Wednesday 23 April 2014

Gull Colour-ringing Update

I recently read the colour-ring on my 300th gull at Shawell. A first-summer Common Gull was the prize winner. This was a good record because the codes on the smaller gulls are really difficult to read due to the distance involved. Common Gull (J4ET) was ringed near Bergen, Norway during September 2013.

Map Showing the Locations Where the Colour-ringed Gulls Seen at Shawell Have Been Recorded

Someone suggested to me that colour-ring reading is like train spotting. Well I disagree, first of all you don't need such good eye-sight to see a train and they work to time tables. I have learnt a great deal about the journeys that gulls make especially Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Although we already knew that the intermedius sub-species of LBB Gull visits Britain, it's great to actual find one hatched at the very top of Norway and know that because of the colour-ring. Many Lesser Black-backed Gulls pass through Shawell on the way down to Iberia and across to Africa. Others spend their winter around the landfill sites of England, but one thing we have learnt is that they are almost constantly on the move.

Over the last winter period there were fewer Lesser Black-backed Gulls using the site and this is reflected in the species totals for colour ringed birds. It seems strange that fewer LBB Gulls were present, as it was quite a mild winter compared to the previous one. The most dominant species was the Herring Gull. LBB Gulls still accounted for the most colour-rings, but Herring and Greater Black-backed Gulls increased their percentage of the total per 100.

Total of rings read per species for the last 100 rings read by myself:

56 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
27 Herring Gulls
15 Great Black-backed Gulls
1 Black-headed Gull
1 Common Gull

Highlights included a Herring Gull ringed in Finland and quite a few gulls ringed near the very top of Norway. The colour-ringed Yellow-legged and Caspian Gull still eluded me, but I did get one bird considered to be a Caspian Gull by the ringers, but I think it might be a hybrid personally.

LBB Gull T:C
Here's to the next 100.

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