Dutch Black-headed Gull returns to Ireland for second winter

This week I received a report from Dublin, Ireland that Black-headed Gull White E5VA has returned for a second time in a row to spend the winter there.

E5VA was ringed as a nestling by Frank Majoor in June 2011 in the colony of Zoetermeer, The Netherlands, where I observed it several times. The last time was on 2 July, which turned out to be the last time it was observed in The Netherlands that year.

Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) White E5VA as a first-calendar year. Gull colony Zoetermeer, The Netherlands, 2 July 2011

The colony where it was born is being used as part of a project to track the survival rate of Black-headed Gulls, and is a colony that I visit often during the breading season.

The place that E5VA has picked to spend the winter is Sean Walsh Park in Dublin, where it was first observed in January 2012 by Graham Prole.

It is relatively rare for our birds to migrate this far west for the winter; they commonly travel in a south-westerly direction to the UK, France, Spain, and Portugal.

E5VA was observed regularly in Dublin during January and February 2012, and was last seen on February 23.

I then observed it myself back in the breeding colony on April 30.

Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) White E5VA as a second-calendar year. Gull colony Zoetermeer, The Netherlands, 30 April 2012.

The last time it was seen in The Netherlands was in August, and was not seen again until Graham’s recent observation in Dublin on October 22.

Graham kindly made the following photos available for me to post:

Black-headed Gull White E5VA as a second-calendar year in Dublin, Ireland. October 2012. Copyright Graham Prole.

Black-headed Gull White E5VA as a second-calendar year in Dublin, Ireland. October 2012. Copyright Graham Prole.

It’s nice to see E5VA in full winter plumage; in the period that we see our gulls over here, they are either moulting to or in full breeding plumage or just moulting to non-breeding plumage.

I’m sure that E5VA will enjoy his stay in Ireland and hope to see him/her back next year for its first breeding season!

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