Friday, 26 June 2009

Gulls at Seton

Since moving to East Lothian in 2004 I've had an interest in the local gulls. My nearest roost is in Gosford Bay off Seton Sands. The roost is usually gathered on the sea off the Seton Burn, or at pre-roost by the burn on Seton Sands, map).

I began approximately weekly visits in winter 05-06, concentrating mainly on getting a general idea of the composition of the roost, finding that this was highly variable, see linked doc (Seton gulls roost study, East Lothian, 2005).

In the 06-07 winter I made more effort to locate Mediterranean Gulls in the roost, finding up to 5 birds together (13/11/06), and a minimum of 9 different individuals in both the first and second halves of the "autumn", with an unknown overlap.

One regular bird, shown here, is the red colour-ringed 7P8, now known locally as "Cherry Blossom", which was ringed as an adult on 14 May 2004 by the Vistula at Zwirownia, Skoki Duze, west of Warsaw, Poland (52 36N 19 24E), distance 1505km, direction WNW; first seen (at least with its ring on!) in our area on 7 August 2004. A summary of the resightings is available on Johan Bos's page on colour-ringed Mediterranean Gulls in Scotland.

Nearby Port Seton used to be a regular haunt for white-winged gulls in days gone by, including a long-staying Glaucous Gull in the 1980's. But these are very hard to find now, and I've only seen a single each of Glaucous and Iceland in recent years, plus another distant bird which was likely the latter species.

A returning Lesser Blackback, christened Lucy, depicted below, has now spent 6 winters accompanying the other large gulls in the harbour - a little unusual for immatures of this species which typically winter further south than adults. No adult Lesser Blackbacks overwinter on this stretch of coast, though they can be found on the other side of Edinburgh, roosting at Barnbougle Bay.