After a couple of emails last night via the website Mediterranean Gull colour-ring codes I received two emails back today. The first gull we saw that was colour ringed was AAZU on green.
This bird was ringed on 18 May 2007 as an adult at the colony at Pionierinsel Lühe on the Elbe Estuary near Hamburg. By 5 September 2007 it was seen at Great Yarmouth, where it has wintered every year since. The bird appears to depart at the end of February/early March and was noted back at Pionierinsel Lühe on 15 May 2010 during a census of the Gull colony.
The colony here regularly held 140 pairs of Med Gull and around 4000 pairs of Common Gull from 2005. In May 2011 it was noted that most of the Mediterranean Gull had gone and Common Gull numbers were down. A Raccoon Dog was thought to have been a problem. The team hired a small plane to survey the East of Hamburg and found a Gull colony on a ‘green-roofed’ distribution warehouse. The team found on visiting the building 553 Common Gull nests, nine Herring Gull nests and 37 Mediterranean Gull nests with 33 colour-ringed birds (all from Pionierinsel Lühe). Also breeding were Lapwing, Oystercatcher and Little Ringed Plover. This shows the value of ‘green roofs.’
The second bird we found was another adult E254 on white. This bird was ringed as a >3CY bird at Antwerp in Belgium on 22 May 2010. It was first reported at Great Yarmouth on 24 January 2011 and was there until at least 21 February 2011. It was next reported from Oostburg, Sophiapolder, Zeeland in the Netherlands on 29 March 2011. It wasn’t seen again until it reappeared back at Great Yarmouth on 1 November 2011 where it seems to have remained.
The last colour-ringed bird was 3L64 on white. This bird was ringed as a pullus on 1 June 2005 at Haringvliet, Slijkplaat, Zuid-Holland in the Netherlands. It was first seen at Great Yarmouth on 5 November 2006 and has returned every winter since but is reported much less often than the other two. It was seen by Steve James and Emma Weaver from Leicestershire in Great Yarmouth on 14 January 2011. The only sighting away from here was on 13 May 2008 at Wieringen, Noord-Holland, NL.
The colour-ringing schemes of birds throws up some fascinating information and unlike regular eurings the colour-rings are designed to be easily read. I find trying to get photographs is the best way to be really sure and the ringers really do appreciate the photos and information. Next time your’re out keep and eye out for colour-ringed birds and either try and get a photo or read the ring. Colour-ringing schemes are very easy to find on the internet with http://www.cr-birding.org/ a good starting point. If that fails an enquiry to the BTO or BirdForum/Surfbirds Forum will often get a quick result.