Dec 12, 2012

Results from the Morocco expedition

After we came home from Morocco and got used to -10 degrees and snow, the long dark evenings was used to punch the gull readings in excel. This work was more extensive than expected, which of course is most joyful. The total number of readings was about 735 of 367 different individuals. The e-mails with observations are at the moment sent to the different project managers and we are really looking forward to get the life histories and ringing informations. When this information is received and we have done some computing we will give a summary of the results as a post on this blog! The summary for the different 'countries' are as follows:

Country Observations Number ind.
Norway 231 99
The Netherlands 150 79
England 80 38
Belgium 71 37
Denmark 54 28
Spain 28 28*
Guernsey 25 10
Scotland 19 8
France 17 6
Germany 14 6
Iceland 9 4
Portugal 4 1
Sweden 1 1**
Unknown 32 22
*27 Audouin's Gulls and one Black-headed Gull
**Reading of metall ring

The species was dominated by Lesser Black-backed gull (Larus fuscus) followed by Audouin's Gull (Larus audouinii)
Species Observations Number ind.
Lesser Black-backed gull 706 338
Audouin's Gull 27 27
Mediterranean Gull 1 1
Black-headed Gull 1 1

We will end this blog with a picture of the reading that in our opinion was the best for us. This male Lesser Black-backed Gull JA8K was ringed on top of the Science building at University of Bergen. He incubated on three eggs but we do unfortunately not know who his girlfriend is. If he stick to her one more year we hopefully get more information in 2013. This picture was taken on the last observation date in Bergen 20th of August 2012.

Nov 25, 2012

Norwegian invasion in Anza

This morning we decided to start in Souss which turned out to be a waste of daylight. The best place on this site was partly made into a new road and reduced in size. We did not see any Lesser Black-backed Gull sitting, the few we saw was flying over. We quickly changed the plan and went straight to Anza. We arrived around 08:30 and before one hour had gone, over 20 different Norwegian ringed gulls had been seen. In the end of the day the number of gulls with Norwegian origin was impressive 52 different birds. This number is new high of Norwegian LBBGs recorded in Morocco in  a single day! The previous record was 48 from 27.01.2009 when two different teams were here. The total number of Norwegian ringed LBBGs on our trip is now 86. The total number of rings read today is between 150 and 160. Today the first urban gull ringed in Bergen appeared in Anza, finally! After almost 40 hours in the fish odor in Anza, J8Y0 was sitting on the beach. Another bird we appreciated was J4Z3, which we saw in one of our urban lakes in Bergen earlier this spring. This bird was ringed at Karmøy south of Bergen by Karmøy ringing group.

A local man in Anza came with these rings to us and told us he had found them on dead gulls on the beach. We will report them to the correct ringing scheme when we come home.

JR2Y is ringed as a pullus in Troms by Morten Helberg in 2012.

2.VO is ringed by Paul Veron on Guernsey

Nov 24, 2012

Yet another day in Anza

As the two previous days, we followed the same schedule and took the beach in Agadir from 07:00 to about 08:00 and the rest of the day in Anza. As you can see from the pictures below the number of gulls were fantastic. It's almost impossible to estimate numbers. The total result was a bit lower than the previous days with around 130 readings. Of these 41 had Norwegian rings which is a new high for us on this trip. This means that over 1/3 of the Lesser Black-backed Gulls with rings in Anza are ringed in Norway. On our three days in Anza we have also experienced that the time between 16:00 and dusk is the time many new gulls come to feed, especially adults. Some of the old ones have only been seen briefly during these hours. The bird on the picture above (JP2R) ruled the river with fish remains Anza. It was ringed at an island south of Mandal this year by two of the persons responsible for the domination of Norwegian rings in Anza today, Morten Helberg and Finn Jørgensen. We also had two other birds ringed on the same island on the same day, which is impressive!

Our view in Anza today, really impressive numbers of gulls

This first year LBBG 4AP5 is ringed by Paul Veron at Guernsey
J271 is ringed in a fuscus fuscus colony in Northern Norway and could possibly be and individual of this subspecies which has a western wintering site.

V.R6J is ringed in Denmark

Nov 23, 2012

Anza delivers again

Yesterday evening the plan for this day was already set. Agadir beach in the morning and the rest of the day in Anza. We followed this plan and got awarded with around 130 readings of Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus fuscus).  Some of these are the same as yesterday, but not as much as expected. The turnover of gulls in Anza is large and we think that even after 22 hours spent in Anza, tomorrow will give us new birds. We have summarized the Norwegian birds and we have got a total of 55 different LBBGs! Two of todays highlights were a leucistic Lesser Black-backed Gull and the long awaited own ringed LBBG. 10 minutes before dusk J3Y5 was sitting in the dirty water coming out of the fish factory. This bird is ringed as a pullus in 2010 in our monitoring colony at Lyngøy in Hordaland. It was also seen in Blaringhem in France by Harry Vercruijsse earlier this year.

Leucistic Lesser Black-backed Gull
905N from France

JV4C ringed as a first year bird in Kolbotnvannet, Norway

J0K6 ringed as pullus in Lindesnes, Norway has lost a foot

5.M is one of 16 different birds we have read from this project.

J3Y5 the long awaited own ringed LBBG from Lyngøy

Nov 22, 2012

Crazy day in Anza

The first day in Agadir started before dusk and ended in dawn after gull watching in 11 hours. We stared on the beach in Agadir and quickly got ten readings before people, and dogs started their morning  exercise. The next 10 hours was spent in Anza where the gulls was numerous today. In total we read around 140 different Lesser Black-backed gulls (Larus fuscus) including 39 from Norway. One of the highlights was JU04 which we also saw in Anza this spring and found in May at our local site on the island of Fedje. Today this bird was once more sitting in Anza eating the fish remains from the fish factory in Anza. Hopefully tomorrow will give us even more readings. We end this post with some pictures.

T.4 probably from The Netherlands

JH9N ringed by Morten fuscus Helberg in Mandal this summer.

V4TC ringed by Pedersen in Denmark

Some are more colour full than others like this one, E and F85

1U9:C the ringing country is unknown for us

Nov 20, 2012

Finally arrived in Anza

After 16 hours of travel from Bergen via Oslo to Marrakesh and the two hours drive over the High Atlas to Agadir we finally arrived in Anza, Agadir. Here we could enjoy thousands of gulls. We arrived 30 minutes before sunset and could see the huge swarms of gulls over the fishing port. When we arrived in Anza we estimated the number to be between 10.000 - 15.000 gulls, impressive! We put up the telescopes and it did not take long before we had the first ringed Lesser Black-backed gull (Larus fuscus). It was a white ring probably ringed in France. After it became to dark and we had to drive back to Agadir. Now we are really looking forward what tomorrow can bring.

Oct 9, 2012

Two gulls from northwestern Norway

The 26th of September (This post is published after some delay) was spent on the western islands looking for eastern rarities. The first thing we did was feeding out a bag of bread and start to scan gull feet for color rings, once a gull addict always a gull addict. It did not take long before the first Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) with a black JN was spotted. It was ringed on the island of Fedje earlier this spring, so this one was quite ordinary. The next one was much better a fact we knew right away because it was a 1 cy Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) which we have ringed only a few of this year. We suspected that this was the ringing work of Ingar Støyle Bringsvor (blog is in Norwegian). When the number was typed into the database well at home our suspicion proved to be correct. The eastern rarities was absent but this gull made our day.

JP954 was ringed in a breeding colony at Sand in Møre og Romsdal concil 176 kilometres north of where it feed well on our bread.
Well back to the urban sites we used the leftover bread to see if any new gulls had arrived. The first one to show up behaving very aggressively towards the other was a Herring Gull with a black unkown ring to us. The database was quickly accessed through the phone and indeed this was also ringed by Ingar Støyle Bringsvor!

J4743 was ringed at the island Runde which is one of Norways most famous seabird colonies. 

Wing and tail pattern for J4743

The Great Black-backed Gull is the first we have from this region but the Herring Gull is our second. Our first was the 18 year old, who this spring turned 19, and returned to Bergen 15th of July. We end this post with a picture of the 19 year old Herring Gull born in the same area as the 2012 model.

JN707 showed up in the park 15th of July and have since been seen at a regular basis.

Sep 30, 2012

Mediterranean Gull in Bergen

A really rain full weekend here in Western Norway ended with the forth ever Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus) of the county. Earlier this Sunday we was out on the urban feeding places for gulls to catch first year Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls. It ended with one of each species and we were quite pleased with that when the the conditions were taken into account. After a late afternoon reading gulls in the different urban lakes a last visit was made to the city centre park. The first thing that got our attention was a Mew Gull (Larus canus) ringed with a white ring that we saw was not ours. A picture was taken and we saw that the ring had the number EZ95 and we know that this is probably a bird ringed by Frank Majoor in The Nederlands. We have earlier had four of his Mew Gulls in Bergen and it was really nice to get a new one.

After a gull with to much contrast between scapulars, upper wing coverts and greater coverts was spotted. A first-year Mediterranean Gull. YES! We had been waiting for this species to show up in the city centre park, and there it was. A few snapshots were taken before it took to the wings a flew across the lake heading south. This is only the fourth record in Hordaland county. So far in 2012 there have been around ten different individuals in Norway as a total, but many of these have not been considered by the local rarities committees so this number is not exact yet. In Hordaland these are the previous records, notice that the two first individuals was colour ringed.
  •  22.07-06.10.1996, 1 3cy Bergen. Color-ringed (red  H135) in Szeged, Hungary. Was in 09.05.2004 seen in Nyski, Poland.
  • 21.11.1997-23.03.1998, 1 1cy/2cy wintering in Bergen, This one also color-ringed (red  H775) in Szeged, Hungary. This bird was later seen in Suffolk Great Britain, Szege Hungary,  Antwerpen Belgium, Nyski Poland.
  • 17.07-31.07 2012, 1 3cy in Norheimsund. 

Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus) in Bergen 30th of September.

Mew Gull EZ95 probably ringed by Frank Majoor in The Netherlands

Sep 25, 2012

Our Lesser black-backed gulls move southwards

Unfortunately we do not have picture of JA6V but JA5V was ringed next to it.
Yesterday (24th of September) Paul Veron reports that one of our Lesser black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) pullus was seen in Guernsey. This is our first reading for a gull in the Channel Islands and very nice that is was a LBBG pullus where the colony of birth is known. The colony where it was ringed is a semi-urban colony at Ågotnes which is a large supply base for the oil industry in the North Sea. The person responsible for the security kindly gave us access to the whole base and on 12th of July the urban ringing team in Bergen (Christian Pedersen, Vegard Finset Fjeldheim and Arild Breistøl) with help of Bent Fjeldheim from Hallingdal ringing group (blog is in Norwegian) entered the area. We ringed 18 Lesser Black-backed (one of these with metal ring only) and 34 Herring Gull pullus this day. As the other colonies we visited this summer the production of Lesser black-backed was not to good, but the Herring gull production was what we think is a normal level. Since this was our first visit to the colony we do not know the production numbers exactly so the production estimates are uncertain. We also have another reading of a LBBG from this colony but this one have so far only moved to the city center park in Bergen.

JJ1V was ringed in the semi-urban colony at Ågotnes 12th of July and seen for the first time in the city center of Bergen 5th of September. The 20th of September it was still present.

Since the Ågotnes colony is close to Bergen and reading with telescope don't seem to affect to birds much we visited the colony four times after ringing. Of the 17 LBBG pullus we ringed with colour rings 11 individuals (64 percent) has survived to fledging which is quite good. The observation in Guernsey was another confirmation of that the few LBBG pullus that fledged actually have survived.

Readings of Lesser black-backed gull pullus ringed in the colony at Ågotnes. JA6V has been seen 1309 kilometres south west in Guernsey and JJ1V in the city centre of Bergen.

A later post will summarise the colony at Fedje island which is a natural mixed colony of Herrings and LBBGs.

Sep 15, 2012

Some news and our first Gray Heron ringed

It's been a while since our last blog post, but our ringing activities are still continuing with the same strength. One of our target species this summer has been the Lesser Black-backed gull (Larus fuscus). The reason for this is mainly because of all observations outside Norway of the few LBBGs (9 adults and 13 1Y) we ringed last year. This year the numbers are much higher and so far we have ringed 79 fully grown LBBGs. The majority have been ringed in the Bergen city center, but we have also widen the horizon and ringed many breeding birds in the non-urban nesting colonies on the islands west of Bergen. In the colonies we visited the breeding success was low but we still managed to ring 59 nestlings in four different colonies. These days are exiting times, we get reports from Texel in The Netherland, France and Spain from birders who have spotted our birds.We are really looking forward to the autumn and winter months for more reports.

At the moment we try to ring as may first-year LBBGs as possible when they come to the parks to feed bread to fatten up for they journey south. The majority are quite easy to catch and we have reached 22 first-years as writing. Today we concluded that we had done a good job when almost every first-year LBBG we could find had a nice black ring around their legs. We therefore got time to ring some other species. One of the species we ringed was a first-year Gray Heron (Ardea cinerea) which was a new species for us. The story behind this bird was that it was found by the road in an island outside Bergen unable to fly and weak probably because of food shortage. It was transport to the friendly vets at Dyreklinikken Vest in Bergen who examined it and and feed it with cod. After a day and a night with care we could release it by a little lake in a park where we often see Gray Herons hunt for sticklebacks. We equipped it with a plastic ring and released it. In less then 20 minutes after release we could see it hunt for food and hopefully it will become strong enough to survive the winter.

The heron ringed with JE01 started to hunt for food shortly after release.

Large beautiful wings

Later we also ringed two first-year and one adult Coot (Fulica atra). The Coot have become a breeding  bird around Bergen in the last 20 years. This makes it extra interesting to ring this years production and the adults.

May 3, 2012

Latest activities and a Mew Gull that surprise us

There have been some time since our last post on this blog. The reason is not that we have stopped ringing gulls, rather the opposite the effort have been increased. In the one and a half month since the last post we have been focusing on ringing the Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus fuscus) breeding on the roofs in the city center of Bergen. At time of writing we have ringed 9 adults in urban Bergen and read seven of the nine adults ringed in 2011. The return rate are very impressive which inspire us to ring more. In addition to the urban ringing we started to do catching in a mixed colony of Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls in an industrial area 17 kilometers west of Bergen. So far this have resulted in 21 Herring Gulls and 5 LBGs. We have also had three very interesting readings of LBG's in this colony. One was ringed in Pitsea, England by Paul Roper's group, the second was ringed in Faro, Portugal after it was rehabilitated by the RIAS group. The third was a gull ringed as a chick 280 kilometers to the south outside Lista southwest in Norway. This bird had only been seen earlier in Algeria! We will write more about the work in this colony later.

Lesser Black-backed Gull F016 have returned to the breeding colony thanks to the RIAS rehabilitation centre in Faro, Portugal.
Today the the first 1Y Mew Gull (Larus canus) ringed in 2011 was read at River Severn, Gloucester, England. The special about this bird is that it was one of the easiest we ever have caught. We we gave out bread on a warm day in end of July 2011 this bird was almost running between our feet. We picked it easily up and put on a ring even though we expected close to zero probability that this bird would give a reading. The bird was very small and had a head and bill measurement of only 82 mm and body mass of 285 gram. When we released it it came right back to us begging for more bread. It remained in Bergen for about a week and continued to show the same unafraid behavior. This is the second of our first winter Mew Gulls to be read in Gloucester area the other is summarized here. Thanks to John Sanders for finding and reporting the this bird!

Mew Gull J9R6 was begging for more bread minutes after ringing and we are very pleased that it survived and hopefully will come back to breed on a roof in Bergen city center.

Mar 23, 2012

Welcome back...

21st of March the first Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) was back in the urban nesting colony at University of Bergen campus. Even if this individual isn't ringed, we believe this is one of the roof nesters because it rested most of the time close to one of last years nesting sites, it took bread and have remained at the site for two days now.

However, this is not the first LBBG in Bergen this year. The first was seen by Alf Tore Mjøs as early as 3rd of March when it rested briefly in the city centre lake. This is the earliest record ever in Hordaland county. The next individual showed up one week later (11th of March). Also this one just for a quick stop. At 21st of March the first two-digit numbers of LBBG seen here in Bergen was reported in the bird report system (Artsobservasjoner). The same day four was also observed in the city centre lake.

Now we are waiting for the first ringed LBBG to show up...

Mar 21, 2012

Ringing Mew Gulls pays off

During the autumn one of our goals was ringing at least hundred first winter Mew Gulls (Larus canus). We achieved this and managed to put plastic rings on 173 first winter individuals. The first reading came in Stavanger 150 kilometers south. During autumn and winter six of our birds was seen there. Of these six three have remained in Stavanger and wintered there.

The first international reading came from The Netherlands. In mid November one of our birds was observed in Groningen (read more here). Less than a week after the second was observed further south in The Netherlands in Overijssel. In January we had one in Denmark, but we could not understand why we didn't get any readings from England. Was it the mild winter that made the gulls stay on grassland and fields and therefore make them difficult to read? However, today (20th of March) we got a double reading from River Severn at Newnham near Gloucester thanks to John Sanders. One was ringed here in Bergen 26th of September and never seen here after. The other one was ringed in 16th of August and observed until 4th of September.

This map summarizes reading of the first-winter Mew Gulls ringed in Bergen during autumn 2011:

All readings of first-winter Mew Gulls ringed in Bergen during autumn 2011 (blue). The bold line from Bergen to Stavanger represent 6 individuals. The red line is reading of a breeding adult ringed in a colony north of Bergen.

J4K3 is one of the birds seen in England. Here pictured in the city centre lake in Bergen 4th of September.

In addition we have an observation of one of the breeding Mew Gulls in England. This individual is one of the first records that documents that breeding Mew Gulls in Hordaland county winter in England. This bird was ringed close to a breeding colony north of Bergen in Knarvik. The bird was seen in Rutland Water west for Leicester by Steve Lister the 28th of February 2012.

J7R3 pictured at the breeding site at Knarvik 22nd of July 2011.

Thanks to the gull readers: Alf Tore Mjøs, Henk van Huffelen, Frank Majoor, Flemming Fragtrup, John Sander and Steve Lister.

Mar 11, 2012

Ringing pintails and waiting for the Herring Gulls

After returning from Morocco in mid February the number ringed gulls is dangerously close to zero. The reason for this is partly the mild weather and a Peregrine sitting on the city hall building close to the city centre lake making the gulls nervous. The Peregrine usually hunts for pigeons, but when it hunts all the birds including the gulls fly in panic. We have only seen it taking a Mew Gull once and that was close to the place where the gulls spend the night during autumn.

In addition most Herring Gulls seem to have left Bergen. The max count of Herring Gulls in Bergen city in February was only between ten and twenty. We speculate that the reason for this movement is the Norwegian spring-spawning herring (Clupea harengus) which spawns in February-March outside the coast of Møre 200 kilometres north of Bergen. Sightings of the gulls ringed this autumn supports this. Three of these gulls have been seen in the Møre area between 13th of February to 23rd of February. These numbers are not enough to say something exactly but it's interesting. This map summarise the movement of the Herring gulls in January and February.

Movement of Herring Gulls ringed in Bergen (including one ringed some kilometres north west of Bergen in January) during the autumn (n=102). In addition to the sightings shown one was also seen in The Netherlands. All sightings are in January and February 2012.

IDLast seen in BergenDate of recovery, site
JN63207.01.1217.02.12, Sandhavn, Møre
JN64604.01.1223.02.12, Måløy
JN67307.01.1213.02.12, Sandhavn, Møre
JN70127.01.1220.02.12, Milde, Bergen
JN63506.11.1114.02.12, Karmøy
JN67217.12.1104.01.12, Kristiansand
JN62701.11.1125.12.11-12.01.2012, Noord-Holland, NL
When the Herring Gulls have left the city centre lake the Mew Gulls has taken over. In mid February over 600 individuals was counted here.

The last month our activity has manly been reading rings and ringing some ducks like these Pintails and a couple of Wigeons (Anas penelope). Only 15 Northern Pintails (Anas acuta ) have ever been ringed in Norway. It will be interesting to see if one of them can produce a recovery. There is only one recovery of a Norwegian ringed Pintail. This was also ringed in Bergen during winter and shot in Scotland three years later.

Adult male ringed 19th of February 2012First winter female ringed 8th of March 2012

The first winter female ringed 8th of March 2012.

Adult male ringed 19th of February 2012.