TRIP - Pitsea - 03/12/2016: A small and inexperienced team assembled knowing these sessions are now difficult. The small team went one down due to a no show and then another team member had to go for a small emergency so we were then reduced to a team of 9. Due to this I needed to reduce the catch as one of the size of the last one would not be able to be coped with by a small team. We did this by placing the waste a little further from the net to reduce numbers. The first dust card did not seem to have much food and no birds showed any interest. A second dust cart seemed much more attractive and and soon a good number of birds were down. We allowed a couple of lifts and my intention was to take a reasonably quick catch for more Black Heads rather than to wait for the large gulls - after a short while an opportunity came up and a catch was taken which turned out to be 249 birds. There was one control Black-headed Gull from Finland and one from Lithuania. A single UK control Herring Gull was the only other bird that was not new or a NTGG bird. A good extraction and very smooth processing, although a little slow with the small team went very well and thanks to all team members for their efforts. Many thanks to the tip staff who once again were superb in their efforts to get us birds.03-Dec-2016

TRIP - Pitsea - 19/11/2016: Another interesting day. Again all or nothing. A third dust card had food in and we got all the gulls in the catching area! One lift looked like we were going to loose some birds but most of them came back and Aron took the first available catch resulting in 419 mostly large gulls. I single Belgium control and a number of our own retraps. Thanks to the tip team for their support and getting us the dust cart with food on.19-Nov-2016

TRIP - Pitsea - 15/10/2016: Well that was interesting!! We have arrived at a point we have expected for some time. Only five vehicles came into the tip today and there was a real lack of food available. With the tide out there were not many birds on the tip to start with. However, I made a rash comment earlier on - we will either get none or all of them! Just gone ten o'clock a second dust cart came in and it was clear when it dropped in front of the net it had a lot of food in it with birds straight down. After a few safety issues a window presented itself and a catch was taken. Final total was 418 birds mostly large gulls. This is certainly our largest single large gull catch. 27 GBB's was a good total and considering how few LBB'S on the tip catching 3 was good. One bird was put down as a hybrid which we initially ringed as a LBB, however on reflection I think this bird had some Herring Gull in it's ancestry. Controls were interesting with a Herring Gull from Stevanger Norway, one from Holland and one from Belgium. Well done to the small team and a huge thanks to the tip staff who worked fantastically to get birds into the catching area.15-Oct-2016

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The aim of The North Thames Gull Group is to study the gulls making use of the landfill tips on the Essex coast of the Thames estuary, east of London.

We do this by catching the birds feeding on the waste using a cannon net, a technique requiring a special licence. The first step is setting the net.

Once captured, the birds are extracted from the net before being marked with individually numbered metal leg rings.

Whilst ringing the birds, we take measurements and study plumage characteristics. A sample are given orange colour rings which can be read with a telescope without the bird being recaptured.

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The group operates with the excellent support and cooperation of Veolia Environmental Services which operates the domestic landfill sites and Pitsea and Rainham.

We are grateful to the Banbury Ornithological Society, the Essex Birdwatching Society and GlaxoSmithKline for providing funding for the colour ringing programme, and to Risto Juvaste for supplying the rings.

As a corporate member, Bird Brain UK Ltd also supports our work.