Sunday, 4 November 2012

A Very Uncommon Gull

The biggest Common Gull colonies in the UK are in North East Scotland, and this summer we started colour ringing the species for the first time, mostly at a large inland colony at Tillypronie (below). So far we've had 5 local sightings along the coast this autumn, giving us an interesting, albeit predictable look at chick dispersal.

However, we've also had an extremely surprising sighting we definitely didn't see coming. A chick (2XKN) ringed at Tillypronie on 30th June was seen 983 miles away on 1st November, at Santa Cruz, La Coruña, Spain! A photo of the bird by Antonio Lopez Porto is below, complete with a Mediterranean Gull for proof of its location!

What makes this sighting so unusual is that it is the first Common Gull ringed in Scotland to ever be recorded in Spain, and only the second for the UK. The first record was from a chick ringed in 1957 in Kerry, Ireland, which was shot in Spain a few months later, amazingly only 7 miles away from where our bird was sighted! 

UK ringed Common Gulls recorded in other southern European countries are very rare, with only 1 recovery in Portugal, and 1 in Italy.

Hopefully continued colour ringing and sightings will help us discover more about the movements of Scottish Common Gulls. All our birds have orange rings with 2X followed by two letters. Please send any sightings to


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