A long way from home

Species: Lesser Black-backed Gull

Project: Multi-scale movements of gulls from Texel

In May 2011 we tagged 9 adult lesser black backed gulls from the Kelderhuispolder colony on Texel.  In the last few weeks a male gull (color ring MAPN, logger 541) has made several unusually long trips, travelling far and spending several days at sea away from the colony.  The most spectacular trip was a trip through the English Channel, travelling more than 500 km from the colony. The bird left on 4 June 2011 at 17:00 while incubating a 3-egg clutch and returned on 8 June at 10:00, spending most of the time at sea. A first hatched chick was found in the colony on 9 June, but hatching of that egg must have been in full progress on 7-8 June while the bird was away. It spent the first 68 hours at sea, then spent a few hours on the coast of France near Le Havre. Afterwards the bird flew back to Texel, skirting the North Sea coast at times.  An example of trip closer to home is on 19 June 2011; the bird left the colony at 7:11 and flew out to the North Sea and returned on 22 June at 5:40.  The bird travelled out to sea more than 120 km from the colony. On three occasions during this trip the bird spent more than 5 hours resting on the surface of water.

The nesting attempt, meanwhile, was unsuccessful. While the first egg hatched during the first exceptionally long trip, one other egg hatched, but this chick disappeared quickly. The first chick starved to death and was retrieved from the nest 15 June. No activity was observed at the nest site since, although the bird still returns quite regularly to the colony.

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