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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Arrival Dates for Lesser Black-backed Gulls in Guernsey in 2010

Throughout the late autumn and winter 2009/10 I have checked Guernsey's north and west coasts for Lesser Black-backed Gulls at least twice each week. Over this period maximum counts were around half a dozen gulls on each coastline - and none was colour ringed. It is reasonable to assume that every one of my colour ringed adults and young from 2009 left Guernsey for the winter.

I have made considerable efforts this year to try to record as many arrival dates for the returning Lesser Black-backed Gulls as possible with near daily visits (albeit sometimes very brief!) to the Chouet area from the 3rd week in January. The following are the first dates of each returning colour ringed gull - and the countries they have been recorded in over the autumn/winter 2009/10. As expected all records refer to adult gulls (except 5.Z7...which is the first of my 2nd Winter colour ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls to return to the islands). Up until the end of February 29 "Guernsey" colour ringed gulls had returned.

15 January 3.T8

21 January 6.Z8

25 January 1.T6

                  8.Z0 Portugal and France

01 February 9.Z5

08 February 0.Z6

10 February 0.U2

17 February 3.V2

19 February 2.T6

                     7S6 Spain and Portugal

                     5.Z7 Spain and Portugal (2nd winter)



20 February 6.T8



21 February 8.Z3

23 February 0.T9 Portugal

                    9.T9 Spain

                    5.T0 France


24 February 1.T2


25 February 8.Z8 France

26 February 7.T9 Portugal

27 February 2.T1


                    4.Z1 Spain

                    7S2 France

In addition four adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls carrying only Jersey metal rings have been identified - but these are excluded from the summary above as metal rings are very difficult to read in the field, and it is most unlikely that I have read these metal rings on the first occasion that I saw the individual gulls back in Guernsey.

Stormy Morning in Guernsey & News of Guernsey Gulls from Malaga, Spain

February went out in style in Guernsey with high winds and a big spring tide combining to give some flooding along the west coast. The height of the tide was before by the time we could get out to see the coastline the water was already dropping. was stil rather wild. The gulls were riding the winds and feeding on the stirred up shoreline.

Gulls in rough seas at Perelle, Guernsey - 28 February 2010 - PKV

Gulls at Perelle, Guernsey - 28 February 2010 PKV

Yesterday Salva Garcia saw three Lesser Black-backed Gulls from Alderney at Malaga Port, Malaga, Spain. One of these White 3.U5 was ringed as an adult male on Burhou on 12 June 2009. Fron 24 September to 1st October it was recorded at Quarteira, Algarve, Portugal (Michael Davis), and then Salva has seen it three times over the winter at Malaga Port from 5th December. As I have commented before I believe the "non-landfill feeding" gulls nesting in Burhou do so later than those in Guernsey, Herm and Sark (which birds do visit Chouet landfill). It is not therefore surprising that this adult is still in southern Spain at a time when several of the Guernsey, Herm and Sark nesting Lesser Black-backed Gulls are already back in Guernsey!
LBBG White 3.U5 Quarteria, Portugal - September 2009 - Michael Davis

The other two Lesser Black-backed Gulls seen in Malaga yesterday by Salva were both 1st winter birds ringed on Burhou, Alderney in July 2009 - White 4.V0 and White 8.V3. Neither had any prior sightings histories.
LBBG White 4.V0 and White 8.V3 Burhou, Alderney - July 2009 - Catherine Veron

Another Superb Early Morning at Chouet

It was a difficult decision this morning whether to enter Chouet landfill or wait for the gulls on the beach (where they often gather after feeding in the landfill). With the tide falling I gambled on the beach - and this turned out to be the better decision. Most of the gulls feasted quickly in the landfill then immediately transeferred to the beach for a bathe before resting in full view.

Gulls Resting on Chouet landfill Beach 27/02/10 - PKV

Lesser Black-backed Gull numbers reached just over 300 birds - and of these 15 were my colour-ringed birds. This included four newly arrived birds:-

White 7S2 - an adult male ringed in our garden at Ty Coed, Vale Marais, Guernsey on 01/06/08 - and recorded 14 times at Chouet in 2009 from 19 March to 29 August. It was then seen on 09/10/09 at Pointe des Trois Pierres, Saint Denis d'Oléron, Vendee, France (Benjamin Griard).

LBBG White 7S2 Chouet Landfill Beach 27/02/10 - PKV

White 4.Z1 ringed as an adult female in our garden at Ty Coed, Guernsey on 17/05/09, and recorded on 29 May 09 at Chouet, before wintering in Iberia - with a sighting at Malaga Port, Malaga, Spain on 22/12/09 (Salva Garcia & Hannu Koskinen).

LBBG White 4.Z1 Chouet landfill Beach - 27/02/10 - PKV

White 2.T1, ringed on 31/05/09 at Ty Coed, Guernsey (and seen twice in early July 2009 at Chouet) also returned today from unknown wintering grounds - as did White 1.Z7 (originally ringed as an adult female at Chouet landfill on 04/04/09 and only seen in Guernsey in April 2009).

LBBG White 1.Z7 Chouet landfill Beach - April 2009 - PKV

Amongst the Lesser Black-backed Gulls already seen back home this spring were White 7S6, White 7.T9 and White 2.T1

LBBG White 7S6 making itself heard at Chouet landfill Beach - 27/02/10 - PKV

LBBG White 2.T1 Chouet Landfill Beach - 27/02/10 - PKV

LBBG White 7.T9 Chouet landfill Beach 27/02/10 - PKV

Only one of the six colour-ringed Great Black-backed Gulls was local (Yellow 0P0). The other five were all French - three from Le Havre, Seine-Maritime, (Gilles Le Guillou) and two from Chausey Islands, Manche (Seb Provost). All five birds were already known to me - but Blue 56D had only ever been seen once before in Guernsey (at Chouet landfill on 20 October 2008).

GBBG Green E.95 Chouet Landfill Beach 27/02/10 - PKV

76 locally cr Herring Gulls were recorded - including White 4.FF8, which had been ringed as an adult male on 05/06/10 at Chouet landfill before being spotted on 16.08.09 at Dolus d’Oleron, Charente-Maritime, France (Arnoud Sponge). This gull was first seen back in Guernsey on 16/02/10.

Herring Gull White 4.FF8 Chouet Landfill Beach 27/02/10 - PKV

Saturday, February 27, 2010

2nd Lesser Black-backed Gull with African History seen at Chouet & Return of another Larus fuscus from Iberia

In yesterday's strong NW winds there was a good flock of c 150 Lesser Black-backed Gulls sheltering on the storm beach at Chouet landfill Beach. Amongst these gulls was Red (white code) 9KF - a bird ringed as a chick on Flatholm Island, Wales (Brian Bailey) on 27/06/02. It was then seen on 08/01/03 at the legendary Tan Tan Plage, Morocco, on 19/02/06 at Lisbon, Portugal and at the Sandwell Valley, Caerphilly, Wales on 31/08/06. This is only the second Larus fuscus observed at Chouet which has a sightings history including Africa. The other was Brown 6HF (another of Brian Bailey's birds from Flatholm), which was seen at Chouet Landfill on 06/02/10.

Also seen sheltering on the beach was one of my own Lesser Black-backed Gulls with an interesting history. This was White 7.T9. Originally ringed as an adult male at Chouet landfil on 06/06/09, this gull was seen on 01/07/09 and 21/08/09 at Chouet, Guernsey, before being spotted on 25/09/09 at Portimao, Algarve, Portugal (Rob Voesten and Stef Waasdorp) and Quarteira, Algarve, Portugal on 28/09/09 (Michael Davis).

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lesser Black-backed Gull White 3.Z2 seen in Northern Spain

I was very pleased last evening to receive a report from Nacho Vega of Lesser Black-backed Gull White 3.Z2 at El Musel harbour, Gijón, Asturias, Spain. This gull was ringed as an adult male on 10 May 2009 in our garden at Ty Coed, Vale Marais. Apart from two further sightings of this gull in May 2009 at Chouet, Guernsey, it was not reported again until Nacho's sighting. This is all the more interesting as I have received rather few sightings of my adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls on their north bound journies back to Guernsey this spring. I hope over the next few years to colour ring a larger sample of Guernsey's breeding Lesser Black-backed Gulls so that I can obtain improved data on their fascinating migrations.

Guernsey Herring Gull Seen in Germany!

News came in yesterday of a Herring Gull (White 0N9) ringed as a chick on Jerbourg Cliffs, in Guernsey in June 2004 by Jamie Hooper being seen on 24 February 2010 at Flensburg, Germany (near the Danish border) by Peter Gleisenstein. This bird had been seen in Guernsey on 11/03/05 and from 22/09/08 to 19/05/09. This is a very unusual movement for a locally raised Guernsey Herring Gull.

There is one previous record of a colour-ringed Herring Gull from Jamie Hooper’s project being seen in Germany, but this bird was ringed as an adult in April 2000 – and so its natal area is unknown. This gull (White 0F1) was recorded in Guernsey nine times from 19/04/01 to 17/10/01 and then three times in May 2002. It was in Guernsey on 07/11/02, but then next reported from Rantumbecken, Sylt, Germany (G Ernst) on 02/01/03. It returned to Guernsey where it was seen on 14/07/04 and 30/08/08.

Gale force NW winds made gull watching incredibly difficult at Chouet this morning. All three cr Lesser Black-backed Gulls recorded had already been seen in Guernsey this spring. The highlight was an unringed adult Mediterranean Gull on L'Ancresse Common.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

French-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull at Chouet in pouring rain

With the tide pushing gulls close to the car park at Chouet landfill Beach I managed to pick up all but the end digit of a metal-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull. The bird appeared to be in its 3rd winter and carried a metal ring on its right tarsus - Paris DA26367?. Hopefully this may be enough to know the ringing site for this Larus fuscus.

Herring Gull From SW England

The six colour-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls at Chouet landfill Beach this morning included only one newly arrived bird – White 8.Z8. This gull was ringed as an adult male at its nest on one of the Sark colonies on 20/05/09. It was observed eight times on the north coast of Guernsey up until 29/08/09. It was then seen on 29/12/09 at Tanchet, Sable d’Olonne, Vendee, France (Franck Salmon).

LBBG White 8.Z8 Chouet landfill Beach - June 2009 - PKV

LBBG White 8.Z8 Tanchet, Sable d’Olonne, Vendee, France - 29/12/09 Franck Salmon

The other highlight this morning was the sighting, amongst the 67 colour-ringed Herring Gulls of Grey D+G – a 1st winter bird ringed by Peter Rock on 28 June 2009 at Gloucester, England and seen once previously on 22/10/09 on the Hayle Estuary, Cornwall, England.

Herring Gull Grey D+G Chouet landfill Beach 25/02/10 - PKV

Herring Gull Grey D+G Chouet landfill Beach 25/02/10 - PKV

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Windy and Wet Day...but new Lesser Black-backed Gulls continue to arrive home.

There were rather unpleasant conditions today for gull watching - with rain and strong winds. However, there was still plenty of activity at Chouet early in the morning, with several hundred gulls bathing and resting on Chouet landfill Beach. 56 Herring Gull colour rings were read (all locals), along with four Great Black-backed Gulls (two locals and two well known 2nd Winter Gulls from Chausey Islands, France (Seb Provost) - Green B.09 and Green B.36.

All three Lesser Black-backed Gulls seen in the morning had already been recorded back home this spring - White 8.Z0, 8.Z3 and 2.U1.

LBBG White 8.Z3 - well fed after a trip to Chouet landfill - 24/02/10 - PKV

LBBG White 2.U1 Chouet landfill Beach 24/02/10 - PKV

A very brief visit at lunch time brought the bird of the day - Lesser Black-backed Gull 1.V9. This gull was ringed as an adult male in our garden at Ty Coed, Vale Marais on 21/06/09. I then recorded  it five times at Chouet up to 14/08/09. It was then observed on 29/12/09 at Bastiagueiro Beach, Oleiros, A Coruña, Spain (Serge Paris).

LBBG White 1.V9 Ty Coed, Guernsey - June 2009 - PKV

LBBG White 1.V9 Chouet Landfill Beach 24/02/10 - PKV

Herring Gull White 2.MM2 Chouet landfill Beach 24/02/10 - PKV

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Guernsey Lesser Black-backed Gulls Come Home

Another very quick trip to Chouet at lunch time resulted in the sighting of six of my colour ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls. These included White 0.Z6, 1.T6 and 3.V2 – all of which I had already recorded back in the island this spring. However, there were also three new birds. White 9.T9 is a favourite gull of mine. It was ringed as an adult in Chouet landfill on 06/06/09, and was then recorded twice in July at Chouet, Guernsey. However…on 02/08/09 it was already at Esmelle Beach, A Coruna, Spain where Antonio Gutierrez and Paco Veiga then recorded it on 23 days up until it was last seen on 16 October 2009.

LBBG White 9.T9 Esmelle Beach, A Coruna, Spain - Sept 09 - Antonio Gutierrez

LBBG White 9.T9 Chouet landfill, Guernsey 23/02/10 - PKV

LBBG White 5.T0 was also ringed as an adult on 04/06/09 at Chouet landfill. It was seen at the landfill a couple of times up until 20 July 2009. It was next recorded on 26/08/09 Champteusse-sur-Baconne, Maine-et-Loire, France (Alain Fossé). It was also seen there on 02 and 21 September 2009.

LBBG White 5.T0 Chouet Landfill Beach July 2009 - PKV

LBBG White 5.T0 at Chouet landfill 23/02/10 - PKV

Finally White 1.U7 – another adult (male) ringed on 06/06/09 at Chouet landfill was seen back in Guernsey for the first time this spring. Unusually…this was the first sighting of this gull since ringing.

LBBG White 1.U7 Chouet landfill 23/02/10 - PKV

Lesser Black-backed Gull White 0.T9 Home from Portugal

It was only possible to visit Chouet for 15 minutes early in the morning today – so I could not record very much. Luckily many of the 140+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls seen were bathing and resting on the beaches enabling me to check through very quickly for colour rings. Only two were found – White 0.T9 ringed as an adult male in our garden at Ty Coed on 24/05/09 and seen six times at Chouet until 09/08/09. It was then recorded on 23/09/09 at Costa da Caparica, Extremadura, Portugal (Paulo Marques). This is only the second Lesser Black-backed Gull known to have travelled to Iberia last autumn/winter to have been relocated in Guernsey so far this spring.

LBBG White 0.T9 Ty Coed 24/05/09 - Catherine Veron

LBBG White 0.T9 Chouet landfill Beach 09/08/09 - PKV

LBBG White 0.T9 Chouet landfill Beach 23/02/10 - PKV (Take my word for it!)

The other colour ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull seen today was White 6.Z8, which was known to have wintered at landfills in NW France – and which was first seen back in Guernsey on 21/01/10.

Finally…Phil Alexander sent me a very nice photograph of the 1st Winter Glaucous Gull, which was still being seen at Chouet and adjacent Jaonneusse Bay up until Sunday 21st February 2010.

1st W Glaucous Gull Jaonneusse Bay, Guernsey 21 February 2010 - Phil Alexander

Monday, February 22, 2010

News in From France and Further News of Herring Gull White 0P0

Today I received reports of two of my cr Lesser Black-backed Gulls from France. The first involved Black 0.C7 (ringed as a chick on Burhou on 10 July 2009). This gull had been reported early in 2010 in Saint Cyr-sur-Loire (Benjamin Griard) and Maine-et-Loire (Fabrice Rayer). Today I learnt that it had been seen as early as 27/08/09 at Le Vivier-sur-Mer, Manche, France (Cyril Maurer).

LBBG Black 0.C7 Burhou, Alderney 10/07/09 - Catherine Veron

LBBG Black 0.C7 Le Vivier sur Mer, France 27/08/09 - Cyril Maurer

I also received news today that LBBG White 0T5 - an adult female ringed in our garden at Ty Coed, Vale Marais on 24 May 2009 (and seen four times at Chouet landfill until 22/08/09) had been seen on 19/02/10 at Glaintain Landfill, Saint-Fraimbault de Prières, Mayenne, France (Daviod Madiot). This gull had already been observed at La Séguinière, Maine-et-Loire on 04/12/09 (Alain Fossé), and at Noyant, Soulaire-et-Bourg, Maine-et-Loire on 11/02/10 (Fabrice Rayer).

Finally César Álvarez  very kindly informed me that Herring Gull White 0P0 (the subject of the blog posting earlier today) had also been seen at  Avilés estuary, Spain (43.35N 05.55W) on 19.03.08.

Another 10 Year Old Lesser Black-backed Gull Recorded

It was wet and grey this morning before work. Nevertheless Chouet landfill was busy with gulls, and there were good numbers on the beaches too. Once again I struggled to find any of my cr Lesser Black-backed Gulls amongst the 130+ birds checked. White 8.Z3 which was first seen yesterday was still present in the landfill, but the only other "Guernsey" LBBG recorded was a metal ring - Jersey E 7792. This Lesser Black-backed Gull was ringed as a chick on one of the Sark colonies by Jamie Hooper and Catherine (then Kinnersly) on 10 July 1999.

LBBG E 7792 Chouet Landfil Beach 22/02/10 - PKV

41 locally colour ringed Herring Gulls were recorded, including White 6B9. This bird was ringed as a chick by Jamie Hooper at Jerbourg Cliffs, Guernsey in June 1998. It was then seen a few times in Guernsey until 19/09/04...then not again until this morning. It is a bit of a puzzle where this bird has been for the past 5.5 years!

Herring Gull White 6B9 Chouet Landfill Beach - 22/02/10 - PKV

With the tide slowly rising the gulls on Chouet landfil Beach came closer and closer to the car - despite all the noise and activity in the waste recycling area.

Herring Gull White 5.KK0 Chouet Landfill Beach 22/02/10 - PKV

A couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls at Chouet Landfill Beach 22/02/10 - PKV

Gulls at Chouet landfill Beach 22/02/10 - PKV

Sunday, February 21, 2010

One More Lesser Black-backed Gull Home

With Chouet Landfill closed on Sundays, it is much harder to find good numbers of gulls. The best gathering early today was on Chouet Beach where 400+ gulls were bathing and resting. This flock included 82 Lesser Black-backed Gulls - but only one was colour ringed. This was White 8.Z3 - an adult male ringed on 20 May 2009 on one of the Sark colonies. I recorded it seven times over the summer at Chouet and adjacent L'Ancresse Common - up to 14 August 2009. It then disappeared for unknown wintering grounds.

Gulls on Chouet Beach 21 February 2010 - PKV

There were also several hundred Herring Gulls, and a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls, on Pembroke Bay, where the light was very beautiful before the first of the morning's heavy showers.

Herring Gulls on Pembroke Bay shortly after dawn - 21 February 2010 - PKV

Amongst the 20 colour ringed Herring Gulls observed this morning was White 0P0. This gull was ringed by Jamie Hooper as a chick at Pleinmont Cliffs, Guernsey in June 2005. It is an unusual Herring Gull because it migrated as far as NW Spain in its early years - being seen at Ares Beach, A Coruna on 18/01/07 (Antonio Gutierrez). Until today, I had only seen this gull in Guernsey over the period 14/03/09 - 18/04/09. 

Herring Gull White 0P0 Chouet Landfill Beach - 21 February 2010 - PKV

Herring Gull White 0P0 at Ares Beach, A Coruna, Spain 18 January 2007 - Antonio Gutierrez

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More Lesser Black-backed Gulls Come Home!

A very fine session at Chouet landfill from first light until 1000 resulted in 10 "Guernsey" Lesser Black-backed Gulls being recorded - and of these six were seen for the first time today. Numbers swelled to around 120 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The newly arrived gulls were:-

White 2.U1 ringed as an adult female on 06/06/09 at Chouet landfill, and recorded twice at Chouet on 8th and 11th August 2009 before disappearing to (unknown) wintering grounds;

LBBG White 2.U1 Chouet Landfuill Beach 11/08/09 - PKV

LBBG White 2.U1 Chouet landfill 20 February 2010 - PKV

White 6.T8 ringed as an adult female on 06/06/09 at Chouet landfill and recorded on 3rd and 15th July 2009 before disappearing to (unknown) wintering grounds;

White 9.T5 originally ringed on 09/07/1992 as a chick on Burhou, Alderney and caught at Chouet landfill on 04/06/09 (when we added the colour ring). Recorded once more on 31 July 2009 before disappearing for (unknown) wintering grounds;

LBBG White 9.T5 Chouet Landfill Beach - 31 July 2009 - PKV

LBBG White 9.T5 Chouet landfill 20 February 2010

E 5868 ringed as a chick on one of the Sark colonies by me on 05/07/1994;

LBBG E 5868 Chouet landfill 20 February 2010 - PKV

E 14542 ringed as an adult male on 29/05/06 in our garden at Ty Coed, Vale Marais; and

LBBG E 14542 Chouet landfill 20 February 2010 - PKV

E 14542 Chouet landfill 20/02/10 - PKV

E 14932 ringed as an adult male on 18/05/08 in our garden at Ty Coed. I read this ring on Chouet landfill Beach on 30 April 2009.

The other Lesser Black-backed Gulls seen already this year were White 7S6, 5.Z7, 8.Z0 and E 4421.

LBBG 5.Z7 Chouet landfill 20 February 2010 - PKV

LBBG E 4421 Chouet landfill 20 February 2010 - PKV

LBBG White 8.Z0 Chouet Landfill 20 February 2010 - PKV

A total of 78 colour-ringed Herring Gulls was recorded - all local except one from Jersey (Green ABD) (Ian Buxton) and one known bird from Gloucester, England Blue BHC Peter Stewart).