Sep 28, 2011

Great Black-backed Gull and lots of Mew Gulls

On the 22nd of September we caught our first 1Y Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) in the city centre of Bergen. We had seen this individual between the Herring gulls for about a week and it was on the top of our wanted list. Finally, on this Thursday it came too close when Christian was giving bread to the Herring Gulls and it was nicely hand cached. This actually makes it the first ever hand cached Great Black-backed Gull in Bergen. We have to admit that it was rather small (body mass: 1450 g and head+bill: 132,1 mm) and probably a female, but still the first!

Wing of Great Black-backed Gull JN600.Head of Great Black-backed Gull JN600.

The next day the total number of ringed 1Y Mew Gull reached one hundred. This fulfil one of our goals for the season and we immediately set another goal of two hundred 1Y Mew's. As writing we have already reached 120 much because we now are three active gull ringers in Bergen. Vegard Finset Fjeldheim has joined the team! One trained ringer more makes it possible to more quickly ring and measure the gulls when we have a window when they are catchable.

Our effort of catching 1Y Mew Gulls have also given us another reading. As our first reading (J6R1) this new was also seen by Alf Tore Mjøs. This time in Breiavatnet (a lake in the city centre of Stavanger) 49 days after ringing and 156 kilometres south.

J3R6 moving 156 kilometres from Bergen to Stavanger

J3R6 at Breiavatnet, Stavanger. Photo: Alf Tore Mjøs

Sep 21, 2011

Ringing summary for August 2011

A bit delayed, but here are the ringing summary for August. As table shows our focus has been 1Y Mew Gulls, most of these have been caught in Byparken (the city centre of Bergen) and Tveitevannet (a lake in one of the suburbs of Bergen).

Of the 26 1Y Mew Gulls caught the 20th of August weekend 53 percent was read in either Byparken or Tveitevannet a later date. After three weeks (the 12th of September weekend) 35 percent of the birds was still present and after one month (the 17th of September weekend) only 2 percent was present. The ringed birds are leaving the area and others arrive.

Our numbers for August are as follows:
Species1YSub adultAdult
Mew Gull4142
Lesser Blacked-backed Gull100
Herring gull521
Black-headed Gull001

Sep 17, 2011

The first reading of an urban Lesser Black-backed Gull

This week we got the first reading of an urban nesting Lesser Black-backed Gull outside Norway. The male (J7Y0) which nested on top of the physics building at University of Bergen was seen in at a Landfill site in Norfolk, Great Britain 10th of September.

J7Y0 was ringed in Bergen 28th of May this year together with Morten Helberg. Morten is one of the initiators of the Norwegian colour ringing program for gulls. He is also working on a doctor's degree on the Lesser Black-backed gulls.

J7Y0 nests on top of the physics building at University of Bergen.

J7Y0 was seen in Norfolk 10th of September

Sep 14, 2011

More Lesser Black-backs...

Heavy rain all day gave us an opportunity to go for more Lesser Black-backed gulls in the city center of Bergen. When it rains few people are out feeding and the gulls get desperate for food. Christian checked the conditions in the middle of the day and could report that the Lesser Black-backed gulls was behaving like pigeons and seemed to be very easy to catch. After work we decided to catch as may as possible and we was really satisfied to get hold of five 1Y's in just one hour. These numbers brings us to a total of 9 adult, 11 1Y and 3 pullus of 'urban' Lesser Black-backed gulls.

JC0K a large Lesser Black-backed male

JC1K the second Lesser Black-backed 1Y we ringed this year. It is still present and will possibly be for a week or two.

Last year we also did September catching of 1Y Lesser Black-backed gulls together with Frode Falkenberg. Frode together with Alf Tore Mjøs is probably the two ornithologists that have done most gullwatching in Bergen and are together the sole reason for why Bergen has been called the gull capital of Norway (will come back to their discoveries in a later blogpost). Anyway, last years September catching with Frode actually started the work on urban gulls in Bergen. Much because of the unbelievable good results our six birds equipped with plastic rings produced. During the autumn and winter we had four readings in four different countries, spanning from Denmark in north to Morocco in south. A result showing the increased recovery rate the plastic rings can give.

Sep 10, 2011

The young and the old...

After returning from warm and sunny Andalucía our work continued in rainy Bergen. And what a week to be back with rain in loads every day. A quick check of the gulls in heavy rain 8th of September gave us our oldest Mew gull (Larus canus) so far.

Unfortunately we were only able to take pictures of the ring. After checking the pictures we sent the number of the ring by sms to Alf Tore Mjøs, who also is part of the urban ringing project in Norway. He quickly replied that this gull was ringed by him self (!) on 28th of October in 1992 as a 3Y+ at exactly the same location. This makes this individual at least 21 years of age. The same bird was also seen and read at Blåvands huk in Denmark 6th of February this year. The observation in Denmark makes this bird much more interesting and we will really try to catch it and put a plastic ring on it. Is it using Bergen as a stop-over site for moulting and will continue it's migration southwards?

In addition to set an age record we also had our first observation of a true urban nestling Mew Gull ringed in Bergen. J6R1 which hatched on Marineholmen (University of Bergen campus) the 8th of June this year was observed in Sandnes 170 km south of Bergen. Nice observation be we want more...

Blue line: Showing the movement of the 21 year old Mew Gull (MA27418) from Blåvandshuk 06.02.2011 to Bergen 08.09.2011. Red line: Showing the urban nestling J6R1 movement from where it hatched in Bergen to Sandnes South-Western Norway where it was observed by Alf Tore Mjøs 04.09.2011.

MA27418 our 21 year old Mew Gull in heavy rain in Bergen

J6R1 at it's hatching site at University of Bergen campus 25th of July 2011

Sep 9, 2011

Reading Lesser Black-backed Gulls in Caleta de Vélez, Andalucía

The last week of august we were on vacation in Andalucía, southern Spain! Most for vacation but also trying to find some of our own gulls in Poerto de Malaga and Caleta de Vélez! We kindly got information about the best spots by a local gull watcher, Salvador García. The first day in Poerto de Malaga we found a roof full of Yellow-legged gulls and some Lesser Black-backed Gulls, but unfortunately none with color ring. We later discovered a huge flock which mostly seemed like Lesser Black-backed Gulls, but fences made it impossible to get close to them. We even asked the Guardia Civil to get access, but with no luck. We later got information from Salvador that one of our own Lesser Black-backed Gulls (J1Y2) nesting in a gull colony in Norway was seen in this area some days earlier. So close but...

The next location at Caleta de Vélez, close to Vélez-Málaga 20 minutes drive east of Málaga, was easier accessible. As all harbours these days this one also had fences but made in a way that a telescope and camera could see through without problems. Salvador had told us that this place was best in the evening when the fishing boats arrive with the catch of the day. This turn out to be exactly what happened, around six o'clock some hundred Yellow-legged Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls followed the boats. When the gulls was finished eating they rested on roof-tops and on the ground in a closed part of the harbour. We used three evenings at this spot shown in the picture below.

We started to scan the gulls and did not use long time before the first Lesser Black-backed Gull with a plastic ring was spotted. The sight of a black plastic quickly made us think about our urban nesting ones home in Bergen, but this one started with 1 not the letter J and therefore ringed at Guernsey.

Paul Veron informed us that this adult male was ringed at Vale Marais, Guernsey 10.05.2010.

Some days later we read two other individuals ringed by Paul Veron

This adult male was ringed at Chouet Landfill, Guernsey 25.06.2011 and was seen on the island 07.08.2011

This adult female was ringed at Chouet Landfill, Guernsey 20.05.2011

We also found a gull ringed by Roland-Jan Buijs's group in the Netherlands.

Roland-Jan Buijs informed us that this adult female was ringed at Europort outside Rotterdam 19.05.2011

...and two blue plastic rings probably from Iceland



...and finally a gull from Norway. It's was not a surprise to find that it was ringed in a colony not far from Mandal as most norwegian Lesser Black-backed Gulls have got their plastic here.

This individual was ringed as pullus 12.07.2002 at Storøy south of Mandal. In May 2010 it was observed in a breeding colony at Rauna not far from Lista Bird Observatory. The last two winters it has used Puerto de Málaga as wintering site. Maybe this year too, watch out for it Salva :)

We also read some Audouin's and Yellow-legged Gulls which we will write about in a later blogpost when we have got the ringing information.