Monday, 8 June 2015

Breeding Gulls in Leicester

Back in July 2013, Dave Gray checked out a site in Leicester where he thought gulls might be breeding and he saw several un-fledged juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull on the roof of a large warehouse. This was the first record of this species breeding in Leicestershire.

However, no further studies have been carried out at the site due to the difficulties of viewing and the tight security.

I decided to visit the site about two week ago and I found a large mixed breeding colony of gulls. I was able to get views of at least three pairs of Lesser Black-backed Gulls that were incubating eggs and I also saw three pairs of Herring Gulls with a total of eight chicks between them. There will be many more breeding pairs, as I estimate there is a minimum of 200 gulls present although some are immature.

A Breeding Pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus fuscus graellsi) in Leicester

This is the first confirmed breeding record for Herring Gulls in Leicestershire and the record of the breeding Lesser Black-backed Gulls supports Dave's sighting in July 2013.  

I have managed to get a view of the roof in two places, but much of it is still hidden from me. What makes this site so attractive to gulls is that there is a re-cycling plant over the road, which offers a plentiful supply of food. At the time of writing I have not got permission from either of the companies whose properties the gulls are using, but I am working on it. 

Can You Spot the Herring Gull Chicks?

So far I have managed to photograph two colour-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Both were ringed in Gloucestershire. The first one D+M was ringed as a chick in a roof top colony in Gloucestershire during July 2010. D+M has been seen at both Cotesbach and Albion landfill sites in Leicestershire by both Steve Lister and myself.

Lesser Black-backed Gull, D+M, Leicester

The second colour-ringed gull JND was ringed in its second-calender year at Gloucester landfill site during May 2010. Again this one has been recorded at both Cotesbach and Albion landfill sites. It has also been recorded wintering in Spain during 2011 and 2012.

Lesser Black-backed Gull, JND, Leicester

Unfortunately the building is set to be demolished soon, so it will be a case of having to search for a new breeding area.

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