25 Jul 2022

Shotton Steelworks - Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls.

 A friend of mine recently arranged for me to get invited to the Tata steelworks at Shotton to help ring Common Tern and Black-headed Gull chicks with the Merseyside ringing Group. I've helped out at this site once before but many years ago. See here.

The colonies are on two big rafts divided into separate compartments and the idea was to ring and add individual darvic rings to as many Black-headed Gull chicks as we could and also ring any Common Tern chicks we found that hadn't been ringed  on a previous visit.

Tern rafts
Chicks were collected in each compartment and kept safe in palstic boxes allowing the ringers to ring all the birds together and minimising disturbance to the colony as we didn't then have to keep catching birds only to find they'd already been ringed! 

Black-headed Gull chicks

Only the largest chicks were fitted with individually numbered darvic rings as they'd have dropped off the tarsi of the smaller chocks. All the smaller chicks were ringed with a BTO metal ring only. 

Fitting darvic rings like this enables the birds to be identified in the field more easily and hopefully these youngsters will be seen again once they've left the natal site. 

Some birds were still on eggs and a number of them had just started hatching.
Black-headed Gull hatching

Black-headed Gull clutch
The terns were at a similar stage with many birds having already fledged and some birds still on eggs whilst others were just hatching - including this one that hatched as we watched! 

The one below was to small to ring and still has its egg tooth at the tip of the bill

A busy day with fantastic weather  - a total of 248 Black-headed Gulls were ringed, with 175 being fitted with darvics, and a further 75 Common Tern chicks ringed.

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