News

TRIP - Pitsea - 02/04/2016: We don't normally go in April but with quite a lot of cancelled sessions and some interest in going one last time a small team assembled to see what was around. No gulls on the tip when we arrived and started to set but as lorries came in birds started to feed. We soon had a dust cart and shortly birds came onto the waste. As I was nervous about loosing birds or them going off the feed I took a fairly quick catch. This turned out to be very useful around 100 birds. We took the decision to take lots of biometrics and all Black-headed Gulls had wing and head a bill measurements taken which was great practice for people. We had set again and as we had finished the last few Black-heads as it was getting warm I asked Dave to get the compactor driver to give us another roll over. Birds came quickly back on the feed and I noticed that there were a good number of Lesser's in the catching area so I decided to take a catch as quickly as I could. This was a good decision and another 19 Lesser's were soon being extracted. All of these had biometrics taken and all birds except a few Herrings from the first catch were colour ringed. A great finish to the season and a really pleasing day with a good small team. Fantastic work once again by the tip staff and a great setting location went towards a successful day.02-Apr-2016


TRIP - Pitsea - 12/03/2016: I may need to check the records but I think today might be a record with a final total of 858 birds caught. With large numbers of Black-heads on the move two large catches gave an excellent day total. A few issues with Foxes to start with gave us a bit of a headache then Dave took a superb catch. Once extracted and part way through the processing Alan gave us another roll and birds were soon down. With a large team I elected to take a second catch and again just as big. Totals given below. Excellent work by all the team to process a large number of birds.12-Mar-2016


TRIP - Pitsea - 27/02/2016: After a dreadful run of weather and not being able to get out since 23 Jan a large team assembled on the tip. Not many birds to start with and not much feeding but an early set saw us ready. Around 9:15 am a dust cart came in and was dropped in front of the net. Birds started to feed as soon as the compactor flattened the waste and we soon had a large number of birds in the catching area. I realised that there were a good number of Lesser BB's in the area so I took the opportunity at the first small window to take the catch. It turned out to be very worthwhile with 299 birds including 21 new Lesser BB's and 130 of Herring and Black-headed and a couple of GBB's. A few retraps and two controls one Dutch and one Belgium. A few of the team did quite a bit of ring reading and there will be a good number of sightings also going onto the database. A great day and excellent support from the tip staff as always.27-Feb-2016


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Aims

The aim of The North Thames Gull Group is to study the gulls making use of the landfill tips on the Essex coast of the Thames estuary, east of London.

We do this by catching the birds feeding on the waste using a cannon net, a technique requiring a special licence. The first step is setting the net.

Once captured, the birds are extracted from the net before being marked with individually numbered metal leg rings.

Whilst ringing the birds, we take measurements and study plumage characteristics. A sample are given orange colour rings which can be read with a telescope without the bird being recaptured.

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Acknowledgements

The group operates with the excellent support and cooperation of Veolia Environmental Services which operates the domestic landfill sites and Pitsea and Rainham.

We are grateful to the Banbury Ornithological Society, the Essex Birdwatching Society and GlaxoSmithKline for providing funding for the colour ringing programme, and to Risto Juvaste for supplying the rings.

As a corporate member, Bird Brain UK Ltd also supports our work.