Gull Ringing on the Rock

Bird ringing is an important part of the monitoring of the movements of our birdlife.

Each year, with the help of the Cardiff Bird Ringers, 100 of the Lesser Black-backed gull chicks are ringed.

The birds are not harmed in any way by the placing of an identity ring on the legs of the young birds.   We know that the Lesser Black-backed gulls from the island go on to places like Morocco Southern Spain and Portugal for the winter.  Many of them return to the island in March each year. By monitoring their movements like this gives the BTO, who monitor the gulls, information on the effects of changes in the environment.

The bird ringers are all very aware of the effects of their handling of the young birds.  The chicks seemed to become quite calm when being handled and were returned to their nest sites without harm. The rings are all attached in such a way as not to impede their natural needs and lives.

Peter Samson.

Gull Ringing on the Rock – Part 2

This year society members Linda, Peter and Jo travelled out to the island with the Cardiff Ringers and Warden, Matt Lipton, on a glorious July morning. Sadly the Lewis Alexander was out of action but on the plus side we travelled very quickly across the very calm channel by rib. We were met on the jetty by Assistant Warden, Ross Clifford, and Volunteer’s Jamie and Sarah.

Important things first we started our task in hand with a brew in the Farmhouse while we worked out a plan of action for the task ahead. We split into two groups and got kitted out in overalls and hard hats. Each group took a section of the Gull colony and fifty BTO and Darvic Plastic rings. The BTO rings are made from metal and the Darvic rings are numbered plastic rings which can be read in the field, Ringing aims to increase understanding about what is happening to birds in the places they live and how this affects population increases and decreases, this knowledge is vital for conservation. It also gives information on the movements individual birds make and how long many live for.

We then spent the next few hours being mobbed by the adult gulls who are, understandably, very protective of their chicks. Getting mobbed by a gull colony is quite an experience and it soon becomes very clear why the overalls and hard hats are needed as the adults, swoop, dive bomb and poop all over you!

Catching the chicks can be quite difficult as they tend to make straight for the undergrowth which on the island consists mainly of nettles and brambles. Once caught the chicks are taken to the licensed ringers for the rings to be fitted around their legs. The chicks are then returned to the nest site

The day ended with a super fast and somewhat choppy and wet ride back to Cardiff on the rib – amazing fun!

If you are interested in taking part in future conservation work on the island please use our Contact Us form.

Jo Morgan


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