White 1.T3 at Chouet landfill, Guernsey Aug 09 © PKV                            White 1.T3 at Quarteira, Algarve, Portugal (Sept 09) © Michael Davis

After two months with very high levels of colour ring reading in Guernsey (August and September), things eased back a little in October for the following reasons:-

  1. I was out of the island for two separate weeks - firstly with Catherine exploring the coastline of Normandy, France, and then with Sophie (my daughter) similarly relaxing in Brittany, France. See the sections (to be added) for further information on the gulls seen on these trips.
  2. I managed to enter Chouet landfill only on three days and on one of these visits a couple of local "cowboys" were shooting rats and rabbits adjacent to the landfill. Not surprisingly the gulls didn't like this very much and they never settled in the landfill until it closed.
  3. While Herring Gulls remained in very good numbers, Lesser Black-backed Gulls were scarce this month with the highest numbers being a flock of 60-80 roosting along the island's west coast until mid-month (when numbers fell to c 20 birds). Great Black-backed Gulls, however, slowly increased with evidence of immigration from France and further north.
Notwithstanding this, October proved to be a "massive" month for my own colour ringing projects with a host of exciting reports from England, France, Spain and Portugal. I have been very pleasantly surprised by the high level of reporting of colour ringed gulls from my schemes.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

        Black 1.J2 Little Burhou, Alderney 10 July 09 ©PKV                                  Black 1.J2  Quarteira, Algarve, Portugal - Sept 09 ©Michael Davis
An outstanding series of sightings included more of the juvenile gulls fledged from Burhou, Alderney being seen in NW Spain, while adults were reported from a couple of landfills in northern France, and then mainly in Portugal. This included a wonderful series of observations from Matosinhos, Douro Litoral from Malcolm Millais (seven different Larus fuscus), and an incredible return of ten different LBBGs from Quarteira, Algarve from Michael Davis. Salva Garcia also found three birds in Malaga Harbour, Spain. Continuing their sterling work of the earlier autumn Antonio Gutierrez and Paco Veiga continued to report new Larus fuscus from NW Spain.

A summary of reports this month (which includes some birds from September reported this month) is as follows:-

England              1
France                5
Spain                19
Portugal            19

Total                44

I have been fascinated to see how the vast majority of adults arriving on the beaches of NW Spain appear to move on very quickly - some are now being seen in southern Portugal! However, "White 9.T9" defied this general observation by remaining at Esmelle Beach, Ferrol, A Coruna, N W Spain from at least 02 August to 16 October - although it would seem that even he has moved on now.

Again it is really interesting to see that the first juvenile Larus fuscus were arriving in NW Spain by the end of August, but new juvenile birds were continuing to arrive as late as 31 October. The autumn migration for this species does seem to be very protracted.

Only yesterday (7th November) I saw one of the juvenile gulls fledged on Burhou this summer at Chouet landfill, Guernsey. I cannot think that this bird will stay on Guernsey for the whole winter, but it will be interesting to see when it leaves and (maybe) where it goes to?

Another exciting report was of White 8.U0 - an adult ringed on the nest on Burhou, Alderney in June 2009, and seen by the Madrid Gull Team at Colmenar Viejo Landfill, Madrid, Spain on three dates from 13 September to 04 October (and then again at Pinto landfill, Madrid on 06 November).

The long series of sightings from Quarteira was particularly exciting, as Catherine and I will be heading there in early December for  five days to try to see some of our Guernsey Gulls. Michael Davis' observations must give us very real hope that we have a superb chance of doing just this. There is something very special about seeing your own gulls so far from home in the winter...and then finding them again the following summer back on their breeding grounds.

In this context I was thrilled in October to locate along Guernsey's west coast White 6S6 - one of the 16 adults I had colour ringed in the summer of 2008 - but one of only three which I had failed to relocate in Guernsey in 2009. White 6S6 had been seen on 16 November 2008 at Ria de Castellanos, Arnuero, Cantabria, Spain by Jun Ma Dominguez Robledo - so it was very special to find this gull again just before he migrates south again.

With virtually all of the local Larus fuscus gone by October it was perhaps not surprising that a couple of foreign cr gulls were seen. Finally (I had been looking all year!) I spotted a bird from Roland-Jan Buis' Dutch projects. This gull (Yellow BG) had been ringed as a chick at Moerdijk (Tetra Pak) breeding colony in June 2007. I saw it a Vazon Bay, Guernsey on 06/10/09. The other cr LBBG was a juvenile Blue VA6Y (a Danish bird - details awaited) - seen at Chouet landfill on 24/10/09..

                                                     White 3.U5  and White 5.T5 Quarteira, Algarve, Portugal  - September 2009 © Michael Davis

 A wonderful series of photos all © Antonio Gutierrez - Black 0.H5 (ringed as a chick on Burhou, Alderney on 10 July 2009) and then seen at Pantin, A Coruna, Spain on 15 October 2009, and then on a pelagic trip six miles north of Carino harbour, A Coruna, Spain.

Herring Gull

                                                              Grey G+M  and White A6HM at Chouet landfill 07 October 2009 © PKV

Although Herring Gull numbers remained high at Chouet landfill it was noticeable that many birds dispersed quickly after feeding. The exceptions were on days with high tide in the mornings. Gulls will then loaf in the landfill - which makes ring reading much easier! As well as a good number of sightings of birds from Jamie Hooper's project (1998-2007) and my own (2009 onwards), I also saw Herring Gulls from two other projects (both on 07 October at Chouet Landfill).

Grey (G+M) had been ringed as a chick in Gloucester in June 2009 by peter Rock. While White A6HM had also been ringed as  a chick, but by Richard Thompson at the Sussex RSPCA rescue centre - which looks after injured gulls and unfledged chicks brought in by members of the public. Over the past 12 years Richard and his team have helped more than 3,000 gulls!  White A6HM was released on 27 July at Pett Level, East Sussex, ENGLAND.

Many (perhaps most) local birders regard Guernsey's Herring Gulls as being strictly sedentary, but the colour ringing programmes are proving otherwise. Although complex the dispersal and migratory patterns of our local Herring Gulls are now beginning to emerge. Reports are coming in of adults ringed in the summer of 2009, which have now dispersed to the nearby French coasts of Manche, Calvados, Cotes d'Armour and Finistere, with some travelling as far south as Vendee, Loire-Atlantique and Charente-Maritime. A few have also gone north and been seen in the landfill sites in Gloucester, ENGLAND.

I was particularly thrilled to discover two of our gulls when Catherine and I went to Normandy this month. White 4.XX5 and White 2.ZZ2 were seen at Le Petit Hameau, nr Ravenoville and Gatteville Lighthouse, Manche respectively. Incredibly the latter bird was seen a few hours before we saw it by local gull spotter Laurent Legrand!

White 1.XX7 (Ty Coed, Guernsey in May 2009) - London Oct 09 © Johnny Allan      White 3.VV6 (Chouet landfill June 09) - Finistere, France © F Seite

Great Black-backed Gull

                                Yellow 0P2 - Lihou June 09 © PKV                                              Green E.34 Vazon Bay, Guernsey 09 October 09 ©PKV

There were three records of GBBGs ringed as chicks in the summer of 2009 moving out of the islands as follows:-

Yellow 0S5 (ringed on Burhou, Alderney on 09/07/09) was seen at Slapton Ley, Devon, ENGLAND by Brenda Child on 09/10/09;

Yellow 0K9 (ringed on Crevichon, Jethou on 09/06/09) was seen on the Hayle Estuary, Cornwall, ENGLAND on 19/10/09 by Phil Rutter; and

Yellow 0P2 (ringed on Lissroy, Lihou, Guernsey on 24/06/09) was seen at Portland Bill, Dorset, ENGLAND on 21/10/09 by Nick Hull.

In addition I recorded six French-ringed birds in the Channel Islands (four of which were new sightings).

Green E.34 and Green E.38, ringed as chicks on the Chausey islands, Manche, FRANCE by Seb Provost were seen together at Vazon Bay, Guernsey on 09/10/09.

Green E.75 - also ringed as a chick on Chausey by Seb, was seen by Tim Earl and me on Platte Saline Bay, Alderney on 02/10/09.

Blue 36B had been ringed as a chick in June 2005 at Le Havre, Seine-Maritime, FRANCE by Gilles Le Guillou. I had seen this bird before in Guernsey several times between 18/09/08 and 22/01/09. It was then seen back at Le Havre on 03/07/09 and 07/08/09, before being sighted again on Vazon Beach, Guernsey on 07/10/09.

Blue 73D (also a chick from Gilles project at Le Havre) was seen at Ouistreham, Calvados, France on 02/09/09, before being seen in in Guernsey at Chouet landfill Beach on 22/09/09. It was then back on Pembroke Beach and Chouet landfill on 24/10/09.

Black 61E ringed at Le Havre, Seine-Maritime, FRANCE by Gilles was seen on 17/10/09 at Vazon bay.

                  Black 61E Vazon bay, Guernsey 17/10/09   ©PKV                                   Blue 77C Lion-sur-Mer, Calvados, France 10/10/09 ©PKV

One further movement involving a Larus marinus which had been seen in Guernsey was the thrilling sighting of Blue 77C on the beach at Lion-sur-Mer, Calvados, FRANCE on 10 October 2009 by Catherine and me (along with Eric Robbe). I had seen this bird seven times in Guernsey over the winter of 2008/2009 from 04/09/08 to 26/02/09. I then saw it again on 15/08/09 at Chouet landfill.

Mediterranean Gull

Although it was hard to even find a Mediterranean Gull on Guernsey in October I was very excited to see Green 671 on the beach at Siouville, Manche, FRANCE on 13 October - because I had first seen this very gull on Pembroke Beach, GUERNSEY on 29/09/09!

Black-headed Gull

Details of the Polish ringed bird seen at the Mare de Carteret Castel, Guernsey on 05/09/09 were received as follows:

Gdansk FN 63015 ringed as a chick on 26/05/09 at Januszkowice, Zdzieszowice, Opolskie, POLAND by J Siekiera - a distance of 1,481 km and elapsed time between ringing and sighting 1563 days.

Shocking photo of Black-headed Gull Gdansk FN 63015! © C Veron                                             Chouet landfill October 2009  © PKV

Sincere thanks again to all those gull enthusiasts who have made October such a valuable month for my gull studies with their sightings of Guernsey Gulls!

A very brief account of the two French trips made in October 2009 will be added when I get a  chance (Click on Link below)

French Trips - Normandy and Brittany October 2009

Paul K Veron

08 November 2009