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TRIP - Pitsea - 14/01/2017: Our first trip out for 2017 and a very nice day. Only one dust cart which the tip very kindly dumped for us before we had even got up onto the tip! Birds were on the waste already so it was clear there was food in it. After setting and a roll over we had a small number of birds in the catching area. However, what was clear was that it was a really nice mixed catch with a good number of Common Gulls in it so we decided to take it. About 100 birds including a Rook! As it was early it was worth a second set and with the small first catch processed with biometrics taken as we neared the end a second roll from the compactor soon had birds down. Mostly small gulls but soon a second catch was in the bag. Highlights were a control Common Gull from Germany and a Norwegian Great Black-backed. Nothing else of note but mot of both catches colour ringed. Thanks once again to the tip staff for supporting our work again.14-Jan-2017


TRIP - Pitsea - 17/12/2016: What a great way to finish the year! Two catches on a foggy day with a big team. Dave took a good a difficult catch with a fox threatening to lift all the birds for the first catch. Nice early start with 128 birds. We re set as it was early and after a few problems losing birds playing a waiting game worked and a decent second catch of 305 was excellent for the large team to process split into a large and small gull set. Two interesting birds a nice Med Gull and what was almost certainly an F2 or F3 Herring Hybrid with probably Glaucus ancestry somewhere in it. What was remarkable today was the 27 retraps and controls - this is probably one of the biggest percentages we have ever had. Huge thanks to the tip staff once again for fantastic support in getting birds into the catching area for us.17-Dec-2016


TRIP - Pitsea - 03/12/2016: A small and inexperienced team assembled knowing these sessions are now difficult. The small team went one down due to a no show and then another team member had to go for a small emergency so we were then reduced to a team of 9. Due to this I needed to reduce the catch as one of the size of the last one would not be able to be coped with by a small team. We did this by placing the waste a little further from the net to reduce numbers. The first dust card did not seem to have much food and no birds showed any interest. A second dust cart seemed much more attractive and and soon a good number of birds were down. We allowed a couple of lifts and my intention was to take a reasonably quick catch for more Black Heads rather than to wait for the large gulls - after a short while an opportunity came up and a catch was taken which turned out to be 249 birds. There was one control Black-headed Gull from Finland and one from Lithuania. A single UK control Herring Gull was the only other bird that was not new or a NTGG bird. A good extraction and very smooth processing, although a little slow with the small team went very well and thanks to all team members for their efforts. Many thanks to the tip staff who once again were superb in their efforts to get us birds.03-Dec-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.