23 May 2014

Guernsey gull-off

This week North Thames Gull Group (with a few members of West Cornwall Ringing Group) are helping out Guernsey Gulls cannon-netting birds at Chouet Landfill on Guernsey. This is the fifth year the group has visited, and now ringed and colour-ringed 6,500 gulls, including almost 2,000 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. But as it's raining this morning, we thought we'd have a 'gull-off' between the groups. So below are three recent gull stories from the groups, with a fun poll at the bottom to vote on which is best: metal-ringing, colour-ringing or data-loggers.

North Thames Gull Group - GG61151

GG61151 was a first-winter Caspian Gull ringed at Pitsea Landfill, Essex, in 2007, at a time when Caspian Gulls were still just one of the 'yellow-legged' Herring Gulls. Without a colour ring it wasn't seen again until last week when it was found breeding on a rooftop in Minsk, Belarus. This is the first metal ring recovery of a British-ringed Caspian Gull abroad and shows that metal ringing can still be of immense value.

Guernsey Gulls - White 8Z0

Lesser Black-backed Gull White 8Z0 was originally ringed as a breeding adult on Sark in May 2009. After being seen locally over the summer it was then seen at Porto de Lagos Landfill in Portugal on 13th January 2010, then 12 days later it was back on Chouet Landfill on Guernsey and 10 days later on Guidel beach in France. Four days later it was back at Chouet Landfill, seen a further 21 times until the autumn.

It was then a regular at Chouet Landfill, but also back in Portugal in January 2011 and August 2012, but made an extra-long trip to Agadir, Morocco, December 2012.

West Cornwall Ringing Group et al - GPS loggers

The last week has also seen some high-resolution data coming from four GPS data-loggers being worn by urban-nesting Herring Gulls in St Ives, Cornwall. This project is run in conjunction with Finestripe Productions and University of Amsterdam, looking at the behaviour of these birds in a typical seaside town. Tracks from these four birds are fascinating and show how birds are making 90-minute trips out to sea or across the countryside, travelling at up to 40 miles per hour.

Below are the tracks over the last few days of all four birds and then also an animation of the wanderings of one bird, even showing it appearing to follow a ploughing tractor at one point.


So now cast your vote on your favourite marking technique: the 68p metal ring, the £1.60 metal/colour ring combo, or the £900 GPS data-logger...

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