgium. All in all an exciting time for gull movements!
Pantín Beach, A Coruna, Spain (c) Antonio Gutierrez - this explains why LBBGs are much less numerous in Guernsey now!