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TRIP - Pitsea - 21/03/2015: Well it does not get much better than that!!! A reasonable size team gathered on a cold breezy day and we were greeted with a light shower. Deciding to push on we set and got two excellent dust carts with a good amount of food on each. The first catch taken by Aron was difficult but 203 birds was a good total. Given this we decided to re set and wait for something good - there had been a couple of Iceland Gulls seen on the tip so we are always hopeful! After a short while birds came back onto feed and then to my surprise a second winter Iceland was in the catching area - Aron pressed the button but nothing happened - he had forgotten to connect! The birds all lifted and we lost the Iceland - I thought that was going to be it! But as we know birds often come back to the same spot if they have not finished feeding so I watched the spot where it was - then to my utter amazement a full adult Iceland Gull arrived at the same spot! Aron could not fire due to air traffic and then to my horror the flock lifted apart from about 20 birds - one of which was the Iceland - I am sure I just said to Aron fire with now swearing..........! With a small second catch taken early everyone was keen to re set! So we did and said again we would wait for something good. We did not have to wait long and a fantastic first winter Caspian arrived in the catching area - Aron did not take long to get safety and a nice third catch of 80+ birds was taken. An excellent day all round and what a day to finish off the season. Massive thanks to the tip staff for all their support this winter.21-Mar-2015


TRIP - Pitsea - 07/02/2015: A good day with a small and not so experienced team a catch of 326 was probably about right. The single catch was processed slowly and all except three birds were colour ringed. One German Black-headed control and five of our own birds retrapped. Thanks once again to the tip staff for an excellent day in supporting our activities.07-Feb-2015


TRIP - Pitsea - 24/01/2015: A large team assembled for our second field session of the year. We were were met with a large queue of lorries although only one was a dustcart. We were given an excellent set and there were lots of birds on the tip. The tip sent us two dustcarts and when the compactor came over lots of birds were down quickly. The first catch had two problems associated with it. Firstly there were lots of safety issues with birds all over the net. Secondly the wind had shifted about 30 degrees round from the original position and when we were able to fire the net hung and we lost around two thirds of the birds in the catching area that were able to beat the net out. This resulted in a catch of 100 birds from firing on around 300. We made the decision to change the set and swung the whole set around by 30 degrees. This was more effective and although the second catch was difficult when we took it the net went out much better and the second catch was 292 birds. Huge thanks to the tip staff for getting us the only two dustcarts that came onto the tip.24-Jan-2015


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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.