During our gull ring reading trip to Morocco earlier this month, I was very eager to see Lesser Black-backed Gulls from the IJmuiden Forteiland colony, a project that I am personally involved in.
I was not to be disappointed: in total we discovered 7 individuals. It also turned out that for seeing certain IJmuiden rings, you have to travel to Morocco…
Four of the seven observed gulls came close enough to take photos of which I will show here.
Our first encounter with an IJmuiden-bird was on our first day, at the fish factory at Anza, just north of Agadir. Most excitingly, this was a second-calendar year bird which we ringed in July 2016. After the breeding season I actually observed it twice in the Netherlands.
It is amazing to think that it has flown all the way south to Morocco and that I was able to observe it at this location on 5 different days.
Green YCFH in July 2016 when it was ringed:
Green YCFH in full juvenile plumage at the beach of IJmuiden, August 2016:
When we arrived at the fish factory at Safi, Green YBDB was the very first ringed gull that we discovered. It was part of a feeding frenzy a little distance away and standing in the water meaning that the ring could not be read.
Fortunately, it later briefly flew past us so that we could take some photos from which we could read the ring.
YBDB is actually a mysterious bird because it is hardly ever seen. After it was ringed as an adult in 2012 in the colony, it was only observed 2 more times there. After that it was reported once in October 2012 from Portugal and in 2015 it was seen at Anza, Morocco. It was great therefore to discover it again in Morocco!
When scanning a group of Audouin’s Gulls (many of which were ringed) at a salt pan somewhere between Safi and Oualidia, one Lesser Black-backed Gull could be seen standing at the far end. Not only that, but it was also ringed. And even better: it was a ring from IJmuiden (what are the odds?). However, it was standing in the water and only the first part of the code on the ring could be read. Fortunately it started preening during which it stretched its leg. This allowed us to take some photos and read the ring. A little later it was cooperative enough to stand on one of the rocks so that we could take a proper photo.
Now in its fifth calendar year, it is only my second observation of YBMF. It would be great if it would return to the colony again in a few months.
We saw this second-calendar year at the intertidal zone at El Jadida. This one too was ringed in 2016 before it could fly and it was great seeing it in such good condition so far away from its birth place.
YCCX when it was ringed in July 2016: