Common Gulls in The UK
The Galloway Common Gull Study aims to investigate the breeding biology and migratory behaviour of this stunning and charismatic bird. The Common gull larus canus, also referred to as Mew gull, is amber listed with JNCC's Birds of Conservation Concern which means that they are prioirity species for both conservation and research to discover why they are facing harder times.
The UK holds approximately 10% of the world's population of breeding Common Gull. As Common Gulls do not breed until 3 years old, little is known of the movements of sub-adults within the 3 years before they begin to breed. This study aims to answer that question by using individually coded colour rings to track the movements of both the adults and young from the breeding colonies. As the breeding biology of the Common Gull is understudied in the UK, by carrying out this study, we may learn new previously undiscovered information about the behaviour of this often overlooked species.
Many adults and a significant number of chicks are metal ringed in the UK every year but as metal ringing provides relatively little return in comparison to colour ringing, little has been discovered about the differences between adult and juvenile dispersal of Common Gulls away from the breeding colony.
Through BTO recoveries of birds ringed both within the UK and in the rest of Europe we know that Common Gulls regularly migrate between the UK and Scandinavia but most of these birds are likely to be ringed as adults. A similar project to this, run in the North-East of Scotland, recently had a Common Gull, ringed as a chick, recovered in Spain which is only the UK's second record for this species despite (at the time) 94,916 Common Gulls being ringed in the UK - See Here.
It is clear that more work is needed in order to understand the movements of juveniles up until the age of which they begin to breed, and indeed to discover where these juveniles end up choosing to breed whether it be in their natal colony that they were born in or somewhere further afield.
To find out more about the breeding biology and dispersal of the Common Gull this study will monitor a number of breeding colonies within Galloway. At the main two study sites a sample number of nests will be regularly monitored for the BTO's Nest Record Scheme and adults at these sites will also be caught and colour marked. Colour marking allows individual birds to be tracked in the field without the need to recapture them.
At all of the sites two visits will be made during the latter part of the breeding season to ring the chicks and colour mark as many as possible. Only chicks big enough to safely hold a colour mark will have the marks added. Due to the cost of colour ringing this fundraising page is vital in allowing the study to colour mark as many birds as possible as the higher the number of birds marked the greater quality of information yielded from future observations.
In order to track the bird's movements the study shall rely upon a number of different sources from observations from members of the study group initially to then reaching out to the public and birders and ringers alike for their sightings. It is vital that through advertisement on social media and the likes that people are made aware of the project so that they know to keep a look out for our marked birds and also where they can direct their sightings. All sightings for this project can be sent to: crbirds'@'hotmail.com. Upon receiving such sightings a member of the study team shall reply back to the observer with a full life history of the bird. The study is very grateful for any observation or sighting sent in.
This study should provide some very interesting data which will be shared on the project's blog and in annual reports. Regular updates can be found on the blog gilliandinsmore.blogspot.com and on twitter - @WildlifeG & @CR_Birds
Why Do We Need Funding?
I have set the minimum funding target to £500 as this will ensure that the study will be able to afford enough colour rings and metal rings for the first year along with some of the equipment needed to catch the adults. Any extra funding would be fantastic as it would greatly improve the study.
Due to the cost of colour ringing in addition to metal ringing, the main part of this fundraiser is to pay for rings as to metal and colour ring each bird costs approximately 71p each and as the study hopes to colour ring in the region of 350 birds per year this shall cost upwards of £248. As well as colour ringing, any chicks too small to hold the colour ring will be metal ringed only - estimates to metal ring a further 200 chicks would cost around £42.
The study needs equipment to catch the breeding adults and this costs approximately £150 to make. It also requires equipment to ring and take biometrics of the birds, costing around £50. As many of the breeding colonies are in very remote locations travel costs are substantial - a visit to the remote colonies costs around £15 a trip, averaging approximately 4/5 trips a year.
It would be very beneficial to the project to be able to purchase a camera to be able photograph the nests, eggs, colour ringed birds and to document the study as currently we only have the use of a mobile phone - this would cost around £240. An added benefit of this would be a aid in reading metal rings due to the optical zoom on the camera.
Kickstarter charge a fee ( 5% plus 3-5% per donation for payment processing) which will equate to between £50 - £60 for this study so any additional money raised would be great to help absorb this and to allow as much of the funding to go to the project as possible.
We have a range of exciting rewards on offer for backers including some beautiful artwork by Katie Fuller, project mugs and keyrings and designer cushions by Bear & Roo!
Any money donated to the study is gratefully received and without such support this study could not continue.
Thank you for looking and any questions about the study are very welcome.
Risks and challenges
The main challenge to the study is funding, because without this only a very small number of birds can be colour marked and there would not be enough funds to purchase the equipment needed to catch the breeding adults which is vital in order to compare the movements between the adults and the juveniles.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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