Last update: 5th December 2011


Peter Rock Urban Gulls – will money and politics lead to more guesswork?

The large gulls have been breeding on rooftops in UK since before the Second World War, but numbers of pairs really started increasing dramatically only in the last 30 years. As colonies grew, the problems associated with urban gulls (and, of course, the complaints) increased in direct proportion and the pest control industry perceived a highly lucrative opportunity… Starting with plastic Eagle Owls, we have seen a succession of weird and wonderful pieces of equipment “designed” to deter gulls. Oddly, each new idea appears to be more expensive than the last… By now, it is certain that £millions have been spent.
The complaints to local authorities started as a trickle, but have grown into a flood. Local politicians have demanded solutions and some have even tried to “solve” the problems themselves… The more sensible among them have lobbied MP’s to air the issue in Westminster with a call for research. Government’s response has, so far, been tepid, but with the fillip that research is being considered.
Whilst we know a great deal about the species involved, just about all of this information has been derived from studies at rural colonies and the reality is that it has little bearing on what happens in town. What is abundantly clear is that we know precious little about urban gulls and without precise knowledge about them, the guesswork that has characterised all attempts to find a solution to date will continue. And, needless to say, £millions more will be spent…
(added: 5th December 2011)

Viola Ross-Smith Gull migration: calibrating colour ringing data with GPS

In 2010 and 2011, state of the art solar-powered GPS tags were fitted to Lesser Black-backed Gulls breeding at Orford Ness, Suffolk, UK. These tags give high resolution spatial and temporal information on gulls’ movements, flight altitude and acceleration. Data about these gulls’ migrations are now being gathered and compared to that from an extensive and on-going colour ringing project, which has been running since the mid-1990s. Results from tagging show gulls’ wintering activities in unprecedented detail, and demonstrate substantial variability in individual’s migratory strategies. These will be discussed with respect to the information gained from colour ringing, and the synergies between the two techniques considered.
(added: 5th December 2011)

Chris Gibbins Is it possible to identify heinei Common Gulls in the field?

Current literature on heinei paints a picture of a bird that is more or less impossible to identify in the field. Ringing recoveries show that this taxon occurs in Britain and western Europe during the winter months, but the lack of robust identification criteria hinder assessment of its true status here. This paper is based on observations of Common Gulls in NE Scotland and Romania. It suggests tentative criteria that can be used to separate nominate canus from heinei in the field, with a focus on adult and second winter birds.

Risto Juvaste Sexing of gull chicks by measurements

During since 1993 I have taken over 50 000 measures from the chicks of over 5000 LBBGs and 3000 HGs while ringing them by read rings. I have taken measures from wing, leg, and head and bill in order to specify sex and verify species. Hundreds of these birds have been read and sexed later on field by behavior and 125 birds were sexed by DNA. With this data I made by SAS Distribution analysis formulas for sex and species. Most of large gull chicks can be sexed and species verified by some basic easy measures even in the age of first weeks.

Risto Juvaste Exciting (but yet secret) results from 127 GPS-transmitter LBBG-migration project

In the big LBBG navigation project of Max Planck Institute of Radofzell 2009 organized by Prof. Dr. Martin Wikelski 127 GPS solar satellite transmitters were installed in Southern Finland and in White Sea (Russia). Most of the birds were manipulated by magnetic and smelling senses and translocated about 1000 km. Beside the manipulated birds also the control birds produced interesting data about the migration and seasonal movements of LBBGs

Paul Roper North Thames Gull Group

My talk will be about the work of the NTGG in the Thames Estuary. With new European regulations on waste, landfill sites in the UK are set to close over the next ten years. This may have an impact on a number of issues such as wintering areas, over winter survival, conflict with humans, displacement of large percentages of the European population of a range of gull species. We are seeking to understand what populations of each species are using these landfill sites and what might happen to them when the landfill sites close. We see our work at the moment as “banking data” for the future to see what the impact is in various areas. I will explore a number of questions and propose some theories of what might happen and how this can be managed in the future for conservation of gulls and to minimize any conflict with humans.

Paul Veron Guernsey Gulls – An outline of the research projects being run on the three Larid species breeding in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, English Channel

Large gulls in the Bailiwick of Guernsey in the Channel Islands appear to have done very well in recent decades…partly due to the presence of an organic landfill site on Guernsey. However, with organic landfill ceasing in Guernsey shortly it is expected that there will be a significant impact not only on the islands’ gull populations, but also their feeding and breeding ecology, as well as their dispersal and migration strategies. This is the primary stimulus for an extensive colour ringing study which began with Lesser Black-backed Gulls in 2008, and which was widened to include Herring and Great Black-backed gulls the following year. Paul’s presentation will give the background to this study, describe the methods that are being pursued, explain how far the research has developed in the first few years and give some early indications of the preliminary results which are being  obtained.”

Zsolt Karcza Gull colour ringing in Hungary 1994-2011
& Peter Szinai

There are 5 gull colour ringing projects running in Hungary presently: Mediterranean Gull (since 1994) Black-headed Gull (1998) Caspian Gull (2007) Yellow-legged Gull (2009) and Common Gull (2011). The following summaries were made on all colour ringing and observation data we have received until 11.11.2011.
Mediterranean Gull: 4014 individuals (3821 chicks) have been ringed in Hungary since 1994, and 2933 individuals were marked with coded red colour rings too. All birds were ringed during the breeding season as chicks or breeding adult birds. 1336 individuals of them have been observed in 26 countries so far. The number of all observations is 14363 (from 1 to 153 cases per bird). The most Mediterranean Gulls ringed in Hungary have been observed in France (769 ind.), in Italy (390 ind.) and in Spain (268 ind.). The most distant observations were in Morocco (4 ind.), Portugal (49 ind.) and Ireland (8 ind.). The sight records were mainly outside of the breeding period on the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coasts. Also there were several observations and recoveries (116 ind.) during the breeding seasons from farther breeding colonies, mainly from Belgium, France and Poland.
Black-headed Gull: 12045 individuals (9367 chicks) have been ringed in Hungary since 1998, and 2864 individuals were marked with coded red colour rings too. 1344 individuals of all colour ringed birds were chicks. The full-grown birds were caught in the breeding season (278 ind. in the colonies or rubbish damps near colonies) or outside of the breeding season (mainly in rubbish dumps and at the Danube river in Budapest). 537 colour ringed birds which were ringed during the breeding seasons have been observed so far (1159 observations: from 1 to 18 cases per bird). The most foreign observations were made in the wintering area in Italy and SE Spain. The colour ringed individuals which have been ringed in winter in Hungary were observed in Germany, Switzerland, France, Poland, Lithuania and Italy and the neighbouring countries.
Caspian Gull: 94 individuals (82 chicks) have been ringed in Hungary since 2007, and 86 individuals were marked with coded blue colour rings too. 4 of them have been observed abroad so far. All 4 birds were ringed as chicks and observed in their first or second year. One of them was observed in The Czech Republic and Germany, the others were observed in Germany and Poland.
Yellow-legged Gull: 32 full-grown individuals have been ringed in Hungary since 2009, and 31 birds were marked with coded blue ring too. Two of them have been observed outside of the Carpathian Basin, in Italy.
Common Gull: This project was started this autumn.

Nick Rossiter Yellow-legged Gull: Differences between Atlantic and Mediterranean populations

The area where the Atlantic and Mediterranean meet gives an intersection of the two forms of Yellow-legged Gull. Studying the gulls here is valuable for giving an insight into the differences with respect to appearance, vocalisation, habits, habitats and breeding cycles. The results are presented from an extended visit to Andalusia, Spain, in February-March 2011. A combination of these results with those from earlier studies in the Canaries, Madeira, Morocco, Portugal, other parts of Spain and France, suggests that the Atlantic forms have distinctive characteristics, which may complicate gull identification outside their home ranges.


Mars Muusse ID of second calendar year Larus heuglini

Larus heuglini is an annual summer visitor in Finland and maybe further west as well. But how do we identify it from the numerous and highly variable intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull breeding in Scandinavia.


Morten Helberg Were do Norwegian gulls migrate? Results from read ringing data from southern Norway 1995-present

The Norwegian Color ringing of gulls started in 1995, and up to 2011 over 34 000 gulls and skuas are ringed with a color ring with inscription that start with the index letter J. This have generated over 76 000 ring reads of over 14 000 individuals. In 2009 collaboration with Danish ringers were initiated, and over 1800 GBBGs are also ringed in Danish colonies with J rings. All these birds can be reported through the web page, were fully updated life histories can be viewed immediately after data is reported.
In Norway more than 72% of the birds are ringed in the southernmost county Vest-Agder, and for all areas 85% are ringed as pulli.
Even though the Norwegian gull ringing are mostly motivated to monitore gulls survival and dispersal “locally”, a huge and important part of this material exist because of skilled observers outside Norway. We are of course very grateful for every read we receive. It is of course challenging to present all this material in a short talk, but we hope to give you all a broad overview, and hopefully shed some light over the current knowledge for the Norwegian Gulls.

Jelena Kralj Movements of eastern Adriatic Yellow-legged Gulls – 12 years of colour-ringing

Between 1999 and 2011 almost 13,000 Yellow-legged Gulls have been colour-ringed with about 4,500 ring-readings obtained. Analyses of colony- and age-specific seasonal dispersal showed clear preference in direction of their movements. The significant difference in the heading of birds from different colonies was found.


Vladimir Savić Influenza viruses in gulls

Influenza A viruses have been isolated from various domestic and wild birds and some mammals including humans. Waterfowls and gulls are the only natural host perpetuating the genetic pool of all influenza A viruses. These viruses are in evolutionary stasis in their natural hosts causing no symptoms or disease. Influenza A viruses under certain circumstances accidentally infect aberrant hosts like other wild birds, poultry, swine or water mammals causing a disease that can vary from mild to fatal depending on the host, virus type and extent of its adaptation to the aberrant host.

There are 16 haemagglutinin (H) subtypes of influenza A viruses and at least ten subtypes have been isolated from gulls. Of these, H13 and H16 subtypes seem to be exclusively gull-associated and have been suggested to represent a unique gene pool that differs from that of waterfowl. Recently H13 has been detected in a lesser snow goose (Chen caerulescens), indicating that sharing of habitat might be important for virus transmission within and between bird species. Finally, the epidemiology of influenza A infections in most gull species is still only partially known and this calls for further research on influenza viruses in gulls.


Cyril Mahaim Saunders’s Gull and Relict Gull, two specialized and threatened species

These two species share in common much more specialized breeding and feeding habits than most of the larinae.. Observations in the field of these specialized behaviors will be presented. The vulnerability that this specialization causes, as well as reasons to hope for a better future will be described. The particular morphology of the Saunders’s Gull will be illustrated, together with some ID tips on both species.


Workshop in read and colour ringing
This is a hands-on workshop on read and colour ringing (of gulls). Participants are asked to bring and show their good and bad examples of rings, methods and tools. Every subsubjects will be shortly introduced. Participants are asked to suggest their interests beforehand.
Preliminary sub-subjects:
1.) Materials of rings: PVC (Darvic), PMMA (acryl), ABS, CA, PS and their producers and trade names like Sureplast, Gravoply and Rowmark. Cons and pros. Which one we should use?
2.) Designs of rings: Once rolled with overlap or without, double rolled (spiral rings). Possible/usable colours and fonts. Position and size of code. Thickness of engraving. Filling of the engraving. Height and diameters of rings.
3.) Coding: Suffiency and reuse of codes. Group and country codes. Check coding and extra marks (dots, lines etc).
4.) Rolling of rings: Tools, methods.
5.) Ringing and reading: How to put rings. Use of hot water. Which glue?
6.) Producers and prices: Europe, overseas. Delivery
7.) Other: Hands-on, discussion.
8.) How to manage ringing/read data. Database, Access or Excel.. ? Good and bad examples. (added: 5th December 2011)