The twin highlights of a quick visit to Pembroke and Chouet Landfill Beaches this morning were a Lesser Black-backed Gull in its 24th year (ringed by me as a chick on Burhou in July 1989) and an adult Yellow-legged Gull.
I've just received an e-mail from Antonio Gutierrez with news that the first two adult LBBGs known to be in Guernsey this summer have reached the beaches of NW Spain! Black 5AL0 and Black 0AK2 (both ringed at Chouet landfill in May 2012) were on Esmelle Beach, A Coruna (in fact they are probably still on the beach as I type this entry!).
LBBG Black 5AL0 Chouet Landfill Beach 09 June 2012 - PKV
With the gull ringing season behind me, it was a case of back to the beaches with the telescope this morning – and my goodness…it was very enjoyable! I was at Pembroke Beach just before 0600. I stayed for 40 minutes watching the gull flock on the sand swelling as more and more birds dropped in. 72 gull colour ring reads were taken – 47 Herring, 20 LBBG and five GBBG. The pick of the bunch were my first three juvenile cr Herring Gulls (two from Jethou and one from Lihou). It is always such a thrill to see these first youngsters on the beaches in mid-late July.
I then spent nearly an hour at Chouet Landfill Beach recording another 87 colour rings (76 LBBG, 10 Herring Gulls and one GBBG). Amongst the Herring Gulls were two more juvenile birds from Lihou Island. Although no colour ringed LBBG juveniles were seen today, there were a few fledged youngsters on the beaches, some begging from their parents as only gull juveniles can!
Wow..it's been a really difficult season to get the ringing work completed...but we are just about there now. Trips to Burhou, Alderney and Sark have resulted in just over 200 Lesser Black-backed Gull chicks being ringed, which given the persistently wet, windy and cool weather throughout the season has been something of a triumph for the parent gulls! As a finale the small Guernsey Gulls Team took a catch of 50 full grown gulls in the garden this morning - a wonderful end to a very rewarding season!
Unfortunately we're not making much progress with the seabird monitoring given the incredible run of windy weather and rough seas, preventing us from landing on most of the colonies. Time is beginning to beat us now...and more and more birds are fledging unringed! At least we managed a gull catch in the garden over the weekend. After several hours with no luck we thought we would draw a complete blank...but in a manic two minute spell we took a large catch and ringed c 65 gulls including 11 Lesser Black-backed Gulls! Amongst them was a metal-ringed bird E4637, which I had ringed as a chick in one of the Sark colonies in July 1990 - making this gull almost 22 years old! In the same catch was a Herring Gull (Yellow 4B8) colour ringed by the late Bob Burrow in June 1999 in Jersey. Amazingly this bird had not been recorded at all in the intervening 13 years...how can that be?!
LBBG Black 8AN3 (Jersey E4637) a 22 year old bird!
P.S. Non gull footnote! - Two Kestrel chicks have just fledged from the "owl" box in the background of the photo!