Lesser Black-backed Gulls feed on potato crisps in Moeskroen

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Species: Lesser Black-backed Gull

Project: Habitat use of Lesser Black-backed Gulls from Zeebrugge

A first analysis of the data collected from 22 UvA-BiTS GPS-tagged Lesser Black-backed Gulls breeding in the port of Zeebrugge, Belgium revealed that many feeding trips were directed towards the south of the colony (see map below) where the gulls feed in agricultural fields, cities and at landfills. Much to our surprise about one-third of the feeding trips ended about 65 km from the colony in the industrialised part of Moeskroen. Some individuals made several trips per day to Moeskroen. When one of our co-workers went to Moeskroen to investigate what might be attracting the birds it soon became clear that they were gathering at a factory that produces potato crisps. The gulls were feeding on crisps and other potato products that were declared unfit for human consumption and were being dumped in containers. Apparently Belgian gulls love fried potatoes!

Map showing tracks of a tagged Lesser Black-backed Gull that shows strong use of the terrestrial areas south of the breeding site. (Data from http://lifewatch.inbo.be/blog/posts/tracking-eric.html.)

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