TRIP - Pitsea - 10/10/2015: Another tough day with birds not wanting to feed early on and again we had to wait until the main tip started to cover over before birds showed any interest in our waste. It was full of food so it is unclear why birds are waiting so long until they come on to feed. It may be because it has been very warm and birds did not need to feed but it is interesting never the less. Eventually Aron was able to take a catch and the timing was just right with a very nice catch of 172 birds including 2 Yellow-legs. Thanks once again to the tip for their hard work and enabling us to continue activities and keep the study going.10-Oct-2015

TRIP - Pitsea - 19/09/2015: Great start to the season. Aron took a good catch of just under 100 birds. It was a warm day and birds did not want to feed so we had to wait until 11:30 before we could take a catch. Worth the wait though and in warm conditions the team processed the birds quickly and efficiently. Huge thanks to the tip staff and Stuart who all worked hard to help us take a catch which paid off in the end. 57 birds colour ringed including another YL Gull, and six Great Black-backed Gulls. A nice bonus for one of the team was a Rook gladly accepted as a ringing tick. Next session planned for 3rd October.19-Sep-2015

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 white winged 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 white winged gull - 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. The White winged gull from the second catch was initially identified in the hand as a large male Iceland Gull. However, after photographs of it in the field and a review of the measurements was undertaken it was clear that this was a small (probably female) Glaucous Gull. Initially the measurements were thought to be in the range for large Iceland and the bird did not have the angry look of Glauc, seemed to have a small bill and took the ring size for Herring Gull. However, we did discuss the bulky size of the bird and there were some doubts that were discussed on the day but we stuck with Iceland until photos were send the measurements reviewed. This bird has now been assigned to the species Glaucous Gull and becomes the groups first Glaucous Gull ever caught.21-Mar-2015

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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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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.