Tuesday 1 November 2016

1000 and Counting

For a bit of fun back in January 2015 Steve Lister presented me with a UK 400 type certificate for successfully reading colour rings on 500 gulls at Shawell. He also challenged me to push on and record 1000. Well at the weekend I smashed through that target reaching 1005 by mid-afternoon on Saturday. Just like when I reached 500 it was another Herring Gull. This one had been ringed at Hornøya, Finnmark this year (full details not yet available). It had a data logger fitted to its colour-ring. 

Herring Gull (JX511) at Shawell A5 Lagoons on October 29th 2016

The 1000 gulls were 805 Lesser Black-backed, 110 Herring, 40 Black-headed, 31 Great Black-backed, 8 Caspian (2 hybrids), 3 Common, 1 Baltic (maybe 2), 1 Mediterranean and 1 Herring x Yellow-legged. The gulls came from Belgium, British Isles, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Sweden. It took five years and at least one visit per week to reach this total. In total I made 2080 separate readings during this time, so I have collected quite a bit of data on some of the gulls. At some point I must write up my findings, but for a while longer I will enjoy gathering more information. A Yellow-legged Gull with a colour-ring still alludes me at Shawell, so I must keep going.

I read the first colour-ring with Steve Lister back in January 2012. My strike rate has increased dramatically since those days helped by my Swarovski 70 x scope and the experience I now have in looking hard enough at the gulls legs.

In addition to the colour-rings I've seen three more Caspian Gulls recently. The adult below seen last Wednesday, most likely a female, was a really smart looker. Compare the flesh coloured legs to the bright pink legs of the Herring Gull to its right. Its bill was lovely and slender. Faint streaking is just visible on its lower neck. This is a feature of younger Caspian Gulls, but also shown by some adults in autumn.

Adult Caspian Gull, Shawell A5 Lagoons, October 25th 2016

A new first-winter appeared amongst the Great Black-backed Gulls that were gathered on the shore. It was camera shy and hid behind its larger cousins.

First-Winter Caspian Gull, Shawell A5 Lagoons, October 29th 2016


  1. Great work Carl keep up the data gathering mate....

  2. You don't want another certificate do you ?

  3. Too right, I haven't frozen me whats its off for nothing you know. I still have my Silver Award.