Where do the gulls winter? – Mark Newell guest blogs

Where would you rather spend the winter, Gloucestershire or the Costa del Sol?  Well Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the Isle of May winter in both areas and probably various places in between.  Unlike Herring Gull and Great Black-backed Gulls which can be seen year round on the isle, Lesser Black-backs head for slightly warmer climes.  A few remain in Scotland but ringing reports have shown the majority head for southern England and South-west Europe.
Over the years we have sighted several Lesser Black-backed Gulls with engraved coloured rings which are easy to read with binoculars or a telescope and most were originally ringed in the south west of England.  The first Lesser Black-backed seen on the May this year appeared early on 19th February and sported a colour ring.  This proved to have been ringed in Gloucestershire in February 2007 and has been seen there every winter since, however, this was the first time that we had seen Blue AJE on the island, no doubt previously being lost amidst the other 4500 LBBG’s.
Just over a week ago a LBBG was seen amongst the gulls starting to nest near the South Horn displaying a white ring N07U.  Suspecting a more southerly origin ringers in Spain were contacted and the reply has just arrived to say that it was ringed in Malaga, Southern Spain on 18th December 2012 and was still present on 1st February.  It will be interesting to hear if it is seen again in the autumn on its southerly migration and which route it choses.  A previous Spanish ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull on the Isle of May took a route via the Netherlands one autumn and via Gloucester another, but chose not to loiter there too long.
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