Thursday 30 September 2021

Mediterranean Gulls in the Camel estuary in Summer/Autumn 2021

Med gulls & Black headed gulls line up on the oyster floats. August 28th


August 28th

July 20th

There was a recent count of over 300 Mediterranean gulls on the town bar off of Padstow harbour.

So it was inevitable that there would be a few birds with "readable" colour rings on their legs.

For a few years I've used my kayak to drift amongst the oyster floats that are anchored off Porthilly point next to Rock on the opposite side of the estuary from Padstow. These floats are well used by seabirds at all states of the tide and if a bit of care is taken they will stay to be photographed and the ring numbers recorded. Although for me getting a good quality photo of any bird outweighs my "recording instincts"!

On the 20th July it was mostly Med gulls with a few Black headed's on the floats along with maybe a dozen Sandwich Terns. By the end of August it's more Black headed & less Med Guls with about 20 Sandwich Terns, although I did watch the terns farther upstream toward Wadebridge feeding at high water.

Thanks to Mark Grantham chair of Cornwall Birds I've been very impressed with the response to the colour ringed birds I've passed to him. 


I've learnt a lot about the wanderings of these gulls.

Both teams answered our emails overnight and have updated their sighting record to include my reports. Very impressed with their respective responses!

So here are a few pics of ringed birds along with a precis of their movements without any "people" info.

3YYP coloured ringed Med Gull.

The above Med gull ringed with colour ring 3YYP was ringed as a >3rd Cal year bird on 13/05/2017 at Antwerpen, Flanders, BELGIUM.

It was then spotted in the Camel estuary from 26th July 2017 until 8th Nov 2017 when it was then spotted on 09/01/2018 at Ria A Coruña, Santa Cruz de Oleiros, Lians; Oleiros; A Coruña; Galicia; SPAIN.

On 24/03/2018 it was at gravières des Bretonnières; Montreuil-sur-Loir; Maine-et-Loire; Pays de la Loire; France.

On 13/07/2018 it was back on the Camel estuary; Padstow; Cornwall; England; where it stayed until the 1st Dec 2018.

On 30/12/2018 it was at Vila Nova de Milfontes; Odemira; Beja; Portugal.

On 12th Feb 2019 it was back in Ria A Coruña in Spain.

On 16/04/2019 it was back in Belgium at Antwerpen; Flanders; BELGIUM.

On 14/06/2019 at Zwin; Knokke-Heist; West-Vlaanderen; Flanders; BELGIUM.

Then on 22/07/2019 back at the Camel estuary; Padstow; Cornwall; England;

It then stayed there until 6th October 2019.

It then moved but stayed in Cornwall and was seen on 18/11/2019 at Portscatho; Gerrans; Cornwall; England;

By 09/03/2020 it was back to where it was initially ringed in Antwerpen; Flanders; BELGIUM.

By 24/07/2020 it was back in the Camel estuary; Padstow; Cornwall; England;

It stayed on the Camel until 18th Nov 2020.

On 15/03/2021 it was back to Antwerpen; Flanders; BELGIUM where it was recorded until 19th April 2021.

On 19/07/2021 it was back in the UK at Lodmoor RSPB; Weymouth; Dorset; England;

Finally up to date I photographed it back on the Camel estuary on 21/07/2021 Padstow; Cornwall; England;

So after all of that we know a lot about this bird that has returned to the Camel for 4 consecutive years since it was ringed.

I have the history of several others but it is a laborious job extracting the information from the pdf's so take it from me there is a lot of movement of these birds between the UK & Europe & I don't expect Brexit to change that!

34LR coloured ringed Med Gull. 

34LR was ringed as a >3rd Calendar year bird on 12/05/2021 Zwarts eiland, Ventjagersplaten (Haringvliet), Den Bommel, The Netherlands.


3462 colour ringed Med Gull. 

3462 Med Gull was ringed as a pullus or nestling on 18/06/2020 again at Antwerpen; Flanders; BELGIUM.

It was recorded on the Camel on 21st Aug 2020 until 21st Oct 2020 then again on 10th July 2021 and when I photographed it on 20th July 2021.

Yellow ring Med Gull AZEN ringed in Leipzig Germany.

Here is the information I've received about this bird.......

Current colour ring yellow AZEN

Species Mediterranean gull (Larus melanocephalus)

Central Hiddensee

Ringing date 11.06.2019

Ringing place Rehbach Gravel Pit, Leipzig, Sachsen

Ringer Team Leipzig

Age at ringing 1 Pullus: nestling or chick, unable to fly.

Date Place Country Latitude / Longitude Km Days Type Finder Remarks

01.07.2019 Rehbach Gravel Pit, Leipzig, Sachsen Germany

02.07.2019 Rehbach Gravel Pit, Leipzig, Sachsen Germany

08.07.2019 Rehbach Gravel Pit, Leipzig, Sachsen Germany

02.08.2019 Camel Estuary, Cornwall

08.08.2019 Camel Estuary, Cornwall

15.09.2019 Camel Estuary, Cornwall 

28.08.2021 Photographed  by myself on the Camel estuary Cornwall.


On the 25th & 26th September I was lucky to be included in a meeting with Renaud Flamant from Belgium who was visiting the Cornwall for the weekend and hoping to "read" some Med gull rings.

Renaud is the co-ordinator for most of the Med gull ringing projects in Western Europe.

Along with Derek Julian we visited a few sites on the Camel estuary & on the Sunday Renaud visited the Lizard & Hayle estuary with Mark Grantham & Simon Taylor. 

I learned a lot in a short time spending a few hours sat on the edge of the estuary watching, recording and listening to and about, Med gulls.

We spotted several colour ringed gulls and I will post some details of them when they've been processed.

What I did learn was about their "two step" migration pattern where they fly west from their breeding grounds in Belgium, France, Netherlands, Germany, Hungary etc. and turn up on our estuary (and of course many others). After spending several months here they then fly south to Spain or Portugal to see out the winter before heading north again to breed in the spring.

Renaud & myself

Derek, myself & Renaud.

Gulls roosting on the oyster floats at Porthilly point.