Thursday, 10 September 2015


Treble figure numbers in Ceredigion are now taken for granted and it must be about the best County in Britain for seeing such numbers on a regular basis.
I thought it would be interesting to investigate their history in Ceredigion via our County Bird Reports.
The first Med. Gull to be seen was as recently as 1980 and the following decade had just a few annual records, mainly in single figures.
That continued throughout the 1990s with Hywel remarking in the '93 Report that they were "mainly a wintering bird now". By '99 he noted there were more summer sightings, but still of very small numbers. eg the max. in August was 4 and 13 max in October.
In 2000 there were "higher numbers at Llanrhystud and Aberaeron than in the past" and in '02, they were "now a regular visitor almost throughout the year, except May and June".
'04 saw a noticeable influx for the first time of juvs. between July and September. (Juv. Med Gulls were not included in my early bird books.) The second half of the decade saw numbers increase with approx. 48 in August '05, 72 in October '06, 50 in August 08 and in '09 "the peak count being an amazing 96 in August" between Llanrhystud and Llanon.
Bumper numbers began in 2010 with  "a staggering 270" in August at the coast there, followed by 304 in August '11, 350 in August '12, 429 there and 146 at Aberystwyth in August '13.
This August 500+ were at the coast and nearly 400 at Aberystwyth.
Most of these birds appear to be on their way from breeding colonies on the near Continent to wintering grounds in Spain and Portugal and so their flight north-west to us before moving south is rather interesting.
Early summer adult arrivals in Ceredigion do look rather striking:
August tends to be the peak month for sightings and only a few winter in Ceredigion. Green ringed 31Y was one of my favourites. It was a regular on Borth beach near the toilet block by the station, having spent the breeding season near Antwerp.
Several colour-ringed Med. Gulls were seen at Aberystwyth last month, all bar one by Chris Bird, gull ring-reader extraordinaire. All were ringed prior to fledging:
WHITE 39V7 tells a typically interesting story. Ringed in August 2008 just west of Antwerp in Belgium, by October it was near Lisbon, Portugal and has subsequently been seen on migration in France and back near Lisbon at breeding times. It was also seen at Llanon in August '10, Aberystwyth in August '12, Llansantffraed in June '14  and Aberystwyth in August '15.
GREEN RR37 was ringed in June 2014 just to the south of St Nazaire in NW France and seen nearby at Le Conquet in November '14 and February '15  and at Aberystwyth in August '15.
GREEN RU93 was ringed at the same site and on the same day as Green RR37 and next seen at Abersytwyth in August '15.
GREEN ANZT was ringed just west of Arnham in SW Netherlands in June 2013 and seen near Gent, Belgium in April '15 and at Aberystwyth in August '15.
GREEN RX02 was ringed just to the south of Paris in June 2014 and was at the coast near Cadiz, SW Spain in December '14 and on the French Brittany coast in April '15, inland nearby in May '15 and in Aberystwyth in August '15.