In November 2012, Adam McClure began a colour-ringing project looking at Black-headed Gulls here in Northern Ireland. The main objective of the project is to learn more about the species here, through determining dispersal / natal fidelity from a colony, movements of adults from breeding and wintering grounds and migration movements within Ireland and from Great Britain and continental Europe.
Over this winter, 36 Black-headed Gulls have been caught (by hand!) and fitted with orange colour-rings which are engraved with a four digit, alphanumeric code. Currently, there have been over 100 re-sightings of NI study birds and although there have been none away from wintering grounds, it’s very encouraging that people are seeing and reporting their sightings.
It is hoped that this spring, as wintering birds disperse, we will receive sightings from breeding grounds and in the summer young birds in several colonies will also be fitted with colour-rings which will provide accurate information of when and where they were born.
In an effort to raise awareness of the project and to encourage the reporting of colour-ringed birds in Northern Ireland, Adam is running a blog which the public can access to keep up to date with how the study is progressing: www.bhgullsni.blogspot.co.uk and he can be contacted at email@example.com
Adam is also keen to hear about reports of Black-headed Gulls from elsewhere, seen in Northern Ireland, which will provide more detail and allow a bigger picture to emerge of where birds are coming from to breed or winter here. During winter 2012-13, there have been colour-ringed birds from as far away as Norway, Poland and Lithuania recorded in Counties Antrim and Down, as well as birds from closer to home from Scotland, England and Co. Mayo.
Below are pics of an example of a NI BHG colour-ring (by Kevin Mawhinney), a pic of re-sighting of 2ABF (by Neville McKee) and locations of sightings.: