TRIP - Ockendon - 16/02/2019: We have undertaken a test at a new tip a Ockendon just near the M25 today and after a long wait with no lorries of food we hit the jackpot with a large vehicle full of food. This resulted in a really quick catch of just under 400 birds. Given we had a time limit on the tip and we were under pressure with a large catch we ended up having to let about 50 birds go but in the end managed to process 323 birds. Interesting catches included Norwegian, Danish and a York tip Herring gulls along with three of our own birds one which is nine years old.16-Feb-2019

TRIP - Pitsea - 13/03/2018: Well that is it for Pitsea. The end has come as we knew it would. It has gone exactly the same as Rainham and the lack of food waste very squarely equals lack of birds. For our last session we had to work very hard for just over 100 birds in three catches. The first catch just after 10am was reasonable with a total of 83 birds caught. Giving the reasonably inexperienced team the opportunity to look closely at gull ages and get their hand in. There was one interesting bird in the catch which both Rich Cope and myself initially thought was a good Caspian Gull under the net. On close examination of the bird it was clear it had conflicting features and we strongly believe this bird was a Herring x Caspian hybrid. The bird was colour ringed and it will be interesting to see what this bird is called as if seen in the field. If we could have replicated that catch two more times it would have been good but it was not to be. The second catch was a poor decision by myself as I could not see some of the catching area and thought we had a good number of birds. Safety was completely clear so I took the decision to fire only to find most of the small flock was actually outside the catching area. The third catch was a deliberate decision because hardly any birds were coming into the catching area. However, when we had a fantastic full adult Med Gull land in the catching area it seemed a fitting thing to finish with a good bird and take the small catch just for the Med Gull (much to the delight of Mark Stanley who ended up ringing it!). It was interesting to see the behaviour of the gulls and at no point did we have good numbers of gulls in the catching area - with little food birds picked and left the catching area very quickly making any catch of a large number of birds just not possible. So at the end we must give a massive thank you to all the staff past and present at Pitsea going right back to the Cleanaway days who have supported and facilitated our work on site. The group finishes with a grand total of 46,224 new birds ringed and 24,105 retraps, controls and colour ring sightings over the 34 years of field work. In the latter years many of these have been colour ringed and we hope to continue to get data and sightings on many of these birds in the coming years. It would also be remiss not to thank all of the team members and people that have come out to help on catch days and stood in the freezing cold or up to their ankles in mud (or extracted birds from even worse substances!). Without the commitment of such dedicated ringers and ornithologists this project just would not have been possible - I thank you all as I know Brian Manton would have also done so Ė my final thanks go to Brian himself for being the instigator of gull catching at Pitsea, Rainham and Mucking landfill sites and for training me to carry on the work which now comes to a close. If we do find another tip in the near future we may undertake some attempts at catches but I strongly suspect this will not be the case with all UK landfills now only receiving commercial waste and not household which contains the food which has supported these gull populations since the tips opened in the 1950ís. 13-Mar-2018

TRIP - Pitsea - 17/01/2018: A first session after the news of the tip closure in March. This may be the last session although we are planning two more before the end of the winter if the tip are agreeable to us holing a couple more catches to use up our last colour rings. A very windy day on occasion I was close to cancelling the session. However, with good numbers of Great Black-backs on the tip it was worth carrying on. After a couple of hours wait for a vehicle with decent food on it we received an arctic with dustcart waste and a lot of food. We then had far too many gulls for the small and inexperienced team. I had ensured waste was not too close to the net for safety reasons and to limit the catch. After a few lifts and some of the gulls thinning out an opportunity presented itself and a catch was able to be taken. Amazingly our first ever Russian control Great Black-backed was a great highlight amongst the 178 birds caught.17-Jan-2018

TRIP - Pitsea - 03/06/2017: A visit to the tip was made on 3rd June to assess numbers of birds there. I was rather perturbed to discover that there was no operational activity at all and no active tip face. On driving round I found the partially covered over tip face from Friday which was covered in Rooks. Just a short distance away there were around 300 gulls loafing on an earth bank. I decided to spend some time looking through them for colour rings. At the same time I had the spring trap and two loafs of bread so I decided to set the spring trap just in case any birds felt hungry. I was able to assess the numbers whilst reading colour rings and obtained around 15 readings, mostly Black-headed but also one Herring and one Great Black-backed Gull. There were fairly even numbers of Black-headed and Herring Gull (about 150 each), about five or ten of Great Black-back and Lesser Black-back and two adult Med Gulls. After about 30 minutes of watching a few Black-heads started to show some interest in the bread in the trap. Very quickly lots of birds were showing interest and suddenly there was an adult Med right in the catching area so I pulled the trap catching five birds in one pull. All birds were colour ringed and biometrics taken. Unfortunately after the catch I waited for another hour but most of the birds having realised that there was no activity on the tip had disappeared and there were only about twenty birds loafing on the tip. I decided to pack up and leave the tip.03-Jun-2017

TRIP - Pitsea - 25/03/2017: Our last field session for this winter. A small but experienced team assembled and the wind got up really quickly. Not many birds on the tip and clearly there had been a big clear out. One of the first birds I saw on the tip face was a nice first winter Caspian so we were hopeful of something different. We got a nice early dust cart with plenty of food and once it was rolled over we had birds down. It took some time for a window to appear with birds hanging in the wind making taking a catch really difficult. After several lifts and nothing interesting in the catching area I decided to attempt a catch and with good safety from Dave we soon took a catch of 201 birds. We decided to re set and just see what happened whilst we were processing. A second lorry with more food on it was soon flattened in front of the net and plenty of birds came down. Very little of interest but then a Caspian was hanging over the catching area but not landing. Rich then found a Glaucous Gull which was flying around but again just would not land so it soon went off high to the south. We waited and waited and eventually another Caspian was hanging in the air about the catching area. With very few birds in the catching area I only needed it to land - as soon as it did I took the catch including the Caspian - a great way to finish the season. Huge thanks to the tip and a great team effort again.25-Mar-2017

TRIP - Pitsea - 11/03/2017: On arrival at the tip the tide was out and there were no birds!! Slightly worrying as it was also a warm day. We set none the less and shortly a bin lorry arrived to which a good number of Black-heads appeared out of thin air! A few quick roll overs with the compactor and we soon had a lot of birds down in the catching area. Once safe a decent catch of just under 300 birds was secured.11-Mar-2017

TRIP - Pitsea - 25/02/2017: A team led by Aron whilst I was away proved successful and kept our numbers for this winter up. A good catch of 248 birds in windy conditions was a useful addition to the annual totals.25-Feb-2017

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

TRIP - Pitsea - 19/11/2016: Another interesting day. Again all or nothing. A third dust card had food in and we got all the gulls in the catching area! One lift looked like we were going to loose some birds but most of them came back and Aron took the first available catch resulting in 419 mostly large gulls. I single Belgium control and a number of our own retraps. Thanks to the tip team for their support and getting us the dust cart with food on.19-Nov-2016

TRIP - Pitsea - 15/10/2016: Well that was interesting!! We have arrived at a point we have expected for some time. Only five vehicles came into the tip today and there was a real lack of food available. With the tide out there were not many birds on the tip to start with. However, I made a rash comment earlier on - we will either get none or all of them! Just gone ten o'clock a second dust cart came in and it was clear when it dropped in front of the net it had a lot of food in it with birds straight down. After a few safety issues a window presented itself and a catch was taken. Final total was 418 birds mostly large gulls. This is certainly our largest single large gull catch. 27 GBB's was a good total and considering how few LBB'S on the tip catching 3 was good. One bird was put down as a hybrid which we initially ringed as a LBB, however on reflection I think this bird had some Herring Gull in it's ancestry. Controls were interesting with a Herring Gull from Stevanger Norway, one from Holland and one from Belgium. Well done to the small team and a huge thanks to the tip staff who worked fantastically to get birds into the catching area.15-Oct-2016

TRIP - Pitsea - 11/06/2016: A second session attempting for Med Gulls did unfortunately not deliver. Very few Med Gulls around probably not more than six. Two canon net catches taken by Aron with a total of 110 birds for the day which included six Rooks. A single Med Gull was trapped in a spring trap.11-Jun-2016

TRIP - Pitsea - 04/06/2016: Canon netting today was cancelled due to the threat of showers and difficulties with staff shortages on the tip. I decided to go and read some rings and see how many Med Gulls there were on the tip as this is the time of year they build up. On arrival two adult Med Gulls were the first birds I saw. I had also decided to take my large raptor spring trap and put some bread in it with a pull string just to see if anything went in whilst I was ring reading. After a slow start with mostly Herring Gulls on the tip a few more Med's started to turn up. Then amazingly one walked straight into the spring trap, a failed pull saw the bird beat the trap out. Very quickly a second one had done the same. I realised that the pull string was the problem and with a slight adjustment a French ringed bird was soon back in the catching area and a quick pull on the string saw it safely secured. Over the next hour and a half the turn over of Med's seemed quite high and four more were caught one more French bird and three new ones. A metal ringed Black-headed Gull was also trapped along with two new Black-headed Gulls. A very successful and unexpected morning and I think this method will be deployed again in the next couple of weeks. Apologies to all the team who I called off this weekend hopefully we can do the same or better next weekend.04-Jun-2016

TRIP - Pitsea - 02/04/2016: We don't normally go in April but with quite a lot of cancelled sessions and some interest in going one last time a small team assembled to see what was around. No gulls on the tip when we arrived and started to set but as lorries came in birds started to feed. We soon had a dust cart and shortly birds came onto the waste. As I was nervous about loosing birds or them going off the feed I took a fairly quick catch. This turned out to be very useful around 100 birds. We took the decision to take lots of biometrics and all Black-headed Gulls had wing and head a bill measurements taken which was great practice for people. We had set again and as we had finished the last few Black-heads as it was getting warm I asked Dave to get the compactor driver to give us another roll over. Birds came quickly back on the feed and I noticed that there were a good number of Lesser's in the catching area so I decided to take a catch as quickly as I could. This was a good decision and another 19 Lesser's were soon being extracted. All of these had biometrics taken and all birds except a few Herrings from the first catch were colour ringed. A great finish to the season and a really pleasing day with a good small team. Fantastic work once again by the tip staff and a great setting location went towards a successful day.02-Apr-2016

TRIP - Pitsea - 12/03/2016: I may need to check the records but I think today might be a record with a final total of 858 birds caught. With large numbers of Black-heads on the move two large catches gave an excellent day total. A few issues with Foxes to start with gave us a bit of a headache then Dave took a superb catch. Once extracted and part way through the processing Alan gave us another roll and birds were soon down. With a large team I elected to take a second catch and again just as big. Totals given below. Excellent work by all the team to process a large number of birds.12-Mar-2016

TRIP - Pitsea - 27/02/2016: After a dreadful run of weather and not being able to get out since 23 Jan a large team assembled on the tip. Not many birds to start with and not much feeding but an early set saw us ready. Around 9:15 am a dust cart came in and was dropped in front of the net. Birds started to feed as soon as the compactor flattened the waste and we soon had a large number of birds in the catching area. I realised that there were a good number of Lesser BB's in the area so I took the opportunity at the first small window to take the catch. It turned out to be very worthwhile with 299 birds including 21 new Lesser BB's and 130 of Herring and Black-headed and a couple of GBB's. A few retraps and two controls one Dutch and one Belgium. A few of the team did quite a bit of ring reading and there will be a good number of sightings also going onto the database. A great day and excellent support from the tip staff as always.27-Feb-2016

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

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

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

TRIP - Rainham - 02/01/2015: A short notice trip to Rainham was very productive with a final total of 229 birds all of which were colour ringed. Huge thanks to the tip who were fantastic in helping us make two good catches.02-Jan-2015

TRIP - Pitsea - 06/12/2014: A cold day with a hard frost meant there were lots of birds on site. The first load of waste did not seem to have a lot of food but soon a dustcart bought in a good load and soon birds were down. Great work from the compactor driver meant we were soon able to take a catch. We re set and with only a few more Herring Gulls to do there was the possibility of another catch which we elected to take. The final total of 567 birds caught of which 451 were colour ringed was a fantastic day.06-Dec-2014

TRIP - Pitsea - 15/11/2014: A difficult day again. Mild weather and lack of food meant little feeding going on although there were good numbers of birds on the tip. Excellent work by Alan the compactor driver resulted in a catch being able to be taken of just over 200 birds.15-Nov-2014

TRIP - Pitsea - 27/09/2014: A warm day which was difficult to take a catch of any size. The birds agreed and for the first three hours we only had two birds in the catching area! After some excellent work by Alan the compactor driver the birds worked out that the tip was about to close and we went from no birds to pretty much all of them! A lift was required and it was not long before the flock obliged and much smaller numbers returned enabling us to take a catch of a decent size. Final total was 104 birds which were processed and released quickly and efficiently.27-Sep-2014

TRIP - Pitsea - 30/08/2014: A small team went to make an attempt at Pitsea after the week before Steve Arlow had seen over 50 Yellow-legs on the tip. We were not disappointed today and again we estimated over 50 Yellow-legs were present. The small catch was worth taking with the three Yellow-legs and with a warm day and small team it was a perfect catch and processing session allowing us to look hard at the moult in Herring Gulls and assess our ageing criteria. 30-Aug-2014

TRIP - Pitsea - 08/03/2014: In interesting day which started with a miss fire catching only 43 birds. The second set went more to plan and the fire was when we wanted it to be with a nice total of 163. The third set was waiting for something good and with an Iceland Gull around it was worth waiting to see what happened. We had a nice adult Med Gull arrive in the catching area and with good numbers in the catching area we decided to take the catch. A good day all round with a good total of 361 new and 10 retraps and controls.08-Mar-2014

TRIP - Rainham - 22/02/2014: At long last we have made our fist visit for 2014 and managed two very nice catches. A close set to the tip was beneficial and there were a reasonable number of gulls on the feed although mainly small gulls. Large gulls were noticeably absent. Dave took the first catch with a nice mix including a Yellow-leg and I took the second catch which was mostly Black-heads and a Common Gull. The second catch included a Danish control. With gulls not packed too closely together both catches were almost identical numbers. Two loads of shredded waste obviously had just enough food in to bring gulls on to feed but not a great deal and we are now really seeing the reduction in food waste at Rainham. The real value again was the fact we managed with the two smaller catches to colour mark 214 of the 217 birds. Thanks once again to the tip staff and particularly Peter and Mark the compactor driver. 22-Feb-2014

TRIP - Pitsea - 24/01/2014: A large team assembled for our second field session of 2015. We were met with a large queue of lorries as we arrived but only one was a dust cart. On going up onto the tip the set we had been given was excellent and there were lots of birds on the tip. We set and had two dustcarts sent over to us by the tip (these turned out to be the only ones in all day). All looked good as the compactor flattened the waste and lots of birds came in. Unfortunately two problems occurred. There were lots of safety issues and there were birds all over the net which stopped us firing quickly. The second issue was the wind had swung round about 30 degrees and when we did fire the net hung and shifted a fair way left. This meant probably around two thirds of the birds in the catching area beat the net out. The catch of 100 birds was good but could have been so much bigger. With this in mind and the fact it was still early we elected to swing the set round by the required 30 degrees. This proved much more effective and although the second catch was still very difficult with birds hanging in the air and dropping food in the safety zone soon a second catch of 292 birds was taken. Massive thanks to the tip once again for excellent support and sorting us out the only two dustcarts of the day. 24-Jan-2014

TRIP - Pitsea - 28/12/2013: Our last session of the year. This weekend is often good a coupled with the winds there were a lot of Great Black-backed Gulls on the tip. We were a little further away from the tip face than we would have preferred but the tip team did a fantastic job of getting us a load of waste and pushing it into the catching area. A final total of 202 new birds with three retraps and a single Norwegian control was good and with the single catch we were able to colour ring 189 of the 206 birds caught. Once again thanks to the tip staff for their hard work.28-Dec-2013

TRIP - Rainham - 30/11/2013: Today we could only get access to Rainham and on arrival it was clear there was not many lorries coming in. We set and waited, and waited! Eventually just gone ten a lorry with some waste came in and we decided to take it and make an attempt. Dave was in charge for the day and took an excellent catch (despite it containing 19 Starlings - 3 of which Barry managed to let go before ringing!) A good total of 213 new birds with 3 control and two retrap Black-headed Gulls. Thanks again to the excellent efforts of the tip team again and excellent work from them effected the catch.30-Nov-2013

TRIP - Rainham - 16/11/2013: An excellent day at Rainham and first huge thanks to the tip staff Peter and Mark who worked so hard to effect the catch for us. A single catch of 187 new birds (which included 4 Starlings) and some interesting others! A German control (colour ringed) Yellow-legged Gull, a Dutch control (colour ringed) Lesser Black-backed Gull, a control BH Gull and two control Herring Gulls. Two birds put down as Caspian, the first 99% certain and the second hmmm! The second bird may have some hybrid in it as it was not a classic but we were fairly sure it was not a normal Herring Gull. Thanks once again for all the support from the tip and a great team effort and a day of quality rather than quantity. 16-Nov-2013

TRIP - Pitsea - 05/10/2013: A decent start to the season considering there were not that many birds on site. Some of the Guernsey team had also come over for the session and were pleased to catch some Black-headed Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls. Two small catches for the inexperienced team were also just right and people were able to spend time looking at the finer points of ageing Herring Gulls.05-Oct-2013

TRIP - Pitsea - 29/06/2013: Another small team assembled for a second summer attempt primarily at Med Gulls. There were a few more on the tip than at the start of June but still not big numbers suggesting that breeding is still taking place. Despite the wind and a few minor problems with a fox and two lorries we eventually managed to get a few Med Gulls in the catching area and took a small catch which included three Meds. The small catch allowed us to colour ring and take biometrics on all birds which is a nice change. Thanks to all the tip team for excellent help once again and a good day was had by all.29-Jun-2013

TRIP - Pitsea - 01/06/2013: At long last we were able to make an attempt at the time Mediterranean Gulls are visiting the tip. Unfortunately things are late this year and there were not many birds. However a small team took a nice catch including two Mediterranean Gulls and 24 Lesser Black-backs which was very pleasing. Two Rooks were also our first for some time. What was really interesting was the number of gulls on the tip, particularly of Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. With the warm weather, a single early catch was all that was possible and with a small team and we were all cleared up by noon. There were probably around 10 Mediterranean Gulls, seen mainly in pairs and generally calling. They seem to come in and snatch and grab with only Black-headed Gulls and larger gulls feeding on the ground for any length of time.01-Jun-2013

TRIP - Rainham - 02/03/2013: A very hard day at Rainham today. The tip staff were fantastic and persisted in helping us get gulls into the catching area resulting in a single catch of 168 birds; 166 Gulls and two Carrion Crows.02-Mar-2013

TRIP - Pitsea - 16/02/2013: We know that in February we can take large catches of Black-headed Gulls. Well this was a "mega" day! Our biggest day ever with a grand total, in two catches, of 845 birds. Some fantastic work by the compactor driver Alan got lots of birds into the catching area and two nice catches were taken.16-Feb-2013

NEWS: On Tuesday 12th February the NTGG took three members to assist Jez Blackburn with an attempt at a catch at Milton Tip in Cambridgeshire. This site was used to catch gulls many years ago by Jeff Kew and there has been no activity on this site for probably well over 20 years! However Jez has now obtained permission to ring there.

We all had to do another induction and any new ringers operating on the site will need to undertake one.

The tip is a very small affair and probably only has two or three years capacity before it closes. However, it is an interesting site clearly used as a feeding site by many of the gulls which migrate through the UK inland and over farmland, specifically Lesser Black-backed Gulls. This was borne out by the catch we took which included 70 of this species, almost all of which were adults.

The tip staff were fantastic and again their co-operation and hard work was the main thing that ensured that we secured a catch. The total was 190 new birds and one control comprising the following:

Black-headed Gull - 98 new, 1 control (Lithuania)
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 70
Herring Gull - 19
Great Black-backed Gull - 1
Yellow-legged Gull - 1
Total - 191

Jez is planning another trip on 19th March and if any NTGG members are available to assist please contact Jez direct . 14-Feb-2013

TRIP - Pitsea - 02/02/2013: A difficult day being a little way from the tip and in a position past the site due to earth works and lorry movements for the day. However, as always the tip staff were fantastic and arranged two loads of waste the second of which soon attracted lots of birds into the catching area. A single catch of 277 birds was an excellent achievement given the length of time we had to wait for birds to get interested. Highlights were a Russian Herring Gull and 14 Great Black-backed Gulls. A bird which we thought might be a Caspian Gull was eventually decided to be a hybrid with some elements of Caspian or Yellow-leg in it although the full provenance of its lineage is potentially questionable and still very unclear!! [Update: the bird was re-sighted on 30 Nov 2013 and then appeared to be a Great Black-backed Gull]. Thanks to all the team and a great day with 99 of the 277 birds colour ringed.02-Feb-2013

TRIP - Pitsea - 26/01/2013: An excllent day with a very small team and a single catch of 353 new birds 9 retraps and 3 controls. One retrap Black-headed Gull turned out to be 27 years and 57 days old. A retrap Common Gull turned out to be four years old and is now colour ringed. Two Belgium controls and 100 birds colour ringed all went towards an excellent day.26-Jan-2013

TRIP - Pitsea - 12/01/2013: An excellent day with a large team we managed two catches of around 300 each catch. Final day total of 600 new birds and 5 controls/retraps. Two good dustcarts full of waste and excellent support and help by the tip staff meant we nearly doubled our totals for this winter in one day! 12-Jan-2013

TRIP - Rainham - 15/12/2012: Another tricky day with very few lorries coming in. Due to the setting location We tried a different approach and the compactor driver Mark pushed some of the waste from the previous day's mound down into the catching area. This worked OK and we were able to take a catch although not a big one as there were not many birds on the tip. However, another really good day with fantastic help from the tip staff and without them we would not have made a catch. The really interesting thing is that we colour ringed 128 of the 130 birds caught which is excellent value and one of the bonuses of taking small catches we end up colour ringing more of the catch. 15-Dec-2012

TRIP - Pitsea - 24/11/2012: Cannon netting was cancelled today due to the weather, however a few of the group decided to go to read colour rings. I also wanted to experiment with a Norwegian style trapping method for a PhD student who has approached me to attempt to catch gulls at Billingsgate Fish Market. The trap did work but with lots of food available we only caught 10 birds. The day was of value though with 42 colour rings read including a Norwegian Herring Gull and a Norwegian Great Black-backed. One of our Black-headed Gulls, a Herring Gull from Bristol and many of our own.24-Nov-2012

TRIP - Rainham - 03/11/2012: A very tricky day with a tight area using the small net. Strong wind held lots of birds in the air and taking a catch was very difficult. With a small team the catch of 141 birds was just right and all birds were colour ringed today adding excellent value to the catch. Thanks to all for their hard work and as always the tip staff who were excellent at getting birds into the catching area in difficult conditions with little food waste coming in.03-Nov-2012

TRIP - Pitsea - 13/10/2012: An excellent day given we have just found out that there is a DEFRA directive on no food waste onto landfill sites. Pitsea is now treating food waste differently and there is little coming on to the main tip. However, there is clearly still enogh food for birds to scavange and three catches were taken today due to good weather and fantastic help from the tip staff. Interesting days ahead. Highlights of the day were a Belgium ringed Herring Gull, three Yellow-legged Gulls and the very interesting early catch of 66 new Great Black-backed Gulls all of which were colour ringed. A single retrap Great Black-backed was from November 2010. The third catch taken by Dave Dutton was one of those classic feeding at lunch time before the tip closes sessions and huge thanks must go to the excellent work of the compactor driver to get the birds onto the waste. Thanks to all the team for a long but valuable day.13-Oct-2012

August and September catch attempts: Many group members will be aware that we planned catches on 18 August and 15 September at Rainham to specifically target Yellow-legged and Caspian Gulls. Both of these days were particularly warm days with low tides on the Thames. However, in past years this has still not been a problem and although we know warm weather is not conducive to catching we have never failed to take a catch of some description. However, there appears to be some issues particularly at Rainham with the types of waste coming in.
To very quickly describe both days in August and September there were very few birds on the tip and many of these were not actively feeding on either the main tip face or the area we had been set aside in to attempt a catch. Excellent work by the compactor drivers failed to persuade any birds to come and feed in the catching area and on both days after a good few hours wait we decided to give up.
Having had a long discussion with the site foreman it is very clear that Rainham is now suffering from a lack of waste coming in to the site. What was noticeable on both these days was the lack of lorries that came to the tip and the fact that most of them were commercial vehicles with little or no domestic or food waste. There was clearly also shredded and sorted waste bought in from recycling facilities where most of the food waste appears to have been removed for composting. Whilst this is clearly good from an environmental perspective it may mean that catching at Rainham and possibly even Pitsea will become more difficult over this winter. We will monitor the situation and keep members informed of these issues throughout the winter.
Finally, what is interesting is that this is the reason we are conducting this study - what will happen to the population when the food runs out? We could actually be starting to see now what birds and populations do when this happens and it will be interesting when we get to December and early next year to see if birds are moving elsewhere or suffering any higher than normal mortality.
We appreciate people come out to ring gulls and a blank is disappointing for all attending those sessions but the continued support of members and patience will be appreciated this winter and we hope this is just a temporary blip and we can get back to catching some birds very soon! 08-Oct-2012

Guernsey Trip 2012: For the fourth 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. Luck was with us picking the only dry week in a long run of wet weather before and after the visit. It was an excellent week with a final total of 1091 birds caught of which 998 birds were new and almost half of which were Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Thanks to all the team members who helped during the week and particularly to Paul Veron for organising the trip and undertaking all the hard work to gain access to the tip and arrange a great team to work with. Read more details 03-Aug-2012

TRIP - Pitsea - 24/03/2012: Unbelievable! What a way to end a superb season. 375 birds is a good total in any normal day. A fair wait for the first catch but a nice selection of birds with a good number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Common Gull. However the best was yet to come with a second set to wait for something interesting, perhaps a Mediterranean or Caspian Gull. But after a short while a shout of Iceland soon turned into a Kumlien's. Tantalisingly it landed on the edge of the catching area and a full lift saw it go back over to the main tip. I had dismissed it and was concentrating on the Meds when it decided to land back smack in the middle of the catching area. With no safety issues a window very quickly meant a fire and the capture of our first Iceland Gull of the Kumlien's race. 24-Mar-2012

TRIP - Pitsea - 10/03/2012: An interesting day. A single catch to enable the team to get back for the AGM. A few small problems with birds just not settling in the catching area and a constant roll through of birds meant it was difficult to fire. Three attempts with the firing box meant it was clear there was a problem, so a quick removal of the seat in the truck meant we took the catch using the Land Rover battery! However, once we had it sorted it was effective and 419 birds in the single catch was really good. A good lift and really fast ringing operation thanks to Andy's roundabout! Big thanks again to the compactor drivers for their hard work in getting birds into the catching area.10-Mar-2012

TRIP - Pitsea - 25/02/2012: At the start of the day there were not many birds on the tip and with little waste coming in early we were worried that there would not be many birds caught. However, with two good loads of wastse put in front of the net thing got much better and in the end two catches were able to be taken with over 700 birds, 696 Gulls and 42 Starlings. A great team effort and excellent support from the tip team again led to a fantastic day.25-Feb-2012

International Gull Meeting attendance: Two of the North Thames Gull Group were at the International Gull Meeting from Thursday 16th Feb to Sunday 19th Feb 2012. A talk on the work of NTGG was given on the Friday to the conference at Hotel Zagreb which was received very well. There was much discussion over the weekend on a range of topics from Gull ID to ringing analysis and colour ring sightings. On the Sunday the plan was to undertake a catch with Luka for the IGM on the local tip in Zagreb and see if we could catch some gulls to show people. Luka was very busy with organising the weekend and asked me to take the catch for him. It is very interesting operating on another tip and it was clear that the birds behaved very differently to how they do in the UK. We baited the catching area and had to wait for birds to come down to feed. After a three hour wait I elected to take a catch with only 11 birds in the catch. However there were two Caspian Gulls in the catching area so it was worth it. The IGM participants were very happy to see these birds in the hand. We did however elect to set for a second attempt and waited for only a short while this time before taking another catch with more Caspian and Yellow-legged Gulls. The final totals for the day were: Black-headed Gull - 32 Common Gull - 2 Herring Gull - 3 Yellow-legged Gull - 29 Caspian Gull - 11 Lesser Black-backed Gull - 1 Luka was very pleased as this was the first LBB Gull caught in Croatia. All the birds were colour ringed and also swabs were taken for avian influenza testing. NTGG would like to thank Luka for a fantastic weekend and very good organisation of an excellent conference. 20-Feb-2012

TRIP - Rainham - 11/02/2012: Well it often goes that way!! On Friday when we were called off at Pitsea, so some running around and sorting out the possibility of a trip to Rainham turned out to be the best thing! Two really nice catches with lots of Common Gulls on the tip saw a final total of 44 Common Gulls ringed. Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also apparently on the move with the early push resulting in a good catch of this species too. We finally managed to catch some Black-headed Gulls and over the two catches 5 retraps and 9 controls was also an excellent result. The two Yellow-legged Gulls in the second catch were really the icing on the cake. 11-Feb-2012

TRIP - Pitsea - 28/01/2012: A great day. What looked like a difficult set turned out to be fine as there was little lorry movement and firing towards the road was not a problem. Two catches and the first in the bag for Dave Dutton. Very little of interest on the tip but the final total of 421 birds and 90 large gulls color ringed.28-Jan-2012

TRIP - Pitsea - 14/01/2012: The first session of 2012 was rather difficult. Birds were very jumpy and did not want to settle. Safety issues and a single Great Black-backed Gull caused problems once the air traffic had cleared and severl lifts of all the birds meant a frustrating couple of hours wait before a catch could be taken. Fantastic work by the compactor drivers also secured a catch and without their hard work we would have drawn our first blank. Final total of 276 was very good given the circumstances.14-Jan-2012

TRIP - Rainham - 17/12/2011: A fantastic way to end the year with a really nice catch of 260 birds of which again only 7 were Black-headed. We appear to have lost the ability to catch this species but with 129 large gulls colour ringed the value of the catch was fantastic. Mostly Herring Gulls and the wet conditions making a few birds a little dirty gave some interesing ID issues! However, KHD did well to pick out another Caspian much to the delight of BW. Two Yellow-legs and a nice sample of 25 Great Black-backs is an excellent total for Rainham. A really good team effort with a tricky shower in the middle of processing and again great work from the tip staff saw an excellent end to 2011.17-Dec-2011

TRIP - Pitsea - 03/12/2011: After calling the day off then back on again we arrived at a windy but dry tip. Setting position was good and there were lots of birds on the tip, lots and lots and lots of big gulls. After a late start due to the threat of rain a first catch was soon in the bag. Our first catch of over 100 Great Black-backed Gulls in one catch. We processed the birds then set for a second attempt. After a quick roll from the compactor driver we had good numbers of large gulls in the catching area again. Once fired and processed another sixty plus Great Black-backs was just incredible. A really good day with 476 in total of which only 19 were Black-headed Gulls.03-Dec-2011

TRIP - Pitsea - 19/11/2011: A good day in all. Warm weather still hampers the will of birds to feed on refuse and with few lorries with much food coming in not as simple as usual. However, some excellent persistence from the compactor drivers enabled two catches to be taken with a total of just over 400 birds being excellent considering the conditions. Large numbers of Herring Gulls have now arrived at Pitsea and there were clearly some Northern birds in with them 19-Nov-2011

TRIP - Rainham - 12/11/2011: The very mild weather meant birds did not seem particularly hungry. Also a lack of vehicles coming on to the tip meant there were not many birds around. A good set and a nice load of waste flattened for us soon had a reasonable number of birds down. After a few lifts and some safety issues a catch was taken. We re set but birds did not come back down in time to take a second catch. However, the day was good with 65 large gulls colour ringed including another Yellow-legged Gull. 12-Nov-2011

TRIP - Rainham - 22/10/2011: Another excellent day with good weather conducive to taking a nice catch of large birds. The set was a bit tricky with a 360 digger slightly in the way of where we wanted to fire so re angling with the wind just in the wrong place was a bit of a worry. However, once the waste had been rolled flat lots of birds came down very quickly, too many in fact! We needed a lift and soon got one. Birds still wanted to feed and very soon about 200 birds were back in the catching area and before long a safe window allowed a catch to be taken. A good extract and lift with a fairly inexperienced team and we processed the birds away from the tip face. One surprise was half way through processing to pull out another Caspian Gull. Also in the end five Yellow-legs were sifted from the Herring Gulls. The final total was 211.22-Oct-2011

TRIP - Rainham - 15/10/2011: A calm clear morning looked promising, however birds did not seem that interested in feeding. A second load of waste attracted what was probably somewhere in the region of 500 large gulls into the catching area. Luckily there were real safety problems and I was unable to fire which was probably good for this small and inexperienced team. Baz and myself elected to put up a jiggler when all the birds lifted. It then took some time for them to get interested again but no matter! With birds walking in from the back of the catching area safety was good and we soon had enough birds in the area to take what I thought to be about 120. Clearly my estimation is legendary and the total ended up at 202 birds! Excellent work by Mark the compactor driver again he is now becoming more of an expert than us!15-Oct-2011

TRIP - Rainham - 27/08/2011: It is always interesting at this time of year and today was no exception. A small team arrived with the hope of something interesting at this time of year and we were not disappointed. Early on lots of Starlings looked like causing a problem until a Sparrowhawk spooked them all. With a good number of birds and almost certainly two Yellow-legged Gulls in the catching area I elected to fire. The catch was extracted, bagged and processed quickly and efficiently and we were pleased to find six Yellow-legs in the catch of 60 birds.27-Aug-2011

TRIP - Pitsea - 08/06/2011: Today we undertook a session at Pitsea specially for a filming session with Springwatch. The Springwatch team were looking at different types of wildlife that use landfill sites and wanted to film what the group does and talk about what the gulls using the site do. We were lucky enough to take a small catch of just enough birds to show the film crew a range of species and features for their filming. We were also amazed to find that there were around 30 Med Gulls on site and even more pleased when we managed to catch four in our small catch specifically for the film crew. This was a very interesting time to see what happens on the tip and has opened up lots of questions about where these birds are breeding and coming from at this time of year. It is likely that we will be considering some more attempts at Pitsea over the next couple of months to see if we can catch more Med Gulls.08-Jun-2011

Guernsey Trip 2011: 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 lead 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 more details 06-Jun-2011

TRIP - Rainham - 21/03/2011: With Luka from Croatia still in the UK an extra session on the Monday was planned with high hopes of increasing the numbers for the season. Best laid plans and all that!! The birds did not want to play. We suspect the warm weather ensured their minds were on things other than feeding! There was no real interest for three hours until a concerted effort from the compactor driver got a few birds in the catching area. With the weather warm and little else looking positive we took a very small token catch for something to do!! However out of the 26 birds we managed one Black-headed Gull from Latvia and a British control Lesser Black-backed Gull, not a bad ratio for such a small catch.21-Mar-2011

TRIP - Pitsea - 19/03/2011: A very good day with a slightly difficult start. Frosty conditions and a big team agian looked promising for a big total. However, a difficult set on the edge of the road and lots of disturbance meant we were not able to take a catch until 10:30. The sun had then got up and the temperature was too warm to enable us to set for a second time. We also had to process birds as fast as possible to stop any overheating problems, however all in all a successful day.19-Mar-2011

TRIP - Rainham - 12/03/2011: An extra trip was put in today with a small and inexperienced team. Conditions were good and the set we were given was today excellent. Two loads of good transfer waste were also supplied and within ten minutes of the compactor coming off the rubbish a catch had been taken. Extraction and processing was good and the day total was very pleasing with 33 LBB Gulls colour ringed. Other highlights were a Black-headed Gull which was re-ringed which on checking turned out to be one of our birds from 1984. This bird was ringed 27 years and 22 days ago! The UK longevity record is currently 27 years 10 months 17 days so we need to retrap this bird next year again!! A good day and many thanks to the tip staff once again for their excellent assistance.12-Mar-2011

TRIP - Pitsea - 05/03/2011: With the weather looking good and a large team assembled for Pitsea there were high hopes of a big day! However on arrival the waste coming into the site was clearly not the best. The set we were given was also not one of the best and to start with I was not happy that we would even take a catch. However, the compactor driver Alan helped us out and was actually fantastic in getting a little bit of food in front of the net which soon had a reasonable number of birds down. A very early opportunity presented itself and a respectable catch of 288 was taken. We decided to re-set and see what happened. After some further work by Alan, birds came back on to feed and there were three Mediterranean Gulls playing around the edge of the catching area. Eventually we got two in the catching area and elected to fire, managing to get both one being a Dutch control. Other highlights were a Danish Black-headed Gull and three of our own colour ringed Herring Gulls one of which had been to Gloucester and one to France. Overall a good day with a total of 409 and 82 large gulls colour ringed was a real success given the conditions of the tip and our set.05-Mar-2011

TRIP - Pitsea - 05/02/2011: The weather suggested that another "planned" trip would not happen. However, sometimes perseverance is the order of the day. On arrival at the tip the set location had a tiny bit of shelter (well sort of!). I decided to set and see what happened. We waited for some time before birds settled enough to enable a catch, we had also decided to be as selective as possible. Given there were a good number of Great Black-backed Gulls in the catching area it was worth an attempt. It turned out to be well worth the attempt with 44 new GBB caught and a very respectable total of 119 new birds, 3 retraps and a Norwegian control. Next planned trip will be Rainham on 19th February.05-Feb-2011

TRIP - Rainham - 29/01/2011: A small but experienced team undertook an extra session at Rainham due to the poor weather at the beginning of January. The set was quick and efficient and with no problems and a good load of waste we had a catch in the bag by 08:45am. It turned out to be a very good one of 404 new birds and 7 controls/retraps. Highlights were 2 Yellow-legged Gulls, 19 GBB and 39 LBB colour ringed plus 231 Herring Gulls ringed. Many thanks to all the team for a smooth and well executed day of large gulls and also to the tip staff and compactor drivers who once again did an excellent job.29-Jan-2011

TRIP - Pitsea - 22/01/2011: A tricky day with enough wind to keep birds hanging in the air making a catch difficult. Foxes also played havoc early on spooking birds several times. After some persistence and very helpful compactor drivers two catches were able to be taken with a grand total of 599 birds for the day including retraps and controls. Highlights were 23 new Great Black-backed Gulls and controls from Norway, Finland, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania and Germany. Thanks to all team members for a very smooth day and a good total for January.22-Jan-2011

TRIP - Rainham - 18/12/2010: A small team decided to make one last attempt at Rainham for 2010. There was a threat of snow but it was unclear when it would arrive. We decided to try to take a 150 catch with the small net. However, the rubbish was superb and the birds hungry. Very quickly we had well over 400 birds in the catching area. Luckily there was just too much air traffic and safety issues. Eventually a lorry in the main tip drew a few birds away and we were left with about 200 and when a safe window was available a catch was taken. The catch was extracted and processed very efficiently and the last Lesser Black-backed Gull was ringed as the first snow flakes fell. It was an interesting trip back round the M25!! Final total for the day was 231 which is excellent, with 103 birds colour ringed including 34 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.18-Dec-2010

TRIP - Rainham - 11/12/2010: At last we managed to get onto Rainham. A near perfect day with good weather an excellent setting position, good loads of waste dumped and excellent co operation from the tip staff. Mark the compactor driver did a fantastic job of getting birds down and two excellent catches were taken. The highlights being an adult Yellow-legged Gull and 56 Lesser Black-backed Gulls colour ringed. Thanks to all on the team and the tip staff.11-Dec-2010

TRIP - Pitsea - 20/11/2010: Well the ghost of Manton finally visited the tip! A flat battery on the truck at 06:30 did not bode well as a start. On arrival we were unfortunate again to be given a spot right on the edge of the tip and on the wrong side of the wind. Although the wind was light we were forced to set firing into the wind which always means we loose birds. However, the set was quick and efficient but on going to move the truck to the firing point another flat battery! Alan the compactor driver towed me to the firing point and I elected to attempt a catch before getting the truck started. After some tense moments we managed to take a first catch of 157 birds. We re-set and when nearly complete with the first catch it looked promising - apart from the fact we had not connected the last cannon! This turned out to be fortunate as when we were all set the second catch included a Mediterranean Gull. So the overall day total of 239 was very good given the circumstances!!20-Nov-2010

TRIP - Pitsea - 06/11/2010: Warm weather again meant lots of birds on fields and not that many on the tip. A difficult set we were forced to set firing into the wind and with the small net so our options were not good to start. Lots of safety issues prevented us firing when there were lots of birds in the catching area and in the end we had to settle for two small catches when there was a safe window. A respectable total of 210 for the day. However, the highlight was Steve Arlow photographing a possible adult Thayers Gull. We await other experts to look at this bird but what I saw of it on Steve's camera all the features looked very good.06-Nov-2010

TRIP - Pitsea - 30/10/2010: It turned out to be the correct decision to go to Pitsea. A really nice setting position right next to the commercial tip. The tip team again were very helpfull finding us the best lorry they could and keeping trying with the compactor to get birds down. The effort resulted in two good catches, the second one taken by Jez Blackburn as part of his training. 30-Oct-2010

TRIP - Pitsea - 25/09/2010: Weather conditions today were rather windy and I was not confident that it was going to be easy to take a catch. On arrival things got worse with our location being very restricted and next to the road the artics were using. We had one small load of household waste which was put in front of the small net we had set. For a couple of hours there were just no birds and we were getting concerned this was going to be our first blank. However, at about 10am birds appeared and three artics that dropped waste on the main tip seemed to get birds on the feed. After about half an hour we also had birds near our waste. Eventually they found the waste in front of the net. We had to wait a little while for birds to settle down as the wind was keeping them in the air a lot. The opportunity of the first clear window was taken and a respectable catch of 119 birds resulted.25-Sep-2010

Guernsey Trip 2010: The North Thames Gull Group undertook a trip to Guernsey in May 2010 to assist Paul Veron of La Société Guernesiaise with catching gulls on Chouet Landfill on the Northern end of Guernsey. Seven members of the group made the trip to assist with the operation over what was planned to be four days of intensive catching. Sadly, the weather prevented any catches on two of the days, but an excellent total of 1008 birds were caught in 6 catches on the other two days. Over 300 colour-ring sightings were also made. Thanks to Paul Veron for organising the trip and undertaking all the hard work to gain access to the tip and arrange a great team to work with. Read more details 14-Jun-2010

RE-SIGHTING NEWS: This week we received details of two of our birds re-sighted at sea. Andreas Buchheim was in the German Bight working on offshore windfarm planning when he was able to read the colour rings on a Lesser Black-backed Gull ringed at Rainham in September 2009 and a Great Black-backed Gull ringed at Pitsea in January 2010. 30-Apr-2010

TRIP - Pitsea - 27/03/2010: A day with few gulls on site, so clearly many had moved back out to their breeding grounds in the last few weeks. With the threat of showers we took a quick early catch of only Black-headed Gulls and re-set to see what the weather did. We were lucky enough for it to hold off and a small second catch was possible. A few Mediterranean Gulls were seen but none in the catching area. 27-Mar-2010

TRIP - Pitsea - 06/03/2010: A large team went to Pitsea today and we were lucky to get a really good load of waste from the first dustcart in. Birds were quickly down but the compactor driver running over the cable meant the spare cable had to be deployed. Luckily there was lots of food and an excellent catch of 449 birds was soon in the bag. We elected to re-set for a second attempt and after a couple of hours with a single Mediterranean Gull in the catching area we took a second catch. It was still early so we re-set for a third attempt but ended up with too many birds in the catching area so did not fire. The day total ended up at 722 new birds. Highlights were also a control Common Gull from Finland and a Black-headed Gull from Denmark.06-Mar-2010

TRIP - Pitsea - 20/02/2010: A day that started with the threat of rain and snow turned out fine and we were able to take two really nice catches. A large catch of small gulls first with a splattering of other gulls. The second catch was very respectable but the best thing was the groups second Caspian Gull. 20-Feb-2010

TRIP - Pitsea - 06/02/2010: Yet another tough day with problems before getting to the tip with the head gasket going on the Land Rover on Thursday! Alternative arrangements were made to get the kit to the tip and a session looked possible. The set was OK apart from the fact we had to run the cable accross the road with arctics and compactors running over it. We got the rubbish rolled at first break and we had taken a catch within ten minutes. This was a good catch of 300 plus birds and we should have been happy. However, we re-set and tried for a second catch - with at least one Mediterranean Gull in the catching area - but the firing cable had been damaged making it impossible to fire. All in all a good day.06-Feb-2010

TRIP - Pitsea - 23/01/2010: A tricky day with mild weather, fox and Starling problems making taking a catch very difficult. Excellent perseverance from the compactor drivers allowed us to take a catch of just over 100 birds. A quick re-set attracted birds including over 1000 Starlings, which we just could not fire on. However, 76 birds were colour ringed out of the catch and there was a Belgian control Herring Gull.23-Jan-2010

TRIP - Pitsea - 09/01/2010: A really good start to 2010 after a poor first half to the winter. The tip was full of birds and due to the cold conditions they were hungry. At first there were too many birds and safety was a problem. However, after about half an hour birds settled down and we were able to take a catch. We did not realise quite how big it was until we ran out of sacks with about 20 Herring Gulls still under the net. We ringed these birds direct from the net and took everything else off the tip and into the workshop to process. After processing we were really pleased with the number of big gulls in the catch.09-Jan-2010

RE-SIGHTING NEWS: From the two trips to Rainham in August and September we colour-ringed 127 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. As expected, some of these are now showing up in Iberia and this week we received a report of a bird seen in Morocco. This was one of 148 colour-ring sightings of this species obtained by Italian ringers Adriano Talamelli and Alessio Farioli on a two week trip to north Africa. They also managed an amazing 580 colour-ring readings of Audouins Gulls. View map 24-Dec-2009

TRIP - Pitsea - 12/12/2009: A very quick and efficient set by an experienced team saw us set by 8am adjacent to two loads of rubbish that had been dumped the previous day. Birds were quickly down when the compactor flattened the rubbish and after a couple of lifts a catch of mainly Black-headed Gulls was taken with a few large gulls and a couple of Common Gulls mixed in. Although we reset to attempt a second, catch birds did not come back onto our waste and showers eventually forced us to pack up without a second catch. 12-Dec-2009

TRIP - Pitsea - 21/11/2009: After cancelling last Saturday due to weather, we elected to attempt a catch today as weather forecasts are not looking good for the next month. With a quick early set we were in position by 8am. Lots of birds came down but were spooked and we then had a long wait. Eventually a dust cart came in and although there was not a lot of food waste, it had enough to attract the gulls and after some excellent persistence by the compactor driver we were able to take a good catch of 219 birds.21-Nov-2009

TRIP - Pitsea - 31/10/2009: A small team arrived to difficult looking weather conditions. Although not raining on arrival, rain looked possible but it was unclear just when it would arrive. We elected to set and see what happened. Birds came down quickly on the first push of rubbish but there were two chairs in the wrong place that would have snagged the net. Birds took a while to settle again and only through the persistence of the compactor driver were we able to get them back. Due to the threat of rain a small catch was taken and quickly got under cover to process. One Lithuanian Black-headed Gull was the highlight.31-Oct-2009

WEBSITE NEWS: New functionality has been added to this website to show a map of all the recovery and resighting locations of birds from each catch. Just click on the Ringing Date on any of the birds on the Recoveries page. With the permissions of the photographers, we are now also providing images of re-sightings. Individual photos are accessible from tne Recoveries page or the Map pages if the recovery date is clickable. The entire collection is available from the Gallery page. 23-Oct-2009

RE-SIGHTING NEWS: We have just received details of a colour-ring sighting of a Herring Gull from northern Russia, near Murmansk. The bird was ringed at Pitsea in January 2009 and re-sighted at the end of August. View map View photograph 23-Oct-2009

TRIP - Pitsea - 17/10/2009: A good day at Pitsea today. Lots of Herring Gulls and good numbers of Great Black-backs on the tip. Black-headed Gull numbers are starting to build up. One Mediterranean Gull was seen but there was nothing else unusual. With a good early set, birds were onto the rubbish quickly. After not wanting to settle to start with and the wind keeping birds in the air a chance opened up and a catch or mainly Herring Gulls was taken. The birds were dealt with efficiently and we were packing up by 12:30.17-Oct-2009

TRIP - Rainham - 12/09/2009: Again at Rainham, a small team set efficiently and birds were quickly down on the rubbish. Initial safety problems meant we had to wait about half an hour for a clear window to fire. However, when we did it was worth the wait with a record catch of 71 Lesser Black-backed and 8 Yellow-legged Gulls. 12-Sep-2009

TRIP - Rainham - 29/08/2009: Today saw us back at Rainham for the first time since January 2008. On arrival it was clear that the predominant species was Lesser Black-backed Gull. A small but experienced team set quickly and efficiently. After a long and frustrating wait we eventually had enough birds down and a respectable catch of 77 was taken. 29-Aug-2009

Guernsey Trip 2009: The North Thames Gull Group undertook a trip to Guernsey in June 2009 to assist Paul Veron of La Société Guernesiaise with catching gulls on Chouet Landfill on the Northern end of Guernsey. Six members of the group made the trip to assist with the operation over three days of intensive catching. Over the three days we took seven catches with a grand total of 744 birds caught. The Guernsey team were absolutely delighted with this result and the trip was declared a success. Thanks to Paul Veron for organising the trip and undertaking all the hard work to gain access to the tip and arrange a great team to work with. Read more details 08-Jun-2009

TRIP - Pitsea - 21/03/2009: Today saw another visit for training from Jez Blackburn and some of his team from Norfolk. Three catches were taken today with Jez taking two of the three. Highlights were a Med Gull in the second catch. Also seen on the tip were Iceland, Glaucous, Yellow-legged and Caspian Gull all just outside the catching area! The total of 549 (including retraps and controls) was good and takes the winter total to over 4000 gulls. 22-Mar-2009

TRIP - Rainham - 14/03/2009: A couple of the group undertook a field session to Rainham today to look for colour rings. It was a succesfull day with 10 confirmed colour ringed sightings. Two of our own birds from Pitsea, two from the Orfordness colony, three from Sussex (released birds), a Dutch bird, a CSL bird and a LBB Gull which is currently unknown. On top of this three blue rings with orange letters (almost certainly Gloucester birds) another Orford bird and one or two Orange ones evaded reading. A first winter Iceland Gull was seen on the tip and a 2nd Winter Glaucous Gull was seen on Aveley Marshes. Thanks to Pete Budd and Rainham for allowing access. 14-Mar-2009

TRIP - Pitsea - 07/03/2009: Still good numbers of gulls on the tip. With a very large team we elected for two catches. Aiming for 200 in each catch. Good numbers of Lessers were evident with 20 trapped including a Norwegian bird. The remainder of the Herring Gull colour rings were used for this winter on the first catch. A few colour ringed birds were sighted by Richard, Steve and Pete 08-Mar-2009

TRIP - Pitsea - 14/02/2009: Today was a tricky day. Birds at first did not want to come on to feed on the rubbish. Phil the compactor driver did a fantastic job and when we got birds it was in abundance. Foxes then became a problem for a while but eventualy a half chance presented itself and a catch was taken.15-Feb-2009

WEBSITE NEWS: This website has now been improved to show maps for all of our recoveries and controls. Just click on the ring numbers on the Recoveries and Controls pages to see where the bird was ringed and where it has been re-captured or re-sighted. 08-Feb-2009

TRIP - Pitsea - 24/01/2009: A chilly start with no wind looked perfect. Gulls at first did not want to come to feed. After about an hour birds became interested and a catch was taken with good numbers of Great Black-backed Gulls. A Glaucous Gull was seen near the catching area on a couple of occasions but evaded capture.25-Jan-2009

RE-SIGHTING NEWS: This season's colour ringed birds continue to be reported from France including, this week, a letter with details of 11 different birds seen in the Calais area in November and December. An amazing 14% of the Herring Gulls from the 10 October catch have already been re-sighted. 18-Jan-2009

TRIP - Pitsea - 10/01/2009: A very large team took two catches with a superb total of 587 birds from both catches, which included 9 Starlings. The small gulls were back in force apparently frozen out of thier normal sites after the prolonged cold spell. The highlight was a Polish ringed Med Gull and a retrap Black-headed Gull which was ringed nearly 17 years ago at Pitsea by Mr Harris.11-Jan-2009

TRIP - Pitsea - 27/12/2008: The tip was only open for the morning and with little domestic waste due to arrive, we were lucky to get a large load of mixed rubbish which was atttractive to the gulls. We managed a quick fire and just about got the catch processed in time.28-Dec-2008

TRIP - Pitsea - 20/12/2008: After a week of mild weather we were concerned that the gulls would not be hungry enough to come onto the waste in the catching area. The breezy conditions allowed a lot of birds to hang in the air and for those on the ground to get easily spooked - but they were hungry. With each lift-off birds returned quickly and increasing numbers of large gulls stayed in the catching area. The resulting fire included our largest ever catch of Great Black-backed Gulls.21-Dec-2008

TRIP - Pitsea - 29/11/2008: Hoping for quick fire with the threat of rain, we were intially frustrated by the proximity of the catching area to the main tip face, with birds streaming in over the net. Eventually things settled and we were able to take a small catch.30-Nov-2008

Re-sighting: Our first re-sighting of a colour-ringed Great Black-backed Gull has been reported from Dungeness. 24-Nov-2008

TRIP - Pitsea - 15/11/2008: The arrangement of the tip face made it difficult to select a location for the net, and when we did efforts were frustrated by operational traffic on the tip. Eventually a reasonable catch was possible, with good numbers of Great Black-backed Gulls once again.16-Nov-2008

TRIP - Pitsea - 01/11/2008: With rain forecast we elected for an early start. The gulls were clearly hungry and were soon onto the rubbish. After a frustrating 20 minutes with birds in danger, on and too close to the net, we were able to fire and took a catch of predominantly Herring Gulls. The rain started just as the pack-up was complete and the birds were ringed under cover off of the tip. 02-Nov-2008

TRIP - Pitsea - 11/10/2008: Armed with our new colour rings, we were fortunate to get a couple of loads of rubbish containing a lot of food and birds were quickly attracted into the catching area. Many larger gulls walked in from beyond the range of the net. What was initially thought to be just over a hundred birds turned out to be a massive catch of mostly Herring Gulls. 12-Oct-2008

TRIP - Pitsea - 13/09/2008: Uncertain what a September catch might bring we arrived to find most birds loafing on the fields to the north of the tip. What was initially though to be a small catch was taken but our new net deploys much faster and caught more birds on the edge of the catching area than expected. We reset for a second catch and after a long wait and some encouragement from the compactor driver stirring up the rubbish, we had around 600 birds in the catching area - too many to catch safely. Suddenly most of the smaller gulls lifted leaving the Great Black-backed Gulls on thr ground. We fired almost immediately for our second ever largest catch of this species. 14-Sep-2008

TRIP - Pitsea - 08/08/2008: An excursion to Pitsea was undertaken as part of the Rye Meads ringing course, to give delegates some experience of gull ringing and fitting larger ring sizes. A small catch was taken.09-Aug-2008

TRIP - Pitsea - 29/03/2008: Another quick and efficient set and rubbish with plenty of food waste brought the gull in quickly. We waited a little to increase the proportion of large gulls but took an early first catch. Attempts at a second catch were frustrated by vehicle movements on the tip and the proximity of the net to where driver were closing the rear doors on their lorries. With the possibility of rain a small second catch was taken. 30-Mar-2008

TRIP - Pitsea - 22/03/2008: Although it was raining with gusty winds on arrival at the tip, the forecast did predict a clearer spell in mid-morning, so we sat it out. When we could see the clearer weather arriving we set quickly and had several opportunities to fire, were it not for the Starlings all over the furled net. Eventually we were able to fire safely and removed the gulls to the relative comfort of the shed off of the tip. 23-Mar-2008

TRIP - Pitsea - 15/03/2008: Buoyed up by our success on 23rd February, we were keen to return to Pitsea, but the weather forecast was not good. The first load of rubbish contained very little food and birds were moving on quickly, with the larger gulls hardly stopping. Concerned that the weather might curtail operations, we took a small token catch of mainly Black-headed Gulls. But is was still early so we reset and did get a much better load of rubbish delivered. The birds still did not seem keen to settle and after a wait were able to take a modest second catch.16-Mar-2008

TRIP - Pitsea - 23/02/2008: This was our first attempt at Pitsea for over 10 years. It was an easy set but we couldn't understand why the birds didn't want seem to want to settle, until we realised that there was a fox in the catching area. Once chased off (no easy feat) birds came back in force and a sizeable catch followed quickly. We decided to reset, but were delayed from firing again until we had emptied enough sacks from the first catch. At this time up to three Mediterranean Gulls were in the catching area, but by the time we were able to fire only one remained and was successfully caught.24-Feb-2008

TRIP - Rainham - 05/01/2008: An early start meant setting the net in the half-light. Too any birds and problems with lorries stopping in the firing line were eventaully overcome and an early catch of large gulls was taken. After resetting it was difficult to get birds to settle in tha catching area, so the second catch was mainly of Black-headed Gulls.06-Jan-2008

TRIP - Rainham - 27/12/2007: With the tip having been closed over the Christmas break expectations were high that the gulls would be hungry and easy to catch. Once we had the rubbish in th right place a catch was taken relatively quickly. 28-Dec-2007

TRIP - Rainham - 15/12/2007: A difficult set right on the edge of the tip, but once ready the gulls came into the catching area very quickly and we soon took a first catch. For the second catch we wanted to wait for more large gulls and with the wind picking up birds were hanging in the air making it difficult to find a catching window. Eventually we did take a second catch that included a good number of Herring Gulls. 16-Dec-2007

TRIP - Rainham - 11/11/2007: A quick set with catching opportunities only thwarted by Starlings walking all over the net. The resulting catch included our first Caspian Gull.12-Nov-2007

TRIP - Rainham - 27/10/2007: Two modest catches with good numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls.28-Oct-2007

TRIP - Rainham - 31/03/2007: The first trip of the re-formed North Thames Gull Group, returning to Rainham for the first time since 2004. The catch was exclusively of large gulls our primary target.01-Apr-2007

TRIP - Westmill - 06/03/2004: A small catch, as we learn how best to utilise this site.07-Mar-2004

TRIP - Westmill - 12/02/2004: An initial catch at this new site in Hertfordshire.13-Feb-2004

Show recent news


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.

The Southern Colour Ringing Group Giant Cash Bonanza is a licensed Lottery supporting the group and the purchase of rings and satellite tracking devices for monitoring bird migration, behaviour and biology.

Website designed and built by Garganey Consulting

Highlighted Movements

Recent Photos


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.

We also acknowledge financial support from Merlin Ringing Supplies.