Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Northern Ireland Mediterranean Gull Survey

I've admitted before that I am fond of Mediterranean Gulls (see here) and I'm delighted that, in partnership with Birdwatch Ireland, we're hoping to organise a co-ordinated count of Mediterranean Gulls at evening roosts across Ireland, including here in Northern Ireland.

Breeding plumage Med Gull at Glynn

While numbers of Mediterranean Gulls roosting at some sites around Dublin now regularly exceeding 100 individuals, it is unlikely that any roosts in Northern Ireland have more than a handful of birds. 

It will be very interesting, however, to see if we can get an accurate count of just how many Med Gulls there are in Northern Ireland this summer.

Date: Monday 27 July
Start: 20:00
Finish: Dusk (22:00)
Sunset: 21:34
High tide at Belfast: 20:47 (3.0m)

C-ringed Med Gull in flight
Photo by Cameron Moore

The following information should be recorded:

  • Number of birds present
  • Age of birds present (adult / 2nd-summer / 1st-summer / juvenile)
  • Presence and details of any colour-ringed birds
  • Latest time (closest to dusk) when birds were recorded
  • Direction of travel by birds flying to/from the survey site
  • Behaviour (e.g. roosting / feeding)

The last three pieces of information (especially latest time recorded) will be useful in ascertaining whether there is any movement between sites, overlap in counts, etc.

1st-winter Med Gull at Portrush, September 2014
Photo by Ronald Surgenor

While there is potential for Mediterranean Gulls to turn up anywhere, we are hoping to get all the main coastal roost sites covered as a priority. 

PLEASE NOTE - this list is not exhaustive, there are many, many other sites which could be covered and you are encouraged to head out and cover your local site - I will cover the small roost at Whitehead, Co. Antrim, for example.

The main sites are:

Co. Down:

  • Carlingford Lough
  • Dundrum Inner Bay
  • Ardglass Harbour
  • Kinnego Bay, Belfast Lough
  • Belfast Harbour Reserve

Co. Antrim:

  • Whitehouse Lagoon
  • Glynn, Larne Lough
  • East Strand, Portrush

Co. Londonderry

  • Bann Estuary
  • Myroe Levels
  • Lough Foyle

If you are interested in taking part, please let Niall Keogh at Birdwatch Ireland know which site you hope to cover by emailing

Winter plumage Med Gull with Black-headed Gulls

More information can be found at:

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