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, August 25, 2015

Alderney - Week 1

Now that Catherine and I have moved to the northernmost Channel Island (Alderney) I intend to post a weekly summary of activity here each Sunday. So...yes this first one is late...and it's only half a week, as we only moved up last Wednesday. However, in the first few days in our new home at the eastern end of the island, only a few kilometres from France, we saw a pod of 30+ Bottle-nosed Dolphins, and seawatching produced c 20 Balearic Shearwaters and a single Great Skua, amongst the constantly passing Northern Gannets.
On the gull front I have thoroughly enjoyed checking out the local beaches and seeing c 30 of my Lesser Black-backed Gull chicks which I ringed this summer on nearby Burhou. I've also seen c 60 of my colour ringed adults.
I've also seen a trio of foreign-ringed Gulls - a Black-headed Gull from Lower Saxony, Germany, a Great Black-backed Gull from Cornwall and a Lesser Black-backed Gull from Swindon, England.
Finally non-seabird ornithological highlights have been a Green Sandpiper, a pair of peregrines over the garden, and lots of migrant warblers on our daily walk only a few minutes from home.
All in all Alderney is showing much early promise as a truly marvellous place for birds and other wildlife.
PKV and Sophie at Les Etacs Gannetry

Les Etacs

Our back garden

Catherine's low water swimming pool

The front garden (we live in the lighthouse cottage)

Home Sweet Home! All photos (c) PKV

Friday, August 14, 2015

More Guernsey LBBGs on More Beaches in Portugal

Yesterday there were more reports of our LBBGs from Portugal. This time three birds on Matosinhos Beach (Armando Mota) and eight together on Vagueira (Pedro Moreira). Both have small traditional Xavega fisheries!

Three Guernsey-ringed LBBGs on Matosinhos Beach, Portugal (c) Armando Mota

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Xávega Update from Torreira Beach, Portugal

Dr José Tavares reported another nine Lesser Black-backed Gulls ringed in Guernsey from Torreira Beach this morning. This makes at least 14 different Guernsey birds on that one beach in the past three days! This is just one example of how important some of the beaches in Portugal are for our nesting gulls!

Guernsey-ringed LBBG's on Torreira Beach (c) Dr José Tavares

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Marvels of Xavega

Last winter I was lucky enough to see Xavega being practised on Costa da Caparica Beach in Portugal. This is a traditional Portuguese way for a fishing community to work together to catch fish...and the gulls love it too!
What I really admire about it is that the communities of people work together to catch the fish, and like almost all people who live close to nature they have little fear of the natural world and are in fact surprisingly tolerant of gulls sharing a part of the catch.
At the heart of the current media-hyped nonsense about gulls in towns and cities is a fear which is generated by people becoming more and more divorced from, and disconnected to, nature...which is nothing short of tragedy for nature and for the health and well-being of people.
Just look at these photos...the people completely ignore the mass hysteria...just a wonderful natural spectacle to enjoy!
The photos were taken today by Jose Tavares at Torreira Beach, Portugal...and he saw no fewer than eight Guernsey-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls! I just wish I'd been there to enjoy the wonderful spectacle again!


Xavega and Gulls at Torreira Beach, Portugal Today (c) José Tavares

And Another Old Gannet

At just over 25 years old Northern Gannet F13025 didn't set any longevity records for this species, but it is still a very good age for a wild bird that has such a specialist and dramatic way of life, including plunge diving for fish from up to 25 metres or so! I ringed this bird as a chick on Les Etacs, Alderney on 19 June 1990 (the year Nelson Mandela was released from prison or the Simpsons aired for the first time on US TV - just to scale it), and it was found freshly dead at Sonderborg, Denmark in July this year. One can only speculate how many tens of thousands of kilometres that remarkable bird flew in its life-time!
Northern Gannets nesting on Les Etacs, Alderney (c) PKV

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The LBBG Exodus Gets Underway!

As is typical for the time of year., it is now noticeable that the numbers of adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls in Guernsey are beginning to reduce, as the birds begin to migrate after the breeding season. The youngsters are still here, but I now have several reports of adults that are back in Portugal and even Southern Spain. For example Black 7AA6 was known to be nesting on Sark this summer, but it was seen by José Manuel Mendéz at Odiel Marshes, Cadiz, Southern Spain on 4th August.
LBBG Black 0CF4 Finistere, France yesterday (c) Solange Arzel

Friday, August 7, 2015

Super Summer Days!

Yesterday Catherine, Vic and I popped over to Jethou to dismantle the seabird camera until next season. The camera, which Catherine organised, and she and Vic trained on a Shag nest this year, proved to be one of the most exciting and interesting aspects of this year's seabird season! Let's hope for next year we can provide a live streaming camera!
Then we switched over to Herm for a quick swim on one of the finest beaches in Europe (Shell Beach), enjoying a passage party of 20+ Common Terns feeding as we swam.
This morning it was back to more mundane fare....checking Chouet and Pembroke Beaches. The highlights were another observation of the 2nd calendar year Yellow-legged Gull that we colour ringed at Chouet Landfill his May...and the first of the fledged Lesser Black-backed Gull chicks from Burhou - it's almost impossible not to get daily seabird highlights at this time of year!


Dismantling Seabird Cam on Jethou

Mauve Stinger Jelly Fish (sting only as bad as a nettle I'm told!)


Vic adding another island to his "swimming tick list!"

Antlion on Herm (thanks Jamie for id)

2nd cy Yellow-legged Gull Black 4CT7 at Chouet - all photos (c) PKV

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Gulls Gather as Breeding Season Draws to a Close.

I simply love this time of year...on one of our beaches this morning I watched a regular post breeding flock of more than 1,000 gulls...the vast majority were Herring Gulls. Within weeks some of these birds will be in western France, where they will stay until Christmas, before returning to claim their nesting territories again.
As they leave the beaches will host gulls from much further north, as they migrate from northern Europe to Iberia and North-western Africa.
Every day is new and different...and it's such a privilege just to enjoy this wonderful spectacle on this small island!

GBBG White L:CA7 ringed at Looe Island, Cornwall (c) PKV

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Young Gulls on the Beaches!

It was another superb early morning outing to the beaches at Chouet and Pembroke. Lots of colour ringed gulls, including juveniles for all three breeding species...I just really love this time of year!
LBBG B3FC1 - rather shy !

Herring Gull W3FT2


Gulls on Chouet Landfill Beach (c) PKV

Monday, August 3, 2015


It's that time of year again, and this late summer the hatching of flying ants is again very good. As a result the gulls are feasting. It's always wonderful to watch gulls feeding on ants in mid-air in large swirling cauldons. This morning the gulls were all over the Common feasting on ants. Unfortunately a main road runs adjacent to the common and many gulls were also taking dead ants from the road...with the inevitable result that there was at least one casualty. Some drivers are so oblivious or divorced from the natural world that they don't even slow down! To me it's a wonderful spectacle of our natural world...and yet some drivers don't even notice it!

Gulls eating ants on L'Ancresse Common this morning (c) PKV

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Immature Lesser Black-backed Gulls summering in Iberia

Although a minority of our Lesser Black-backed Gulls born and reared in the Bailiwick do return back north as far as their natal colonies in their first summers, the majority stay south in Iberia, where they have wintered. It is always a real pleasure for me to hear about these gulls from the growing number of local birders in Spain and Portugal who not only take the time and trouble to report the colour rings, but very often send me wonderful photos of the birds.
Manuel Petiz is one such birder who regularly sends me gull reports and photos from the beaches Portugal's west coast.
(C) Manuel Petiz
LBBG B0CS6 on Burhou July 2014 (c) PKV
0CS6 at Espinho, Portugal (c) Manuel Petiz

Bellegreve Mediterranean Gull Roost Reaches 44 birds today

Viewing conditions at Bellegreve Bay were perfect at high tide this morning, with a very calm sea and beautiful early morning light. The Mediterranean Gull roost contained at least 44 birds today - numbers appear to be slowly increasing by the day!