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

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

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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.