Multi-scale movements of gulls from Texel

Species: Lesser Black-backed Gull

Breeding colony

Since 2008, we have been tracking adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus fuscus) breeding in the Kelderhuispolder on Texel, a Wadden Island in the Netherlands (53°00’N, 04°43’E).  Within the area, approximately 11,500 pairs of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and approximately 5000 pairs of Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) are breeding.  The breeding ecology in this colony has been studied since 2006.  Previous work in this colony has revealed that birds rely on a variety of food resources during the breeding season including marine prey, fishery discards, marine mammals, terrestrial mammals, arthropods and refuse.

Loggerbird in flight

The aim of this study is to quantify the foraging movements, time budgets and habitat preferences of these birds. Using this information we can conduct comparative analysis of these aspects between individuals, years, genders, breeding phases and migration.  We also aim to study the energetic cost of foraging movements by incorporating information on flight strategy selection. In the future we may be able to link these characteristics to life history traits and fitness.




The movements of 15 gulls during the month of June, 2010.

Preliminary results have revealed that foraging trips last several hours on average but may even last over 36 hours.  Birds leave the colony at all times of the day and night.  Individuals vary in their foraging area preferences and foraging habitats include the North Sea (SW of Texel), deeper parts of the Wadden Sea, coastal areas and the mainland. Birds that spend most of their time foraging in the North Sea, often rest at sea floating with tidal currents. These resting bouts may sometimes last up to 6 hours. Due to the accuracy of the measurements and the high temporal resolution (measurements every 10 minutes to every 3 seconds), individuals are occasionally observed foraging in the same agricultural fields at the same time. These individuals all migrate in the winter, and can move around quite a bit between diverse stopovers, with their furthest winter destinations (per individual) in the UK, France, Spain, Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau.  At times, we hear about their distant whereabouts via avid color ring readers, before they return the colony. This study is running in parallel to a herring gull tracking study in the same colony.

In the breeding season of 2021 the following birds can be followed via the interactive maps both logger number and color ring code are provided as well as the year the bird was tagged:

2012: 757 FARA (in UK)
2016: 5416 MBAD
2017: 5473 MASF    5588 MBBC    5593 FBBU
2018: 5594 MBBP    5599 MBBX    5601 FBCK    5603 MBBU    5687 MBBS    5693 MBBL    5694 MBBN
2019: 5697 MBCU    5698 MBCV    5699 MBCW    5700 MBCW    5702 FBDV    5704 FBDZ   5705 MBDN

2020: 5592 MBFN   5593 MBFP   5597 MBFV   5995 MBFR   5996 MBFU   5998 MBFX   5999 MBDC

2021: 7045 FBHW   7046 FBHX   7047 MBJF   7048 FBHZ   7050 MBJH   7055 MBJJ   7056 MBJK   7058 FBJA   7059 FBJB   7063 MBJL


Related publications:

Shamoun-Baranes J, Burant JB, van Loon EE, Bouten W, Camphuysen CJ, 2017. Short distance migrants travel as far as long distance migrants in lesser black-backed gulls Larus fuscus. Journal of Avian Biology 48:49-57. doi: 10.1111/jav.01229.

Shamoun-Baranes J, Bouten W, van Loon EE, Meijer C, Camphuysen CJ, 2016. Flap or soar? How a flight generalist responds to its aerial environment. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 371. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0395.

Camphuysen CJ, Shamoun-Baranes J, van Loon EE, Bouten W. 2015 Sexually distinct foraging strategies in an omnivorous seabird. Marine Biology:1-12. doi:10.1007/s00227-015-2678-9

Tyson C, Shamoun-Baranes J, Van Loon EE, Camphuysen K, Hintzen NT.  2015 Individual specialization on fishery discards by lesser black-backed gulls (Larus fuscus). ICES Journal of Marine Science. doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsv021

Camphuysen CJ., Shamoun-Baranes J., Bouten W., Garthe S. 2012 Identifying ecologically important marine areas for seabirds using behavioural information in combination with distribution patterns. Biological Conservation 156, 22-29. (doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2011.12.024).

Shamoun-Baranes J, Bouten W, Camphuysen CJ, Baaij E. 2011. Riding the tide: intriguing observations of gulls resting at sea during breeding. Ibis 153: 411-415.

Shamoun-Baranes J, van Loon EE, Purves RS, Speckmann B, Weiskopf D, Camphuysen CJ. 2011. Analysis and visualization of animal movement. Biology Letters doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0764

Camphuysen CJ, de Boer P, Bouten W, Gronert A, Shamoun-Baranes J. 2010. Mammalian prey in Laridae: increased predation pressure on mammal populations expected. Lutra 53:5 – 20

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Near real-time tracking data (last 3 days of data available per individual bird)
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Contact Persons:

Kees Camphuysen, NIOZ; Judy Shamoun-Baranes, IBED-UvA


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