Lewis James, a colleague in work, told me about a ringed Black-headed Gull he frequently sees on the handrail of the boardwalk that runs alongside the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. He grabbed a photograph of it one morning and managed to read the numbers and lettering: ‘2K64’ .
‘2K64’ turns out to have been ringed by John Wells as a nestling on 2nd June, 2008 as part of a study of Black-headed Gulls breeding in the Cotswold Water Park (CWP) on the Glos/Wilts border. It was next seen in Cardiff Bay in November 2010, at a landfill site at Bishops Cleeve, Glos in March 2011 and it returned to the Cotswold Water Park to breed in May 2012. It may be five and a half years old but it should have a few years left in it yet – the typical lifespan of a Black-headed Gull is 11 years.
John is a member of the Cotswold Water Park Ringing Group (CWPRG) who have been visiting breeding colonies of Black-headed Gulls at the CWP since 2004 to fit nestlings with a metal BTO ring and a Darvic ring. The purpose of this project is to monitor the birds’ movements and to study their return to the CWP to breed. A significant number have been sighted away from the CWP and thanks to the group’s efforts we now know that many of the CWP birds migrate South and West in winter to Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Spain. A few also stay in the CWP over winter and a large number of the adults breeding in the CWP were ringed there as nestlings.
You have to admire ringers. They’re a dedicated bunch, plying their trade week in, week out at highly unsociable hours, often with low returns and freezing cold fingers! They depend on the rest of us making the effort to report sightings of ringed and colour ringed birds. To report a ringed bird please visit the Euring web page where you’ll find a step by step guide of how to submit your sighting.
For a bit of recent local ringing interest I’d recommend a visit to the BTO’s Summary of Ringing Recoveries for Glamorgan 2012 and also to blogs written by Cardiff Bird Ringers and Gower Ringing Group. Citizen science in all its glory!