Guernsey Trip 2011

16th May 2011

Catch 1

An early start on Monday being at the tip just after 6am saw a really good catching site but quite a stiff breeze to contend with make us think about how we set the net. We did however manage to set after some adjustment to a mound of earth, firing away from the tip and any vehicle movements and with the wind directly behind the net. A first load of waste was bought up in a bucket, but then a hotel waste lorry arrived and we were given this in the catching area. This was full of excellent food and after a quick flatten by Andy the compactor driver there were a lot of gulls down, in fact a real lot! After a very short wait an opportunity presented itself and a first catch was taken which turned out to be 333 birds. Extraction and processing took some time but all were dealt with very efficiently and well with a small team for the size of the catch. The weather was cool enough as it was still very early but the shelter constructed by the Guernsey team was perfect for shading the gulls. The final total included 49 new Lesser Black-backed Gulls (and one retrap) and a single Yellow-legged Gull which was the first for Guernsey. Once all the first catch was dealt with a short rest and refuelling (of the ringers!) took place before we set for a second attempt.

Catch 2

Very quickly after the set birds came back into the catching area and I decided to wait at the truck as a reasonable number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls seemed to be coming in to the catching area. Barry suggested we wait until we had about 20 in the catching area and when we had this number with virtually no air traffic I took the second catch which totalled 82 and included another 17 Lessers. An excellent start to the trip with 66 new Lessers ringed and over 400 birds to start off was better than we could have expected.

17th May 2011

Catch 1

An early start again at 6am saw lots of birds on the waste left out from last night before we had even set cannons. A quick set and wire up meant we were soon in position and ready. A run over and re positioning of the waste by Andy the compactor driver saw birds back very quickly on the waste, too many birds in fact! Safety was made even more difficult by a Great Black-backed Gull pulling an almost entire chicken carcass onto the edge of the plastic and then fighting with a number of Herring Gulls on the net! This in the end was a good thing as if we had fired we would almost certainly have ended up with another 400+ catch which would have just been too many. After a short time all the birds lifted and we were rewarded with not so many birds coming back but with a very good number of Lessers in the mix. Very soon things settled down and an opportunity presented itself and a catch of 186 birds was taken comprising a near 50/50 split of Herring and Lesser. A good extraction and efficient processing with all birds colour ringed saw us re-setting the net for a second attempt about 11:30am.

Catch 2

We asked Andy to move the waste further away from the net and wanted to try and get as many Lesser Black-backed Gulls onto the mud as possible for perhaps a smaller catch as it was now starting to get a bit warm and I was not keen to take a very big catch. This sort of worked! However, there were still a lot of Herring Gulls in the far end where the waste was and on firing I realised this was about the same size catch as the first one but there were still a good number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls which made it worth taking the catch. The mix of Herring to Lesser however was not as good as the first one but still respectable with 68 Lessers from a total of 180 birds.

18th May 2011

Catch 1

A six oíclock start again with a quick set and in position but the birds did not want to play as well as the previous days. We were trying to improve the number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and reduce the number of Herring Gulls and experimentation was the order of the morning, It took some time to get a reasonable number of birds into the catching area and in the end I decided to take a catch on what I though were about 15 Lessers. However, it was only 8 and gave the processing team something to do!

Catch 2

We re-set very quickly and decided to carry on with the plan of attempting to increase the number of Lessers. It was still very early and we had done really well in the first two days so we carried on but Herring Gulls still dominated in the catching area. We decided to fire on anything over 20 Lessers and when Barry was happy there were enough we took a catch. This was a bigger catch than the first attempt but still only 16 Lessers. I was conscious of the tiredness of the team and suggested we call it a day to get some rest as the Lessers did not seem to be wanting to play nicely. However, I was outvoted by the team who said lets re-set for a third time.

Catch 3

Well the decision was a good one. With some fresh waste coming in and Andy the compactor driver doing a fantastic job of moving the waste around to get birds in the right place we ended up with bare mud on two thirds of the catching area with a decent number of Lessers in the catching area and a reasonable reduction in Herring Gulls. On taking the catch and processing it was really pleasing that we managed 45 Lessers in the catch and proved that the enthusiasm of the team was well worth pushing that extra mile!!

19th May 2011

Catch 1

The team was very tired and another early start saw a quick set and an agreement that we would take it a little bit slower today. We also had a reduced team today and Friday was going to be better with new (and fresh!) team members arriving from Jersey and Guernsey. So the decision was to take two smaller and more leisurely catches today and then go for some larger catches on Friday. What was quite interesting and good was that we had also realised that if we can take an early catch there seems to be more Lessers feeding early before Herrings come in and push them off. So as soon as I had a good clear window and there were a reasonable number of Lessers and not too many Herrings I took the first catch for the day which was a very respectable 83 including 23 Lessers.

Catch 2

We processed the first catch and undertook a leisurely re-set with the view of doing the same sort of thing. Again taking the quick catch was the best option so as soon as I had a small number of birds down and around 20 Lessers the plan was to fire. It was not long before this happened and the second catch was only one more than the first!! So two perfect size catches for the team with another 43 Lessers caught for the day. Given this we packed up early and had a relaxing afternoon drinking beer and chilling out!!

20th May 2011

Catch 1

With a number of new team members and fresh ones raring to go we decided to really try and maximise the catching opportunity for the day. The weather forecast did look warm so there was a concern about the heat but we decided to play it by ear. Again having learnt that taking a quick catch before too many Herring Gulls came in to feed means we get good numbers of Lessers I was keen to take a catch as quickly as possible. Andy the compactor driver again did a great job of just stirring up the rubbish and getting birds interested quickly and an opportunity presented itself and a catch was taken. This was an excellent make up of Lesser to Herring with a 48/47 split from a total of 96 birds - the extra one being a Great Black-backed Gull.

Catch 2

Buoyed by our success and with a large team and small catch processing and re-setting was quick. The plan was to do the same again and this really worked with a lot of gulls coming into the catching area. Barry and I realised there were good numbers but we still estimated about 50 Lessers. With such a good number of Lessers in the catching area it was worth taking a catch when the opportunity presented itself even if we just ringed the Herrings from under the net. So a catch was taken and it was very pleasing to find the total of 87 Lessers in the catch. However, with 141 Herring we did not colour ring all of them and the last few were ringed directly from the net to speed up the process.

Catch 3

We set for a third time pleased with our success. Even though it was warm and it was clear that I was going to have to limit the catch this time to enable quick processing. After a considerable time with just either no birds or too many birds or too much air traffic or some other problem it was clear that the birds were not playing as nicely as for the first two catches!! So as we had set and there were opportunities we decided to take a catch when we had about 50 birds and 10 or so Lessers. When we eventually had this number the catch was taken but only 6 Lessers, however still overall for the day a fantastic total of Lessers. The shelter needed to be taken down and the team did this ready for Vic to take it away meaning we had no shelter for Saturday morning.

21st May 2011

Catch 1

Our last morning and with the success of the day before with good numbers of Lessers we were actually now getting confident that we might just be able to take a catch with enough Lessers in it to make 500 new Lessers for the week. So an early set and a target to take a catch by 08:30 due to having to be off the tip by 10am. Well of course today the birds did not want to play! Firstly no matter how much running around, turning of waste or dropping of buckets of fresh waste, birds just did not want to come into the catching area. The time pressure now kicked in and we needed to take a catch fairly soon. Andy the compactor driver was confident that we would get birds as he said when he started covering they birds always had a feeding frenzy on a Saturday.

At about 08:10 this is exactly what happened and of course we had loads of birds on our waste. At one point I estimated over 400 birds in the catching area! We just could not take this many birds at this time of the day. So we let them lift and come back. The plan was to try and take a quick catch before too many birds came in. However, there was just too much air traffic and streams of birds coming it the site which made it impossible to fire. What a ridiculous situation and at about 08:20 Barry had to go and frighten birds out of the catching area in the hope that not too many would come back. I just got back into the truck saying I canít believe I have just done that! The time pressure was now getting intense and I was actually shaking! I was within minutes of saying call it all off when a window presented itself and I was able to take a catch. It was not the biggest number of Lessers and we elected to ring all the Herrings straight out of the net to ensure we were able to clear up and get out of the tip before 10am. This worked well and we were off site by 09:30 having processed and loaded up the truck. The team regrouped at Paulís house where all the gear was sorted out, cleaned and the truck loaded ready for the journey home.

Summary

An excellent week which was more successful than we could have imagined with a final total of 1783 birds caught of which 1641 birds were new birds and a fantastic total of 449 new Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The weather held all week and the team performed really well all week working hard to extract and process birds, re-set the net and to ensure the operation ran very smoothly.

Thanks to all the team members over the week and I know the Guernsey team have declared the week another rounding success.

Paul Roper Return to home page

Background

For the third year running the NTGG have assisted Paul Veron on Guernsey with his gull project, undertaking an intensive week of cannon netting with the aim of catching as many of Paulís study species (Lesser Black-backed Gull) as possible.

The four member team arrived in Guernsey on the Sunday ready for the week of catching at Chouet Landfill site in the north of the island. A visit to the tip revealed an excellent catching area set aside for us in some shelter in the corner of this very small landfill site, quite close to the tip face. If the weather stayed good for the week the catching opportunities looked promising.

The rest of the catching team led by Paul Veron consisted of Guernsey residents and over the week fourteen people assisted in various ways helping with extracting, ringing, processing and general tasks to ensure the operation ran smoothly.

It turned out to be an excellent week which was more successful than we could have imagined with a final total of 1783 birds caught of which 1641 birds were new birds and a fantastic total of 449 new Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The weather held all week and the team performed really well all week working hard to extract and process birds, re-set the net and to ensure the operation ran very smoothly. Thanks to all the team members who helped during the week and I know the Guernsey team have declared the week another rounding success.


Read the report on the Guernsey Gulls blog


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Catch Totals

16th May 2011

Catch 1

Species New Retrap Total
Lesser Black-backed Gull 49 1 50
Yellow-legged Gull 1 0 1
Herring Gull 25030280
Great Black-backed Gull 2 0 2
Catch totals30231333

Catch 2

Species New Retrap Total
Lesser Black-backed Gull 17 2 19
Herring Gull 59 3 62
Great Black-backed Gull 1 0 1
Catch totals77582

17th May 2011

Catch 1

Species New Retrap Total
Lesser Black-backed Gull87592
Herring Gull 89594
Catch totals17610186

Catch 2

Species New Retrap Total
Lesser Black-backed Gull63 5 68
Herring Gull 9711108
Great Black-backed Gull 2 2 4
Catch totals16218180

18th May 2011

Catch 1

Species New Retrap Total
Lesser Black-backed Gull 71 8
Herring Gull 32032
Catch totals39140

Catch 2

Species New Retrap Total
Lesser Black-backed Gull16 2 18
Herring Gull 9910106
Great Black-backed Gull 1 0 1
Catch totals11312125

Catch 3

Species New Retrap Total
Lesser Black-backed Gull 387 45
Herring Gull 1219130
Great Black-backed Gull 40 4
Catch totals16316179

19th May 2011

Catch 1

Species New Retrap Total
Lesser Black-backed Gull22123
Herring Gull 54559
Great Black-backed Gull 10 1
Catch totals77683

Catch 2

Species New Retrap Total
Lesser Black-backed Gull17320
Herring Gull 62264
Catch totals79584

20th May 2011

Catch 1

Species New Retrap Total
Lesser Black-backed Gull42648
Herring Gull 45247
Great Black-backed Gull 10 1
Catch totals88896

Catch 2

Species New Retrap Total
Lesser Black-backed Gull 7710 87
Herring Gull 12912141
Catch totals20622228

Catch 3

Species New Retrap Total
Lesser Black-backed Gull 51 6
Herring Gull 33235
Great Black-backed Gull 20 2
Catch totals40343

21st May 2011

Catch 1

Species New Retrap Total
Lesser Black-backed Gull 90 9
Herring Gull 1105115
Catch totals1195124

Trip Totals

Species New Retrap Total
Lesser Black-backed Gull 44944 493
Yellow-legged Gull 1 0 1
Herring Gull 1177961273
Great Black-backed Gull 14 2 16
Totals16411421783