In 2007 we rang many of the Black-headed Gull pulli (chicks) at Moor Green Lakes and very quickly had recoveries from Wales and France. Subsequently we heard about a very successful project which was being run by Cotswold Water Park Ringing Group who are colour ringing pulli across the Severn and Thames Basins and are already starting to build up fairly detailed life histories for a significant number of birds.
We joined their project and geared up to ring the Moor Green pulli in 2008, unfortunately the colony failed in both 2008 and 2009. A last minute reorganisation in 2009 and liaison with West Berkshire Countryside Service and Theale Area Bird Conservation Group meant we could start by ringing the chicks at Hosehill Lake LNR and in June we colour ringed 100 chicks and a further 54 chicks were ringed with just a BTO ring. The birds have white rings engraved with a 4 character code on the left leg and a metal BTO ring on the right leg.
Hosehill has turned out to be an excellent place to ring the gulls. After they have fledged many of the birds spend a lot of time loafing on the main island where they can be seen and the ring numbers easily read from the viewing screen. This means that we have proof of fledging for a very high proportion of the birds. Some birds dispersed quite quickly from Hosehill - one bird was 10 km away at Midgham within 12 days of ringing ie about 5 days of fledging, other birds have stayed locally for a couple of months and we have now had our first more distant sighting from Gloucestershire. You can see the results of this project on the new Reading and Basingstoke Ringing web site www.rbringing.co.uk - the maps will be updated regularly as we get sightings. Three different birds ringed in Cotswold water Park have been seen locally - interestingly all three were ringed on the same day in 2004!
We expect to continue ringing pulli at Moor Green and Hosehill for a number of years. Black-headed Gulls are long lived - the UK record from ringing is a bird seen nearly 28 years after it was ringed as an adult bird, so we expect to keep getting sightings for a long time! If you see any of colour ringed birds can you please report your sighting - local sightings are as useful as the more distant ones as we're trying to build up a picture of when birds leave the area and return again each year. Sightings can be reported directly on our web site or by email to me at gulls rbringing.co.uk.
Tim Ball - 7 December 2009
Reading and Basingstoke Ringing