Report Guernsey Colour Ringed Gulls

Sightings of Guernsey colour ringed Gulls can be entered here for an instant life history, or sent to for a life history to be returned by e-mail to observers.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gull Study Gets Even More Interesting

Now that we have been colour ringing gull chicks for five summers, the Bailiwick gull studies are entering another new and exciting phase, as we get ever increasing numbers of summer sightings of birds that are approaching breeding age. While the majority of such reports come from the Channel Islands, we are also receiving news from further afield. A good example is a report received recently from Sam Baxter of LBBG Black 5.P8. This gull was ringed as a chick on Burhou in July 2010. Having been recorded in Spain and Portugal during its first two winters, it is now in Pembrokeshire, Wales. We do not yet know whether this 3rd summer gull is prospecting a nesting site in Wales or just wandering ...eventually to return to breed in its natal colony. Hopefully future sightings of this, and other such immature gulls, will help us to gain a much better understanding of the migration and dispersal of our Channel Islands gulls.
 LBBG Black 5.P8 Doninos Beach, A Coruna, Spain 12 August 2011 (c) Paco Veiga
The Movements of LBBG Black 5.P8

Saturday, April 27, 2013

When is a yellow-legged Gull not a Yellow-legged Gull?

Answer = When it is a Herring Gull with yellow legs! I don't know if this is a Guernsey phenomenon, but when I began my gull studies here in 2008, I was regularly confused by apparent "Herring Gulls" which have yellow legs (even bright yellow). This is most obvious in the summer, when leg colouration intensifies with the breeding season. I've always been cautious to identify true Yellow legged Gulls (i.e. Larus michahellis) because of the presence of these yellow-legged argentatus. However, I've now seen several michahellis in the hand and also some of the peculiar argentatus. One such bird in White 6.UU3 (originally ringed in May 2010 in our garden, and now seen c 20 times in Guernsey including today at Chouet Landfill). The photos below show just how yellow the legs can be...but note the normal pale mantle of argentatus and also the orange (not red) orbital ring.
I do not know if these yellow-legged pale mantled birds are hybrids, and if so what has crossed with argentatus, - presumably mostly fuscus, but perhaps michahellis?
Adult Yellow-legged Gulls tend to stand out in Guernsey because they are always seen in the presence of Herring Gulls. The mantle is so dark that it is almost always the factor which draws attention to the gull. Then you notice the (normally) bright yellow legs and the red orbital ring. Often it is also possible to see the larger red spot on the bill. 2nd and 3rd Winter michahellis are also fairly easy to identify in Guernsey (showing most of the above distinguishing marks)...but we are not making a very good job of identifying juvenile and 1st winter michahellis. They must be scarce, but present in small numbers every year,...but it it remains a gaping hole in our ornithological knowledge on Guernsey at the moment. Sooner or later someone is going to master their identification here! 

 All above photos are Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)White 6.UU3
 Herring Gull 6.UU3 when ringed in May 2010
Herring Gull 6.UU3 in February 2012 (note much paler legs)
Below all Yellow-legged Gulls (Larus michahellis)

 Herring Gull on left Yellow-legged Gull on right (note darker mantle)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Return of the Youngsters

I really like this time of year (for lots of reasons)...but one of the many gull highlights is the growing number of immature gulls which turn up at Chouet. Unsurprisingly it is the adult gulls that are keenest to get back to their nesting grounds each early spring, but by mid-late April the number of youngsters noticeably increases. One such LBBG is Black 0.H4 ringed as a chick on Burhou in July 2009, and recorded in Iberia in  the winters of 2010 and 2012 Today it was on Chouet Landfill Beach. It will no doubt return this summer to its natal colony.It is strange because there are now lots of 3rd calendar year LBBGs on the beaches, but none so far with rings, as 2011 was the year in which our LBBGs had a near total breeding failure in all the colonies.

 LBBG Black 0.H4 at Chouet 23 June 2012 (c) PKV
LBBG Black 0.H4 at Quarteira, Portugal 25 November 2012 (c) Michael Davis
LBBG Black 0.H4 Chouet 26 April 2013 (c) PKV

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ring Reading Record Smashed Again!

Last Friday, with a good combination of tide and weather, I smashed my previous record for LBBG sightings, with 211 recorded in a couple of hours at Chouet. In addition I recorded c 50 Herring Gulls and a handful of GBBGs (including two French and the long-staying Norwegian bird). This is probably about as good as it gets, because after recording this lot I definitely needed to rest my eyes and get a cup of coffee! Many of the birds were at close range too, but I was very focused on ring reading rather than photography  It is important to record as many of my birds back in the Islands as possible and the weekend provided the sort of opportunity not to be missed. On Saturday  Chris Mourant and I tried to ring some gulls in the landfill, but once again they were not at all interested. The following day, Chris, Catherine, Sophie and I managed to begin the 2013 Seabird Monitoring with a quick trip out to one of the Great Cormorant colonies, where we ringed ten chicks.
 Gulls on Chouet Beach
 Gulls on Chouet Landfill Beach
Great Cormorants Black CK & CL

Sophie with Great Cormorant Black CF

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Do Sibling Gulls Migrate Together?

I don't know the answer to this question, but have always thought it most unlikely. However, in the past week Juan Ruiz of the Madrid Gull Team has reported both Lesser Black-backed Gulls Black 1AS9 and Black 2AS0 at Pinto Landfill, Madrid. Often I do not know which gulls are siblings because they are running around in bracken away from the nests when we ring them, but with these two gulls there is a very high likelihood that they are from the same nest. Both were ringed on Burhou, Alderney on 14 July 2012. Is it pure coincidence that they are both now at the same landfill in central Spain in the same week, or have they travelled south together? Hopefully over the months ahead we may get more reports of these gulls and be able to shed a little more light on this little mystery of migration.
LBBGs Black 1AS9 and 2AS0 on Burhou - July 2012 (c) PKV

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Another Norwegian LBBG at Chouet

On a generally quieter morning than yesterday at Chouet, the highlight amongst the c 100 colour ringed LBBGs recorded was Blue J1CX. This gull was ringed as a chick on Rauna, Vest-Agder, Norway in July 2005, and had only been recorded once before today, at Namur, Belgium on 14 July 2007.

LBBG Blue J1CX at Chouet (c) PKV

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A New Record for LBBG Colour Ring Reads at Chouet

Although the weather was dull this morning, Chouet landfill Beach was on fire...back to its very best (after a somewhat quiet start to the spring). A new record of 147 colour rings were read on Lesser Black-backed Gulls (all local birds...except one metal ring London GC76778). In addition 51 Herring Gull rings were read, including Pale Blue B67A (ringed at Le Havre, Seine-Maritime, France). Only three GBBG rings were read, and two of these were  metal rings - the birds having been ringed locally as chicks in 2006 and 2007. A beautiful 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull completed a stunning early morning at Chouet.
 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull
 Chouet Landfill Beach

 LBBG London GC76778

 Herring Gull Pale Blue B67A
 GBBGS Jersey J0076 & J0583