After the gull spectacle that was Noordwijk aan Zee over the last couple of weeks, it is back to the relative tranquility of the Black-headed Gull colony in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands, this weekend.
We’re in the final leg of the breeding season and it won’t be long before the first individuals will start leaving the colony and disperse over south-western Europe.
My previous visit to the colony was 11 days ago, and when I arrived today I noticed that a large group of juveniles had already fully fledged and taken up position on the smaller island next to the main colony. On this island with less vegetation, they mainly spend their time waiting for their parents to come and feed them. They will stay on that island until they are ready to leave the colony proper.
I really like seeing Black-headed Gulls of this age at this time of year: their plumage is one of the most beautiful of juvenile gulls with their light- to dark cinnamon colored scapulars. Unfortunately these will be replaced by light-gray adult looking feathers soon.
Many of these juveniles are wearing the rings that were fitted by Frank Majoor 2 weeks ago as part of a research in survivability among this species. In total, 171 birds were ringed: 100 with a metal ring only (right tarsus) and 71 birds with a combination of a metal ring (right tarsus) and white plastic ring with black inscription (left tarsus).
The following codes were used (16 June 2013, all juveniles):
Metal rings (for birds fitted with metal only):
Vogeltrekstation Arnhem 3733701 – 3733800.
E99E (ring fitted on right tarsus)
ECF0 – 9
ECH0 – 9
ECJ0 – 9
ECK0 – 9
ECL0 – 9 (ECL6 not used)
EKU2 – U4
EKN8 – 9
EKR0 – 9 (EKR1, EKR2 not used)
If you are a ring reader in Holland, France or even Spain, Portugal and Ireland: expect some of these rings to come your way over the next few months!
In the meantime we will enjoy them while they are here during the next few weeks, knowing that we won’t see them again until next year or most likely the year after.