News

TRIP - Pitsea - 23/01/2016: A day that looked like it was going to be a problem turned out to be very good. It is difficult to describe the feeling when you are half set and find that Baz has the dropper cable at home and is not there on the day! However, a little bit of cutting and splicing on the main cable soon had us up and running. First press of the button gave nothing. On checking a trip over the cable by someone who will remain nameless (Aron) had pulled out the far connection. On re connecting birds were quickly back and soon a first catch was taken. With it being early we re set in the same fashion and after another roll from the compactor driver a second catch was in the bag. An excellent day with 448 birds caught. One Russian control was the highlight as for two ringers were a Rook and a Carrion Crow. Many thanks to the tip staff once again who were fantastic.23-Jan-2016


TRIP - Pitsea - 16/01/2016: A very cold start was full of promise and for once actually delivered. Fantastic support from the tip staff who put us on a set right next to the tip face (and Stuart threatened to stick his radio some where unpleasant if I did not catch here!). Luckily for me the first roll of the only dust cart waste brought birds down and after only two lifts a first catch was taken of just over 100 birds. As it was very early we elected to set for a second attempt whilst we processed birds. What was then interesting was that there was only one feeding session in about three hours which did not look good. However, with only a handful of Herring Gulls left to process birds started feeding again and I decided to ask the compactor driver to roll our waste again. This did the trick and soon a second catch was in the bag. Again it was just over 100 birds but what we did not know until it was pulled out of a bag was that there was a fantastic adult Caspian Gull in the catch. All birds were processed safely and efficiently and we left the tip just after 2pm. Many thanks to the tip staff who were fantastic and again supported both catches.16-Jan-2016


TRIP - Pitsea - 05/12/2015: A tough day with a very strong 'breeze' that made setting the net rather a challenge! First obstacle was preventing the plastic strip from blowing away and after we had collected about half a tonne of rubble, to weigh it down, we had somewhere to lay the net. We had been allocated a site close to the tip face and this also provided some logistical problems for the firing team, with lorries wanting to turn near to our firing cables. This resulted in the cables having to be disconnected on several occasions and then rechecked. This wasn't too much of a problem though as we didn't get a dust cart until almost 11am, so except for the odd Starling and Rook we didn't have very much in the catching area. However this all changed as soon as the dust cart dumped its load and after one roll with the compacter we had a large number of gulls feeding avidly. Initially there were too many small gulls 'hanging in the wind but as the bigger gulls moved in things settled more and we quickly got the chance to take a good catch of 172 birds including 30 Great Black-backs.05-Dec-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.