Texel gulls back from wintering areas

Species: Lesser Black-backed Gull

Project: Multi-scale movements of gulls from Texel

Spring has clearly begun in the Netherlands and with the onset of spring the Lesser Black-backed Gulls are starting to return to the Kelderhuispolder colony from their wintering areas. As of mid-April 2011, 7 of the 15 birds tagged during the breeding season in 2010 have returned to their colony and all the data stored on the tags (measurements every 10-30 minutes, during the day and at night) between July 2010 and April 2011 were downloaded within a few days after their return. The gulls had visited the UK, Belgium, France, Portugal and Spain and show a diverse array of migration strategies, traveling during the day as well as at night, migrating over water, land, and following coastlines.




Autumn 2010 and spring 2011 migration routes of six Lesser Black-backed Gulls from the Kelderhuispolder breeding colony on Texel, The Netherlands.

Following are a few brief highlights from the diverse migratory movements of these birds. On March 10, 2011 female FAKJ (device 329) started to cross the Bay of Biscay (> 400km) at 20:30 UTC, but stopped flying and spent the night resting on the surface of the water. At 6:30, March 11, 2011, the bird resumed migration and flew at altitudes above 1000 m (at some point the bird even climbed to an altitude of 2 km) and flight speeds ranged between 30 – 75 km/hr. The bird reached the Ile de Oleron, France at 12:30 just in time for a short 2 hour siesta and continued further north until 18:00 when she once again spent the night on the water drifting with the current, starting the next day of migration at 6:00. This bird spent most of her winter in Spain. In contrast female FAKU (device 327) spent the winter in the UK, and although she took her time crossing the North Sea to reach the UK, she returned to the Netherlands, crossing the North Sea in less than two hours at top speeds of over 130 km/hr.

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