These are Black-headed Gulls. These birds breed throughout Scotland. During the winter time they forage for food in practically any greenspace in our towns and villages, often taking advantage of mans waste.
If you take a close look at this bird you can see that it’s wearing a green ring on its right leg. This bird has been purposefully trapped by ornithologists and had this ring put on. It has a unique code. This ring is easily read at close range with binoculars. The data is uploaded onto the internet and a reply comes with the birds known life history.
Kirkgate park is a great place to read bird rings. Lots of gulls loaf around feeding on invertebrates around the park. A loaf of bread certainly attracts them in. There have been a few ringed birds in the park. The bird with a green JJ12 ring was ringed in Oslo in a big park called Frognerparken just 3 days before! I’ve actually been to Frognerparken or Froger Park on a stop off in Oslo. It’s a fantastic park full of sculptors by Gustav Vigeland. I never thought at the time that there could be an ornithalogical link between there and Loch Leven.
This bird did not have the big easy to read colour ring on it. It had just a metal ring. I could easily read the country of origin but the numbers were much harder to read as they were only 1mm in height and the birds kept moving. It took nearly a whole episode of The Archers to see all five numbers. I’m still waiting to find the exact location of where the bird was marked but I do know that the bird was ringed in Latvia. I had a quick look through the records I can find no record of another bird ringed in Latvia recorded at Loch Leven.
So if you’re feeling at a loose end while listening to a Radio 4 agricultural based soap drama, you know what to do now. Go out and see if you can find out the origin of our local birds!