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TRIP - Pitsea - 11/06/2016: A second session attempting for Med Gulls did unfortunately not deliver. Very few Med Gulls around probably not more than six. Two canon net catches taken by Aron with a total of 110 birds for the day which included six Rooks. A single Med Gull was trapped in a spring trap.11-Jun-2016


TRIP - Pitsea - 04/06/2016: Canon netting today was cancelled due to the threat of showers and difficulties with staff shortages on the tip. I decided to go and read some rings and see how many Med Gulls there were on the tip as this is the time of year they build up. On arrival two adult Med Gulls were the first birds I saw. I had also decided to take my large raptor spring trap and put some bread in it with a pull string just to see if anything went in whilst I was ring reading. After a slow start with mostly Herring Gulls on the tip a few more Med's started to turn up. Then amazingly one walked straight into the spring trap, a failed pull saw the bird beat the trap out. Very quickly a second one had done the same. I realised that the pull string was the problem and with a slight adjustment a French ringed bird was soon back in the catching area and a quick pull on the string saw it safely secured. Over the next hour and a half the turn over of Med's seemed quite high and four more were caught one more French bird and three new ones. A metal ringed Black-headed Gull was also trapped along with two new Black-headed Gulls. A very successful and unexpected morning and I think this method will be deployed again in the next couple of weeks. Apologies to all the team who I called off this weekend hopefully we can do the same or better next weekend.04-Jun-2016


TRIP - Pitsea - 02/04/2016: We don't normally go in April but with quite a lot of cancelled sessions and some interest in going one last time a small team assembled to see what was around. No gulls on the tip when we arrived and started to set but as lorries came in birds started to feed. We soon had a dust cart and shortly birds came onto the waste. As I was nervous about loosing birds or them going off the feed I took a fairly quick catch. This turned out to be very useful around 100 birds. We took the decision to take lots of biometrics and all Black-headed Gulls had wing and head a bill measurements taken which was great practice for people. We had set again and as we had finished the last few Black-heads as it was getting warm I asked Dave to get the compactor driver to give us another roll over. Birds came quickly back on the feed and I noticed that there were a good number of Lesser's in the catching area so I decided to take a catch as quickly as I could. This was a good decision and another 19 Lesser's were soon being extracted. All of these had biometrics taken and all birds except a few Herrings from the first catch were colour ringed. A great finish to the season and a really pleasing day with a good small team. Fantastic work once again by the tip staff and a great setting location went towards a successful day.02-Apr-2016


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Aims

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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Acknowledgements

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.