Gulls with rings on Arran

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Bird Notes by Jim Cassels

In June this year there were two reports of gulls with rings on their legs on Arran.

Both were lesser black-backed gulls, a familiar bird round the coast in the summer. This species is in decline. Both birds had coloured Darvic rings enabling the bird to be identified at a distance.

Bird 0J5:C was photographed in a garden in Lamlash on June 11. This bird had been ringed in Kildonan on July 2 2017. In winter it had been photographed in El Franco, Austarias, Spain, on November 29 2018.

Bird 4MB:C was seen in Porta Buidhe, Kildonan, on June 9. Its history was more extensive than the bird above. It also had been ringed in Kildonan, in the ringer’s garden, on June 24 2014.

In winter, on November 21 2014, it was on Pinto landfill site, Madrid, Spain, where it was photographed. On February 12 2015, it was at the same location in Spain.

The next report was Porta Buidhe, Kildonan, on July 14 2018 and almost exactly a year later, on July 16 2019, it was at the same location.

In the winter, on January 6 2020, it was back on Pinto landfill site, Madrid, Spain, before returning to Porta Buidhe, Kildonan, on June 9.

It is always a sense of wonder to me how birds migrate regularly so precisely from one location to another.

The ringers on Arran, part of the Clyde ringing group, started putting coloured Darvic rings on gulls in 2014.

To date on Arran they have ringed 204 lesser black-backed gulls, 218 herring gulls, 63 common gulls and 21 great black-backed gulls.

The collective information received on the ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls gives an insight into bird migration.

The lesser black-backed gulls birds breeding in the west of Scotland are heading south via Ireland to winter mainly in coastal Portugal and Spain with some moving further south to Morocco, Senegal and Gambia – see map.

Young non-breeding birds have also been reported in the summer from France and Holland. These younger birds do not make the complete migration back to their breeding areas until about four years old.

Information from ringed birds helps not only to give an insight into this migration but also helps to increase understanding of population changes and the possible causes of population decline.

You can help. Bird ringing in Britain and Ireland is organised and co-ordinated by the British Trust for Ornithology. A network of more than 2,400 trained and licensed volunteers currently ring more than 800,000 birds every year.

If you come across any birds with rings, please pass on the information through EURING Groups of gulls are worth an extra look to see if you can spot and read a colour ringed bird. All sightings of colour ringed gulls are welcome, even of birds that seem to be resident in an area. Please share information on any ringed birds seen with local ringer Terry Southall, email address

Enjoy your birding and keep safe.

Please send any bird notes with ‘what, when, where’ to me at Kilpatrick Kennels, Kilpatrick, Blackwaterfoot, KA27 8EY, or email me at I look forward to hearing from you. For more information on birding on Arran purchase the Arran Bird Report, fhe first 40 years, which includes the annual report for 2019 and visit this website


Bird 0J5:C photographed in Austarias, Spain, in November 2018. Photograph: Gilberto S Jardon NO_B31gull01

Bird 0J5:C photographed in Lamlash, Arran, in June 2020. Photograph: Sue Archer NO_B 31gull02

Bird 4MB:C photographed in a refuse tip in Madrid, Spain. Photograph: Javier Marchamato NO_B31gull03

A map showing where birds ringed on Arran have been reported in winter. NO_B31gull04