Friday, 8 July 2016

Third, and final, colony of 2016

We managed to get to our third Black-headed Gull colony of the season (and third in four days!), when Kevin and I accompanied surveyors working for RSPB on a trip to their reserve in Larne Lough, Blue Circle Island a couple of weeks back.

While the surveyors got working on the primary reason for the visit, monitoring the colony of breeding terns, Kevin and I began gathering gull chicks for ringing. The use of a holding box was a great aid, as it allowed us to gather a number of birds and move off to one side of the colony to ring the young birds before releasing them back in to the colony.

Thankfully, the recent fuel spill along the coast nearby does not appear to have had an impact upon the Black-headed Gulls and even though we were quite late in the season, numbers appeared to be quite good.

As it was late June, numbers of chicks on the island had started to drop with many young birds on the wing or floating offshore. Thankfully there were still enough to keep us busy for the short time we were there. As with previous years, there were a few late pairs with chicks only a few days old.

We also had the fortune of being in a position to add several new Mediterranean Gull chicks to the Irish study. Last year we colour-ringed a single chick (see here) and this year we added another four birds.

There were at least three other chicks which had recently fledged, so Med Gulls also appear to have done well this year.    

I made a second visit last weekend, this time with Pat to help out. Even in the space of a week it was noticeably quieter on the island. Many young have fledged and the number of adults was down as birds begin to disperse from the colony. There were only a few chicks still running around on the island and a further 15 Black-headed Gull chicks were colour-ringed.

In total we colour-ringed 64 gull chicks - 60 Black-headed Gulls and four Mediterranean Gulls.

Many thanks to RSPB for granting permission to once again ring on their reserve and for the transportation!

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