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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An early visit to Sark

Catherine and I have just come back from a wonderful couple of days on Sark, which enabled us to do some very early seabird monitoring.

Sue Daly and Andy Cook, who looked after us so well, took us out to some interesting burrows they found at the north end of the island, which could well host Manx Shearwaters. These burrows are only 100 metres or so from one of the two known areas where Manx Shearwaters have bred on the island.
Catherine checking burrows north Sark

North Sark

On one of the islets a Herring Gull nest had already been built, although in most areas the gulls are still just holding territroies.
Herring Gull nest

Several of the small Lesser Black-backed Gull colonies looked at least as busy as last year - which hopefully bodes well for the season ahead.

LBBGs at Banquette landing

Moie de Lache
Sark cliffs north-east
Herm and Jethou from Sark
Les Autelets - which will soon host more than 100 pairs of Common Guillemots

The one worrying note we made was how few European Shags we could see on nests. There were certainly some birds visible on their nests on the cliffs and islets, and we were always a long way away - so viewing was difficult. However...large areas of the colonies, which are occupied by shags in good years, appeared to be empty. Will the 2010 breeding season be reasonable (like 2009) or extremely poor (like 2007 and 2008)...we wait to see...?!

The Story of Great Black-backed Gull Blue 71D

Hot on the heels of the story of Lesser Black-backed Gull Green X:05, coms the sighting of Great Black-backed Gull Blue 71D at Chouet Beach, Guernsey (on 25 March 2010). This gull was ringed as a chick by Gilles Le Guillou in the port of Le Havre, Seine-Maritime, France on 25 June 2008. However...Gilles tells me that this gull had been found on the street having fallen off the roof where it was being reared. At 32 days it weighed only 700 gms (about half the average for this age). He and Christine Blaize, CHENE therefore rescued this gull. 

It has been seen in Le Havre in every month from August 2008 to December 2009 (inclusive). It was also seen in March 2010 - up to 14 March - shortly before it travelled the 200km or so west to Guernsey.

GBBG Blue 71D Chouet Beach 25 March 2010

I have just come back from two days in Sark, and will shortly write a blog entry for that trip updating on gull and other seabird news from that island.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Story of Lesser Black-backed Gull Green X:05

On 19, 24 and 26 March 2010 I saw Lesser Black-backed Gull Green X:05 at Chouet. Amazingly this gull was picked up at Malagueta Beach, Malaga, southern Spain on 09 December 2009 suffering from food poisoning. It was looked after for 16 days by local gull enthusiast Salva Garcia. He was able to ring and release this gull (Green X:05) on Christmas Eve in Malaga Port. He then saw it at the port on 04 and 05 January 2010 - with Hannu Koskinnen.

It is fabulous to see Salva's careful rehabilitation of this gull rewarded by the gull making a complete recovery enabling it to make the 1,450 km migration up to Guernsey. It is unusual for Lesser Black-backed Gulls to stop off on spring migration for several days - and so with this gull already spending a week here, it will be interesting to see if it is in fact a "Guernsey Gull"!

For Salva's intersting blog on Beached Birds in the Malaga region click here

LBBG Green X:05 when found sick at Malagueta Beach, Malaga, Spain 09/12/09 - Salva Garcia

The wonderful sight of Green X:05 at Chouet, Guernsey on 19 March 2010 - PKV

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gull Migration Continues

Amongst the 400 Lesser Black-backed Gulls at Chouet this morning were a record 30 birds from my colour ringing project - including four seen for the first time this spring. Two of these had been wintering in NW France and the other had been seen in Portugal in September.
LBBG White 6.T8 - back today from France - PKV
LBBG White 0.T6 - PKV

LBBG White 9.Z4 - PKV

LBBG White 5.Z3 - PKV

LBBG White 7S4 - PKV

LBBG White 2.U0 - PKV

Amongst the Great Black-backed Gulls seen was a new one ringed as a chick in the Chausey islands, France in July 2009 (Green E.89), and Orange GC9.T from Pitsea, Essex, England was also seen again.

GBBG Green E.89 CLB - PKV

GBBG Orange GC9.T - PKV

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bizarre Lesser Black-backed Gull movement north in spring

No sooner had I written the previous blog commenting on the strange behaviour of Lesser Black-backed Gull White 1DH (which has come south in spring to Guernsey from Gloucestershire) than John Sanders informed me of the sighting of LBBG White 3.Z5 today at Bishop's Cleeve Landfill, Cheltenham, Glocs, England.

White 3.Z5 was seen for the first time this spring here in Guernsey at Chouet Landfill Beach at around 8 am yesterday morning! It is an adult male ringed in May 2009 in our garden, and then recorded seven times over the summer around Chouet - until it was last seen on 27th August. Although this gull left Guernsey for the winter I have no reports of it until it arrived back in Guernsey for the nesting season. I have little doubt that after a brief sojurn at the landfills in Gloucs. it will return to Guernsey to nest again this year.
LBBG White 3.Z5 on Chouet landfill Beach on 22 March 2010 - PKV

LBBG White 3.Z5 on CLB - July 2009 - PKV

Another good tide at Chouet, but little migration - except surprise appearance from an "old friend"

The surprise of another very enjoyable early morning was the re-sighting of Lesser Black-backed Gull White 1DH. This adult gull was ringed at Gloucester Landfill, England in March 2004, and it has wintered ever since at the landfills of NW France (Alain Fossé). It has been seen in three separate autumns on migration in Guernsey, but never before in spring. Today's sighting was even more surprising as this gull (which again wintered in France in 2009/10) was seen back at Gloucester on 02 March 2010 (John Sanders). No doubt it will not stay long in Guernsey before returning to the South-west of England (where it no doubt breeds).
LBBG White 1DH Chouet landfill Beach 23 March 2010 - PKV

Around 400 LBBGs were on the beach and in the landfill this morning, including 15 of my cr birds (although none was a new sighting for the year - indicating that there has been little passage over the past 24 hours or so).

LBBG White 0.U3 Chouet Landfill Beach 23 March 2010 - PKV

LBBG White 3.T8 CLB - 23/03/10 - PKV

LBBG White 8.Z8 CLB 23/03/10 - PKV

GBBG Yellow 0P3 CLB - 23/03/10 - PKV

GBBG Yellow 0J0 CLB - 23/03/10 - PKV

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tide Perfect at Chouet landfill Beach

A rising tide at just the right time this morning resulted in near perfect viewing of the gulls on Chouet landfill Beach. As a result I never got into the landfill, but waited in the car at the beach for many of the gulls come to bathe and rest on the beach immediately after feeding at the landfill.

Highlights this morning included several pairs of Herring Gulls copulating, and much courtship behaviour from the Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Herring Gulls copulating on Chouet landfill Beach 22 March 2010 - PKV

LBBG White 8.Z3 and partner - Chouet landfill Beach 22 March 2010 - PKV

Gulls on Chouet Landfill Beach 22 March 2010 - PKV

LBBG White 4.Z4 CLB - 22 March 2010 - PKV

LBBG White 1.T9 CLB - 22 March 2010 - PKV

Another highlight was a British metal-ringed LBBG - London GA20677LBBG London GA20677 Chouet landfill Beach 22 March 2010 - PKV
Yellow-legged Gull - Chouet landfill Beach 22 March 2010 - PKV
Herring Gull White 7M6 - CLB 22 March 2010 - PKV
The above Herring Gull is one of the Herring Gulls ringed as chicks in Guernsey by Jamie Hooper that ventured to Portugal and Spain in its youth, but it is now back breeding in Guernsey!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

More Lesser Black-backed Gulls back from Iberia

Another enjoyable session at Chouet landfill on Saturday 20th March saw another four Guernsey cr Lesser Black-backed Gulls return home from wintering abroad. White 9.Z3 had originally been ringed as a nestling in July 1993 in one of the Sark colonies and we added the cr at its natal colony in May 2009. It was then seen in Guernsey nine times over the summer up to 23/08/09 before being seen in September/October at Quarteira, Algarve, Portugal (Michael Davis).
LBBG White 9.Z3 Chouet landfill 20 March 2010 - PKV

Also back was White 0.T0 (ringed as an adult female at Chouet landfill on 06/06/09) and then seen at Matosinhos, Portugal in September (Malcolm Millais) and then Pinto and Colmenar Viejo landfills, Madrid, Spain from 28/11/09 too 13/12/09 (Madrid Gull Team).

White 0.U3 (again ringed at Chouet landfill in June 2009) was seen at San Vicente de la Barquera Marsh, Cantabria, Spain (Javier Gil Vaquero) on 28/11/09 and then Zarautz, Gipuzkoa, Spain on 02 and 23 December 2009 (Rafael Garaita).

Finally White 7S7 (ringed in our garden as an adult male on 08 June 2008) and which had been recorded at Matosinhos, Douro Litoral, Portugal on 29/10/09 was also seen back at Chouet on Saturday.
Gulls at Chouet Beach 20 March 2010 - PKV
LBBG White 2.T9 Chouet landfill - 20 March 2010 - PKV
LBBG White 7S2 Chouet landfill 20 March 2010 - PKV

Although Chouet landfill is closed on Sundays I did see one new LBBG arrival back there on Sunday. This was White 5.T9 (ringed at Chouet Landfill as an adult female on 04/06/09) and seen at Pinto and Colmenar Viejo landfills, Madrid, Spain in December/January (Madrid Gull Team) before beign seen at Guidel Plages, Morbihan, France on 03/02/10 (Benjamin Griard).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Superb day at Chouet - with British, German and Spanish Lesser Black-backed Gulls

A change in the weather today to milder southerly winds, accompanied by mist and rain from mid-day brought a few more gulls ashore in Guernsey. Several returning Guernsey colour-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen for the first time today - including White 1.T9 - (ringed as an adult female in our garden at Ty Coed on 31/05/09) - which had been seen in Estremadura, Portugal on 17 and 19/08/09 (Roland-Jan Buijs).

Other highlights included three foreign colour ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls - Black W2XJ from Walney Island, Cumbria, England (David Sowter), Green X:05 from Malaga, Spain (Salva Garcia) and Yellow H.064 from Germany (Sonke Martens).

LBBG White 2.T1 (note tongue sticking through a hole under beak) - Chouet landfill 19 March 10 - PKV

LBBG Black W2XJ Chouet Landfill 19 March 2010 - PKV

LBBG Green X:05 Chouet Landfill Beach - 19 March 2010 - PKV

LBBG Yellow H.064 Chouet Landfill Beach 19 March 2010 - PKV

LBBG White 8.T0 Chouet Landfill 19 March 2010 - PKV

The 1st winter Glaucous Gull also gave good views again in Chouet landfill this morning.

1st winter Glaucous Gull Chouet landfill 19 March 2010

Finally I saw Lesser Black-backed Gull E 4128 - a bird I had originally ringed as a chick on one of the Sark colonies in July 1989 - so this old timer is in its 21st year!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gulls Start to get Sexy!

It is amazing what a little bit of warmth and sunshine can do. It inspired one pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls to make a half-hearted copulation attempt on Chouet landfill Beach this morning.

LBBGs getting in the mood for breeding - Chouet landfill Beach 18 March 2010 - PKV

An excellent session at the Chouet landfill this morning gave very good views of a 1st winter Glaucous Gull and a stunning adult Yellow-legged Gull.

1st W Glaucous Gull Chouet landfill 18 March 2010 - PKV

Yellow-legged Gull (adult) Chouet Landfill 18 March 2010 - PKV

Another highlight was the sighting of Lesser Black-backed Gull Orange WB4T. - a bird from Essex, England ringed by the North Thames Gull Group (Paul Roper).

LBBG Orange WB4T. Chouet landfill 18 March 2010 - PKV

Also back today were Lesser Black-backed Gulls White 7.T2 and 2.T2 - both ringed in June 2009 at Chouet Landfill. The former was seen on 17 and 18 August 2009 at  Doniños beach, Ferrol, (A Coruña), NW Spain (Paco Veiga) and the latter on 4th October 2009 at Fonte da Telha Beach, Setubal, Portugal (Rob Voesten & Stef Waasdorp).

LBBG White 2.T2 Chouet landfill Beach 18 March 2010 - PKV