The Algarve, Portugal 3rd-7th December 2009

Lesser Black-backed Gulls on Vilamoura/Quarteira © PKV

   White 9.Z7 ringed Guernsey on Quarteira Beach, Portugal © PKV                Black J351 - Larus fuscus fuscus - ringed in Norway at Quarteira © PKV

Catherine and I opened 2009 with a short trip to the western Algarve, Portugal in January. On that trip we relaxed and explored a wide area of the western and central Algarve. Several times we visited Portimao Fish Port (and adjacent Ferragudo) and also Quarteira beach – where we managed to read c 50 colour rings. Incredibly – given how few gulls we had ringed in 2008 – we even managed to find one of our own Lesser Black-backed Gulls from Sark. It was no surprise then, that after the more successful gull breeding season of 2009, we were very keen to head back to the Algarve to look for more of our gulls on their wintering grounds. And so…in December we headed back for five days of gull watching and relaxing – based this time in Quarteira (central Algarve).

      Black 0.S8 ringed on Burhou, Alderney on Quarteira Beach © PKV                        Blue YH42 ringed Iceland at Portimao Fish Quay © PKV

Every morning I checked the beach and harbour at Quarteira (including the long beach to the west of Quarteira port). In addition we made three trips west to Portimao and Ferragudo, as well as one east to the fishing town of Olhao. However…we never managed to time these visits to coincide with the return of the fishing fleet and so the gull flocks there did not live up to what we had seen back in January. By contrast Quarteira was fantastic – with a good flock of several hundred Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the beach every morning. By mid-afternoon this flock had often grown to several thousand birds. The gulls were noticeably more settled too in the afternoons making ring reading easier.


                  Sunset at Vilamoura Beach © PKV                                                                Gulls over Vilamoura Beach © PKV

                  Black J1L5 ringed in Norway © PKV                                                            Green V:A9 ringed in Spain © PKV

                                        Ferragudo Beach © PKV                                                                   Red WV at Portimao Fish Port © PKV

At the end of the five days we had read a total of 185  colour rings involving 123 different birds as follows:

 Lesser Black-backed Gull                            180 reads involving  118 individuals

Yellow-legged Gull                                        two reads (two individuals)                                                        

Mediterranean Gull                                        one read

Eurasian Spoonbill                                         two reads (two individuals).


                                              White 1.T3 ringed in our garden at Ty Coed, Guernsey and seen at Quarteira, Portugal © PKV

Details on some of these birds are still awaited. However, the following indicates the countries of ringing for most of these birds:-

 Lesser Black-backed Gull

3                             Iceland                                                

15                           Norway

2                             Germany

7                              Denmark

24                            The Netherlands

16                            Belgium

7                               France

6                               Channel Islands

27                             England

9                               Wales

7                               France

1                               Spain

1                               Portugal


118                         Total


Yellow-legged Gull

1                              Spain

1                              Portugal

 Mediterranean Gull

1                              Belgium

 Eurasian Spoonbill

1                                France

1                                The Netherlands (this bird was ringed as a nestling in the summer of 2004, and has subsequently been seen several times in France, Portugal and the Netherlands. It was also seen in January 2009 at Banc d'Arguin, Mauritania).

 Of course many of these birds now have extensive life histories with sightings in a number of years at their breeding colonies and at passage/wintering sites mainly in Iberia. It is interesting to note how many of the birds are site faithful in winter too.




22 December 2009