Dutch Black-headed Gull returns from Gran Canaria, Spain, to breeding colony in Holland

Almost exactly a year ago, on 28 May 2012, a young Black-headed Gull was caught in a gull colony near Zoetermeer, The Netherlands, and fitted with a white color ring engraved with a black code “E5YS”.

Amazingly, on December 6 2012 it was observed 3,100 kilometers to the south on the isle of Gran Canaria, Spain (see Dutch Black-headed Gull sighted in Gran Canaria, Spain).

Two months later on February 9, 2013 it was seen again, still at Gran Canaria.

Yesterday evening, June 7 2013, I observed it back in the breeding colony of Zoetermeer!

I made the observation together will fellow ring-reader Benny Middendorp and we were completely taken by surprise to see this individual here so soon.

It’s surprising because only few Black-headed Gulls in their second calendar year return to the place where they are born (most return in their third calendar year when they breed for the first time). To give you an idea: 134 young Black-headed Gulls were ringed in the colony in 2012 (of which 69 were fitted with a color ring) and so far this season we have seen only 10 ringed individuals or so back in the colony.

Unfortunately E5YS was too far away to take a photo of, but here’s one from the previous observation at Gran Canaria in February , taken by Xabier Remirez.

Second-calendar year Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) on the isle of Gran Canaria, Spain. 9 February 2013.

Second-calendar year Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) on the isle of Gran Canaria, Spain, with Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis) . 9 February 2013.

Hopefully E5YS will stay for a while so that we can enjoy its presence from up close and take some more photos. Or perhaps it will feel the need to leave the colony soon for another 3,000 kilometer trip south?

Watch this space…


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