We saw a lot of Great black-backed gulls during our long weekend birding at Portland Bird Observatory at the end of September, both tackling the strong westerly winds out over the huge seas and also taking a breather from those winds, snoozing in a field just along from the Obs. And, while the rest of our group was seawatching near the obelisk, I walked west along the coastal path and found one Great black-backed gull standing alone on rocks at the water’s edge.
This particular gull was ringed so I reported the sighting. It turns out the bird was not far from where it was first ringed in June 2015, on the breakwaters of Portland Harbour, as part of the Portland Gulls project. Joint project leader Terry Coombs kindly emailed me the history of P:49B and commented that ‘From the sightings we have it seems to favour Portland in the winter and cruising the Channel during the warmer months’. Apart from many sightings in the Portland area, it has also been spotted at RSPB Dungeness, on 16 March 2015 and 9 March 2019, and on the Axe estuary, on 19 August 2015.
My sincere thanks to Terry for providing the history of this gull. You can read more about his Portland Gulls project on their blog, and please do report the ringed birds (of all species) that you see – tracking bird movements is a huge part of their protection and conservation.