Hints to improve colour ring readings of Mediterranean Gulls
Preliminary remarksIt's of prime importance to report exact readings to the coordinators. Always report readings which are 100 % sure.
Observations in or close to breeding colonies have to be done with utmost care Mediterranean Gulls are very sensible to disturbance in the first stage of their settlement. Colour ring readings have ALWAYS to be performed respecting the bird.
Taking the following elements into consideration, you will obtain easier and better colour ring readings :
Prepare following items for your fieldwork :- a good telescope, preferably with a zoom 20-60x, strongly fitted to a stable tripod
- a note book with one or more blank colour ring reports (to be found on this website)
- a ballpoint pen (+ one spare) you can use different colours to differentiate the various sites you'll visit on the same day
- a big (fisherman) umbrella to protect your tripod and scope from wind (and rain), or to be used for the hide a canvas used on (Belgian beaches) is very effective too (but heavy don't forget your hammer !)
- a hide or camouflage net to put on your umbrella
- warm clothes
- a polystyrene mat to sit on, or a small seat
- authorisation and ID-card to enter the area (if applicable)
- a watch
site-knowledge in relation to the Mediterranean Gull is very important to increase ring reading efficiency :- during spring migration, Mediterranean Gulls are by far more numerous around potential breeding colonies and roosts before sunset
- Le Portel (Pas-de-Calais, France) gives better ring reading opportunities during spring low tides, as mud banks with worm populations are uncovered by the sea for a few days, providing excellent feeding grounds (i.e. +/- two days after new and full moon) use also bread to attract them on the dike
- observation sessions on beaches during weekends and holidays can be unproductive due to tourists and especially dogs
- bear in mind that the presence of water in between you and the gulls will increase the 'fly-away' distance.
- do NOT make sudden movements with your telescope and tripod (= hunter-like behaviour, gulls hate it) carry your tripod close to your body when approaching the Mediterranean Gulls
- Mediterranean Gulls are very mobile and numbers fluctuate rapidly on one place hence check regularly all known 'Med gull hotspots' in your area and communicate with your colleagues
- if possible, observe from your car as birds are not afraid from cars :
- 'prepare' your car (see below) far from the roost or the colony
- try to install your tripod IN your car, instead of using a 'window-clip' your scope will be less subject to vibrations
- cover your windows in front of you and behind you by using a piece of tissue/jacket attached in the door or in the window frame)
- orientate your car in order to be hidden from the wind
- shut down engine
- always try to observe the gulls from a height, with the sun in the back and well-sheltered from the wind by natural obstacles or an umbrella
- if possible, prepare your hide on a place where you cannot be seen by the gulls move to your observation place in your hide
- the more your body is not detached from the background, the best it is
- in windy conditions lower your telescope to the most acceptable level
- change regularly the angle of view to the roost/colony other birds/legs will appear
- during hot days, observe in the early morning and evening to avoid 'heat-waves'
- note down as many details as possible (see report) the more details, the more valuable is your sighting
- always double-check your readings
- once back home, clarify your notes and add some comments, as it's still all fresh in your memory send a short mail to potentially interested persons in your area agree on spreading the observation pressure in your area (for Belgium : contact Renaud Flamant).
Remarks to improve this text is welcome at Renaud.Flamant@skynet.be