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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Looking like a poor season for Lesser Black-backed Gull productivity

The major disappointment of the weekend was the visit on Saturday to my second-most important colony for Lesser Black-backed Gulls. From the 150 or so pairs of gulls Catherine and I could only find six chicks to colour ring! The gulls were all on full clutches of eggs in late May, so I had hoped that we might repeat last year's success in this colony with 60+ chicks ringed. I do not know what the problem is, but I have seen a similar situation this summer in several very small LBBG colonies. I suspect that the few days of torrential rain that we had in early summer came at just the wrong time for these gulls, when the majority of chicks would have been very small. I can but hope, at this stage, that Burhou, Alderney, which is the Channel Islands' most important breeding site for Lesser Black-backed Gull (1,000+ pairs) will fare better. The birds in this colony tend to nest up to two weeks later than here in Guernsey, Herm and it might just be possible that they have been successful. It will be another couple of weeks before I visit to find out!

Very early this morning Chris Mourant, Phil Alexander and I took a very small controlled catch of 16 Herring Gulls in the garden. These birds included one of Jamie Hooper's colour ringed birds ringed as a chick at Pleinmont Cliffs in 2002.

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