When migration is discussed in relation to Loch Leven, one usually thinks first of wildfowl. Our internationally important population of Pink-footed Geese often steal the headlines, with Whooper Swans also making plenty of noise, and a plethora of migratory duck species in abundance during the winter, including Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Coot. One may also think of the Ospreys that not so long ago were learning to fish here, and will now be settling down in their winter habitat along the coast of West Africa.
One species that may not immediately spring to mind would be the Lesser Black-backed Gulls. With a large colony breeding on St Serfs Island, we’ve been keen to take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the movements of this species, and so have begun a bird ringing programme in partnership with the Tay Ringing Group.
This year we visited the colony in June, just prior to the young gulls being able to fly. In order to limit the amount of disturbance caused to the colony, we split the effort over two days, during which time we managed to ring almost 150 birds. Mostly Lesser Black-backed Gulls, there was also a small number of Herring Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls.
For the second season, the ringers’ efforts were soon rewarded with reports of sightings. It appears that our Loch Leven gull population favours the warmer Iberian climate during the winter months, with sightings coming in from various locations in Spain and Portugal. One report has even come in from Morocco!
If you happen to be in, or visiting the Iberian peninsula at any point scanning groups of gulls and you come across any ringed individuals, then the following information taken from the Grampian Ringing Group blog will be of some use in terms of finding the right person to report to:
- For big gulls with yellow rings, with the code the letter T followed by a colon and three numbers, please report to Euan Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org
- For big gulls with yellow rings, with the code the letter T followed by a colon and two numbers, then either the letter A or C, please report to Neil Mitchell at email@example.com
- For Common Gulls (orange rings) and Black headed Gulls (yellow rings) with the code 2X followed by two letters, please report to Calum Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org