Annual Report for 2009
Paul K Veron
N.B. This is a web version of the
Annual Report. It does not contain any of the appendices giving details
of all foreign movements of gulls into/out of the Channel Islands in
2009. It is hoped to add more maps to this web version over the next
month or so.
Although I began my gull colour ringing gull studies in 2008 (Lesser
Black-backed Gulls), 2009 was the first year that all three gull
species breeding in the Channel Islands were included (i.e. also Great
Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull). While 2008 had been a
disappointing year with a very poor breeding season, 2009 was much more
productive. Not only was a good sample of gull chicks colour ringed,
but it was also possible to colour ring a good number of adults in the
Work in 2009 on my gull studies fell into a number of areas as follows:-
- Colour Ringing Full Grown/Adults caught in a cannon netting
operation run with Paul Roper and members of the North Thames Gull
Group at Chouet landfill, Guernsey from 4th- 6th June;
- Colour Ringing Full Grown/Adults caught at Ty Coed, Vale Marais,
Guernsey during the period 5th April – 5th July;
- Colour Ringing Breeding Adults trapped on the nest (on Burhou,
Alderney and one of the colonies of Sark); and
- Colour Ringing Nestlings (on Burhou, Alderney and a few on the
very small colonies on Sark).
- Observations of Ringed Birds in the Bailiwick of Guernsey;
- Observations of Gulls Ringed in the Bailiwick of Guernsey beyond
the Channel Islands, including a number of short trips to France and
Portugal in search of gulls colour ringed as part of the Guernsey Gulls
Cannon Netting Session at Chouet
landfill 04 June 2009 © Vic Froome
My fascination with gulls has become so great that these studies have
effectively dominated my ornithological work, with very little other
ringing being pursued in the year apart from the usual seabird ringing
(Northern Gannets, European Shag, Great Cormorant and a few auks). When
not ringing gulls, I spent my free time in search of colour ringed
gulls – mostly at Chouet landfill and the bays on the north coast
of Guernsey, but also on a less regular basis Guernsey’s west and
east coast beaches. This has resulted in a large number of sightings of
colour ringed gulls during the course of the year.
L fuscus Black 0.H5 as a chick on
Burhou, Alderney and off NW Spain (Antonio Gutierrez)
2009 proved to be an excellent year for ringing my principal target
species. A total of 507 birds
were ringed (439 with colour
comprised 204 full
grown/adults and 303
nestlings. The colour ring
total comprised 210 full
grown/adults and 229 nestlings
(the total for
adults included some colour rings fitted to gulls which had been metal
ringed in previous years). The breakdown between the islands was as
In Guernsey the majority of the full grown/adults were caught in
a cannon netting operation at Chouet landfill in early June, while the
remainder were caught in our garden at Ty Coed, Vale Marais during the
early summer. The nestlings were all ringed on Lihou Island but all
were believed to have been predated (probably by the Snowy Owl which
had been resident on the island since the previous winter).
Some adults were trapped at their nests on Sark and Burhou, while the
majority of nestlings were ringed this year on Burhou, Alderney.
In Guernsey the very encouraging total of 599 colour ring readings was
taken on 93 different Lesser
Black-backed Gulls that had been ringed in
the Bailiwick of Guernsey. This total included 14 of the 16 adults that
had been ringed in the summer of 2008 (a survival rate of 87.5%). It
also included four birds which had been seen in Iberia over the 2008/09
autumn/winter period as follows: - Spain (three) and Portugal (one).
One metal ringed bird ringed as a chick on Sark in 1993, which had been
seen in November 2001 in the Algarve, Portugal, and a chick which had
been ringed in Sark in 2001, which had been seen in Toledo, Spain in
January 2005, were also recorded.
Most of the above records relate to colour ringed birds. However 36
metal only ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls, which had been ringed in
the Bailiwick were also observed. Their original years of ringing were
1987 (one), 1989 (three), 1990 (four), 1991 (one), 1992 (one), 1993
(four), 1994 (two), 1999 (one), 2000 (two), 2001 (five), 2002 (three),
2003 (one), 2006 (five), 2007 (one) and 2008 (two).
Perhaps the most staggering results from 2009 have been the very high
reporting rates outside the Channel Islands for Bailiwick colour-ringed
birds. This is largely due to the dedication and hard work of a small
core of gull enthusiasts in England, France, Spain and Portugal. This
includes people (like Catherine and me) who take holidays to go in
search of colour ringed gulls on their passage and wintering grounds.
Up until 31st December 2009 there had been 288 reports involving 151
individual Lesser Black-backed Gulls from my study as follows:- Spain
(137 involving 74 individual birds), Portugal (110 involving 55
individual birds), France (32 involving 16 individuals), Morocco (six
involving four individuals),
and England ( three involving two birds).
These sightings have produced much valuable data for my study, and
provide encouragement for future years.
Figure 1 – Movements of
1st year Lesser Black-backed Gulls away from the Channel Islands in 2009
Figure 2 - Movements of Adult Lesser
Black-backed Gulls away from the Channel Islands in 2009
Figure 3 Movements of all Lesser Black-backed Gulls out of the Channel
Islands to 31 December 2009
In addition 26 Lesser
Black-backed Gulls carrying foreign (i.e. not
Channel Islands) rings were seen during the year as follows:-.
|Bristol, Avon, ENGLAND
Adult L fuscus Yellow 489 (Rotterdam, Netherlands – Norman Van
Swelm) & 1st winter Larus fuscus 904N (Calais, France
–Philippe Dubois) – both at Chouet Landfill Beach 2009.
Paul Roper and his team were so successful with the cannon netting at
Chouet landfill that I rather embarrassingly ran out of my supply of
colour rings for Herring Gulls. As I had to retain at least 100 colour
rings for the 2009 nestlings, we had to release several hundred Herring
Gulls at Chouet landfill with metal rings only. This was very
frustrating, but it reflected the incredible success we enjoyed this
year. In addition several hundred full grown/adult Herring Gulls were
caught and colour ringed at Ty Coed, Vale Marais.
Breeding success for this species was moderate in 2009 so we managed to
colour ring a reasonable sample of nestlings as well. By the end of the
year we had placed metal rings on 1,040
Herring Gulls (915 full
grown/adults and 125
nestlings). We managed to colour ring 817 of
these birds (732 full
grown/adults and 85 nestlings).
The breakdown between the islands was as follows:-
A total of 3,413 read rings,
involving 659 individual
from my project were recorded in Guernsey this year. The vast majority
of these were gulls recorded at Chouet landfill, and on the beaches on
the north and north-west coasts of Guernsey.
Larus argentatus 6.AA5 (Alderney) at
Chouet Landfill and Orange JR.2T
from Essex (Paul Roper) at Chouet, Guernsey
There were 21 reports from France, involving 20 Herring Gulls
follows: - Seine-Maritime (one), Calvados (two), Manche (13 involving
12 birds), Finistere (one), Vendee (one), Loire-Atlantique (two) and
Charente-Maritime (one). There were also
four sightings (involving
three gulls) reported from England
as follows: - Gloucestershire (two
involving one bird), Dorset (one) and Greater London (one).
This data is helping to reveal dispersal and behavioural patterns in
Herring Gulls. It is also building a significant database of records
accumulated while Chouet landfill has been operating. It is hoped that
the colour ringing studies will help to track changes in the ecology of
this species once landfill of organic waste ceases in the Bailiwick
early in 2013.
In addition to the above, I have also recorded Herring Gulls from Jamie
Hooper’s colour ringing study which ran from 1998-2007
(inclusive). During the year I recorded 2,090 sightings of
Jamie’s colour rings involving 309
individual gulls. The years of
ringing for these birds was as follows:-
1998 (29), 1999 (23), 2000 (36), 2001
(29), 2002 (18), 2003 (40), 2004
(44), 2005 (59), 2006 (23) and 2007 (eight).
64 of the above gulls had
previously been reported outside the Channel
Islands as follows:-
France (41) – Pas
de Calais (one), Seine-Maritime (five),
Calvados (three), Manche (seven), Cotes d’Armor (three),
Finistere (three), Morbihan (one), Loire-Atlantique (one),
Maine-et-Loire (one), Vendee (13) and Charente-Maritime (three).
England (21) – Somerset
(one), Devon (two), Gloucestershire
(six), Bristol (one), Dorset (five), Hampshire (three), Isle of Wight
(two), and Kent (one).
Spain (two) – A Coruna
(one) and Vizcaya/Basque Country (one)
Portugal (one) – Douro
Litoral (the same bird as seen in Vizcaya,
A total of 20 colour ringed
gulls from Jersey was recorded
- Jersey (south coast cliffs) 1998 (two), 1999 (four), 2000 (two) and
2001 (seven). These gulls were ringed by the late Bob Burrows. Five
Herring Gulls ringed by Ian Buxton on Les Ecrehous Reef (off
Jersey’s east coast) were seen: these birds were ringed in 1997
(one), 2000 (two) and 2001 (two).
Finally I recorded eleven Herring
Gulls during the year which had been
ringed outside the Channel Islands as follows :-
Belgium – West
France – Seine-Maritime
(four), Cotes d’Armor (one)
England – Gloucestershire
(three), East Sussex (one) and Essex
L argentatus – 1.AA0 (Chouet),
5.FF0 (Cobo) & 5.LL8 Jethou -
A total of 79 Great
Black-backed Gulls was ringed, and of these 63 were
colour ringed. These totals comprised 16
full grown/ adults (all of
which were colour ringed) and 63
nestlings (47 colour ringed).
L marinus Yellow 0R5 (Guernsey)
and Green E.30 (Chausey Islands,
France) – Chouet
The breakdown between the islands is shown below.
These birds gave rise to 145
sightings over the year, involving 30
individuals. The majority were seen in Guernsey, but there were 19
reports from outside the Channel Islands involving eight individuals as
England – six - Cornwall (two), Devon
(one) and Dorset (three).
France – two - Manche (13 involving two
I also saw 37 Great
Black-backed Gulls which had been colour ringed
outside the Channel Islands. The majority came from projects being run
in France by Sebastien Provost
(Chausey Islands) and Gilles Le Guillou
(Seine-Maritime), with the remainder being Norwegian birds.
France – 32 Chausey Islands, Manche (14) and
Norway – five all from Vest-Agder.
In addition Blue JEU0, which
had been ringed as an adult at Vardo,
Finnmark in the north of Norway
in May 2002, and which I had seen at
Vazon Bay, Guernsey on 27 November 2008, was re-sighted back at its
breeding grounds on Hornoya, Vardo on 15 May 2009.
Several of the birds from the Chausey Islands and Seine-Maritime had
originally been recorded in Guernsey during the autumn/winter 2008. It
is fascinating to see how these gulls wander around the English Channel
coasts as they mature, visiting Guernsey periodically rather than
spending the whole of the winters here.
Three ringed Mediterranean
Gulls were recorded during the year –
two from Belgium and one from France. One of the Belgian birds (White
3E90) has been a regular visitor to Bellegreve Bay, Guernsey
past four autumns. Unusually I also saw the French colour ringed gull
back in France during one of my short visits to France in the autumn of
Larus melanocephalus 3E90 Bellegreve
Bay, Guernsey (Belgium - Guido Goris)
Although several metal-ringed Black-headed Gulls were seen during the
year, only one ring was read completely. This was on an adult bird
ringed as a chick at Opolskie, Poland
in May 2005.
Although permission to extend my gull colour ringing studies to
Black-headed Gulls was secured this year, I was not able to start this
project during the winter. It is hoped that I can get this study off
the ground in 2010.
During the year Catherine and I managed to make three trips outside the
Channel Islands where we spent some time looking for gulls from ours
(and other) colour ringing projects. Two of these trips were to the
Algarve in Portugal (January
and December), with the other to Normandy,
France in October. I also made a short trip to Brittany, France in
October with my daughter Sophie, where we found a few colour ringed
A total of 243 rings were read
abroad as follows:-
- Lesser Black-backed Gull – 159. Iceland
(five), Norway (19), Germany (seven), Denmark (seven), The Netherlands
(30), Belgium (21), France (seven), Channel Islands (seven), England
(38), Wales (16), Spain (one) and Portugal (one).
- Yellow-legged Gull – five. Spain (three) and
- Mediterranean Gull – one. Belgium
- Eurasian Spoonbill – two. The Netherlands
(one) and France (one).
- Mediterranean Gull – 61. Poland (two),
Germany (two), The Netherlands (one), Belgium (36), France (14),
Hungary (two), Czech republic (two) and Serbia (two).
- Herring Gull – eight. Norway (one), The
Netherlands (one), France (three) and Channel Islands (three).
- Great Black-backed Gull – seven. Norway
(two) and France (five)
Many of the above birds already have extensive sightings histories from
their breeding and/or passage/wintering grounds. However, the most
rewarding of the sightings related to the gulls which I had colour
ringed in the Bailiwick of Guernsey and then seen in Portugal (six
Lesser Black-backed Gulls) and France (two Herring Gulls). There is
something very special in seeing your own birds so far from home!
In conclusion it remains for me to thank everyone who has helped with
my gull projects in 2009. This includes a special “thank
you” to the Public Services Department, States Works and the
management and staff at Chouet landfill who have given me free access
to the site throughout the year, and who gave superb co-operation when
we ran the cannon netting operation at the landfill in early June. My
sincere thanks too to Paul Roper and his colleagues from the North
Thames Gull Group who came over to run the very successful cannon
netting operation at Chouet landfill.
I am also indebted to Margaret Austin for all her work in keeping the
official records as part of the Channel Islands Bird Ringing Scheme. As
anyone involved with colour ringing knows there is a tremendous amount
of administrative work required in servicing the projects. In this
regard I am also grateful to Mrs Carole Kinnersly for data input to the
largest of my gull databases. Guernsey’s Bird Recorder, Mark
Lawlor, has kindly produced the maps for this report, along with many
others for my research.
The small Guernsey Seabird Team, principally comprising Jamie Hooper,
Chris Mourant along with Catherine and me, expended considerable effort
in 2009 on the gull work. We were also helped by Afra Skene on Burhou.
Thanks to everyone for all their hard work.
The seabird research, including the gull studies, would not be possible
without the help of several expert boatmen who land on us the rocks and
islets. Richard Keen, Roland Gauvain and Andy Cook all deserve special
thanks – along with the crew of the Jethou boat.
My sincere thanks too to the owners/administrators of the islands
visited as part of this research – including the States of
Guernsey, the States of Alderney, and Dr Peter Ogden (Jethou).
I am very grateful to La Société Guernesiaise and the
Guernsey branch of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, along
with Creaseys (the local Marks & Spencer franchise) for financial
support in 2009 with the price of the colour rings and the seabird
monitoring in general. My thanks too to Risto Juvaste in
Finland, who has supplied very good colour rings and ring plates for my
Finally I am indebted to all the observers scattered along the coasts
and landfill sites of Western Europe who take the time and trouble to
faithfully record (and in many cases photograph) my colour ringed
gulls. Without their interest and hard work gull research would be very
much the poorer!
Paul K Veron
Channel Islands Bird Ringing Permit No 129
18 January 2010