MAY 2009

I must apologise both for the late and somewhat abbreviated posting of the May 2009 Guernsey Gulls News. This results from the failure of my computer’s hard drive, and the resultant loss of 6 weeks’ gull observation data! Fortunately I still have the original records and so will update the database again as soon as time permits.

We are also now thoroughly immersed in the 2009 Seabird Breeding Season, and my non-working time is therefore largely taken up with visits to the various colonies.

Although not quite so busy for ring reads as April, may was another productive month with a total of 341 colour ring reads taken at Chouet landfill and the beaches of Guernsey’s north coast, on a total of 16 days in the month. The majority (265) were Herring Gulls, although it was especially pleasing to obtain 53 ring reads from Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 23 from Great Black-backed Gulls (mostly relating to a local bird ringed at the landfill which I see on most visits).

A new day total for ring reads (80) was set on 27th May. The main reason for this is the increasing number of Herring Gulls (and a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls) which I have been ringing in the garden at Ty Coed – thus increasing the stock of birds carrying colour rings.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Only one foreign colour ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls was observed in May. This was a bird (Yellow E 489) which had been ringed as a chick at Rotterdam, The Netherlands on 8th July 2005 by Norman van Swelm. It was seen only once at Chouet landfill Beach on 27th may.

Details were received for the French ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull seen on Chouet Beach on 29th April. Red 515N had been ringed as a nestling at Calais, France on 30/06/07, sighted at Calais-Bassin Carnot, France on 26/07/07, and at Caleta de Velez, Malaga, Spain on 28/11/07.

Details were also received for Black WD8T which had been seen at Chouet landfill on 7th April 2009. This bird had been ringed as a chick at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England on 16th July 2004. It was then sighted at Talavera de la Reina, Toledo, Spain on 5th December 2005.

In addition to these colour ringed birds, details of two of the British metal rings read (or partially read) at Chouet Landfill Beach in March 2009 were also received as follows:-

London GG 67002 ringed as a chick on the Isle of May, Fife, Scotland on 20th July 1990, and seen at Chouet on 26th March 2009; and

London FA 546—ringed as a full grown bird at a landfill near Hempsted, Gloucester, England in January 1994 and seen at Chouet on 18th March 2009.

Only one of the “regular” colour ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls from Gloucester was seen this month– Blue CHN (on 16th and 21st May). This bird had been ringed as an adult in November 2007 at Gloucester landfills, England. I have seen this bird on many occasions since its first sighting in Guernsey on 17 February. It is presumably breeding in the Channel Islands.

Finally I managed to observe one more of my returning colour ringed adults from 2008 – 7S7 – making the tally 13 birds seen in 2009 from the original 16 adults colour ringed in Guernsey in the summer of 2008.

Great Black-backed Gull

By far the most frequently seen gull was my own Yellow 0J3 – ringed in the landfill at Chouet in April 2009. It was seen either in the landfill or on the landfill beach on many of the 16 visits in the month.

The most surprising record was the re-sighting of Black JA 612 – a first summer Great Black-backed Gull, which had been ringed by Morten Helberg et al on 29th June 2008 on Bauholmen, Mandal, Vest Agder, Norway. I saw this bird at Chouet landfill on 28th November 2008, but there were then no further records until it turned up again at Chouet landfill on 27th May 2009. I do not believe this gull has wintered in Guernsey.

Less surprising, but also of considerable interest, were the sightings of four Great Black-backed Gulls with French colour rings, all of which had been seen before during the 2008/2009 winter period on Guernsey. These were Green B.09 (from Chausey Islands), Blue 74C, Blue 47D and Blue 30C – all from Le Havre, Seine-Maritime, France. Please see the March and April 2009 Gull News reports on this site for further details of these birds.

Herring Gull

Although many of Jamie Hooper’s colour ringed birds from his Guernsey project (1998-2007) were seen during May, it was very noticeable that they were far scarcer than the previous month, and many were not lingering at the landfill or on the beaches. This is almost certainly due to them being busy with nesting duties – either incubating the eggs, or standing guard over the nesting sites.

Blue BHC which had been ringed at Gloucester Landfill on 13th January 2007; with further sightings there in February and November 2007, before being seen at Chouet on 17th February, was seen again on several dates in May 2009 – indicating that this bird is from the Guernsey breeding population.

Details of the Belgian ringed Herring Gull seen at Chouet landfill Beach on 16th April 2009 were received as follows:-

Bruxelles H-117850 ringed as a nestling on 20th July 2001 at Zeebrugge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium (51 20N 03 11E) - a distance of 456 km, after 7 years, 8 months and 27 days.

A French ringed adult Herring Gull was seen on the Chouet Landfill Beach on 7th may, but I could not see the first three digits of the number and am therefore unable to trace this bird.


Colour Ringing Operations

One of the highlights of May was the success of our ringing operations in our garden at Ty Coed just inland from the northern tip of Guernsey. We have been able to catch gulls on nine days in the month – resulting in the capture and colour ringing of 238 Herring Gulls and 30 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (including a control of E 7784 originally ringed on Brecqhou, Sark by Jamie Hooper and Catherine on 10th July 1999).

This makes a very valuable contribution to my gull colour ringing studies.

The other success was a visit to one of the breeding colonies of Lesser Black-backed Gulls off Sark, where Catherine and I managed to colour ring 17 breeding adults (including one which had originally been metal ringed ( Jersey E 5622) as a chick on that colony by me in June 1993.

Since making this visit we have seen several of these adult gulls feeding at Chouet – thus confirming that these breeding Lesser Black-backed Gulls in Sark are making use of the Chouet landfill site.