Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Great Great Black-Backed Gull

The last post about colour ringed gulls on this blog was about a rare movement, a Common Gull chick seen in North West Spain. We have now had another unusual movement to Spain from one of our gull chicks. Not only was it ringed on the same day, but it has been sighted only 7 miles away from our Common Gull! This time however it is a Great Black-backed Gull.

On the 30th June 2012, after a morning’s ringing of 180 Common Gull chicks at Tillypronie, we headed to the coast, to Whinnyfold seabird colony. There we ringed 90 gull chicks on a tidal stack (above). Most of the chicks were Herring Gulls, but we also colour ringed 3 Great Black-backed Gulls (below), the first and only chicks of this species to be ringed in our project.

We heard no reports from these birds until 13th January 2013, when T:013 was sighted at Ares Beach, A Coruña, Spain, 1005 miles away from where it was born. A photograph by the observer Antonio Gutierrez is below. The bird was seen at the beach again two days later. What makes this sighting interesting is that very few British ringed Great Black-backed Gulls have been reported in Southern Europe. According to BTO online reports only 3 individuals have previously been recorded in Spain, and 1 in Portugal, although this may not take into account all colour ring sightings. The majority of birds found abroad are in Scandinavian countries.

Thank you very much to Antonio for reporting this sighting. You can see more photographs of T:013 and other colour ringed gulls in North West Spain on his blog -

We have only ringed 16 Great Black-backed Gulls so far in this project. Despite this small number we have had 3 other birds, all from the same catch, seen abroad; 1 in Germany and 2 in Denmark. Such a high return rate from so few birds really demonstrates the value of colour rings on this species.

The majority of gulls we ring in this project are Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. So far this winter we have had lots of interesting sightings from across Europe and beyond, which will be the subject of the next gull post.


1 comment:

  1. Dear Friends:
    YELLOW T:013 came back to ares beach. Today 15.10.2013 was restin on the beach.
    All the best