Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Mediterranean Gull Survey

Mediterranean Gull (often referred to simply as ‘Med Gull’) is a species which has undergone a dramatic and well documented expansion across Europe. They were once found breeding only around the Mediterranean regions of France, Italy, Greece and also along coast of the Black Sea. In winter they would disperse over the Mediterranean Sea and out into the Iberian Atlantic. In recent decades they began forming new breeding colonies in northern continental Europe. Instead of an expected southerly migration after breeding, these pioneering gulls now fly northwest to Ireland and Britain!

Breeding plumage adult Med Gull © Stephen Lawlor

Observations of birds fitted with colour rings has shown that Mediterranean Gulls found in Ireland largely originate from breeding colonies on the near continent (France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Denmark). The number of post-breeding Mediterranean Gulls found in Ireland begins to build at well-known staging sites such as South Dublin Bay and Cork Harbour from June onward with peak counts often recorded from late July to mid August.

Colour-ringed Med Gull © Conn O'Brien

They are now considered a regular but uncommon bird in Ireland, present throughout the winter around harbours, rocky coasts, estuaries and amenity grassland/sports pitches (where they feed on invertebrates) until they leave for their continental nesting sites in March/April. They are still a scarce bird in the west and north however, seemingly favouring the somewhat drier and warmer climes of Leinster and Munster. Their expansion has continued across Europe and Mediterranean Gulls now breed in small numbers in Ireland (c.20 pairs) since 1995, mostly in Wexford and Antrim.

The number of Mediterranean Gulls recorded at post-breeding staging sites in Ireland has been steadily increasing over the past few years with 100+ birds to be expected at favoured locations in high summer. A recent count at Sandymount Strand, Co. Dublin revealed 257 ‘Med Gulls’ present at the evening roost on 12th July.

Juvenile Med Gull © Stephen Lawlor

As such, a coordinated count of Mediterranean Gulls at evening roost sites in Ireland has been organised for Monday 27th July (East Coast focus) and Tuesday 4th August (South Coast focus). We would ask waterbird counters, birders and interested members of the public to go out and check their local gull roost on those evenings and report back with details of any Mediterranean Gulls they find (see details below).

The use of two dates gives a chance for optimal count conditions at sites both in the east and the south, but coordinated counts from both regions on both dates are encouraged.

Date: Monday 27th July (East Coast focus)
Start: 20:30
Finish: Dusk
Sunset: 21:30
Evening High Tide: 3.5m @ 21:19 (Dublin - North Wall)
Evening Low Tide: 1.2m @ 21:11 (Cobh)

Date: Tuesday 4th August (South Coast focus)
Start: 20:15
Finish: Dusk
Sunset: 21:15
Evening High Tide: 4.2m @ 21:22 (Cobh)
Evening Low Tide: 0.6m @ 20:58 (Dublin – North Wall)

The following information is requested:
  • Number of birds present
  • Age of birds present (adult / 2nd-summer / 1st-summer / juvenile)
  • Presence and details of any colour ringed birds
  • Latest time (closest to dusk) when birds are recorded
  • Direction of travel by birds to/from survey site
  • Behaviour (e.g. roosting, feeding)

The last three pieces of information (especially times seen) will be useful in ascertaining whether there is any movement between sites, overlap in counts etc.

All records can be submitted to Niall Keogh by e-mail nkeogh@birdwatchireland.ie 

An indication of who is covering which sites would be desirable before the count dates so as to allocate effort if needs be so please get in touch if you are planning on taking part.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Roof-nesting gulls 2015: a request for records

In 2014, Dublin City Council in collaboration with BirdWatch Ireland established The Dublin City Urban Birds Project, initiating a series of volunteer-led monitoring projects throughout Dublin City including the roof-nesting gull survey which aims to map the distribution of gulls breeding in urban environments.

The roof-nesting gull survey has continued through the summer of 2015 and we are still looking for members of the public to submit their records of Herring Gulls (pale blue-grey back with pink legs), Lesser Black-backed Gulls (slate grey back with yellow legs) or Great Black-backed Gulls (black back with pink legs) that may be currently tending to well grown chicks.

Herring Gull at a typical urban nest site, located between chimney pots © Daragh Owens

Historical records are also appreciated, so if you have noticed any of the following breeding behaviour on the roof/chimney of your home or place of work this year or in previous years then please fill out the quick and easy roof-nesting gull survey form: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Roof_Nesting_Gull_Survey

  • Pair of gulls holding territory/displaying at a suitable nest site
  • Agitated behaviour (alarm calling, dive bombing) displayed by adults
  • Adult seen sitting on a nest or brooding small chicks
  • Downy young seen at or near suitable nest site 

Records from other urban areas around Ireland are also welcome so if you have observed gulls breeding on rooftops in any town or city then please let us know.

Lesser Black-backed Gull with a well grown chick © Friends of Emsworth Wildlife

Wednesday, 1 July 2015


Please text BIRD to 50300 to donate €4 to our Seabird Appeal 
(a minimum of €3.25 will go to BirdWatch Ireland)

Save Ireland's Seabirds

Ireland’s seabirds are threatened and urgently need your help.  We are home to some of the most important seabird colonies in the world, but these are coming under increasing pressure and need proper protection. Help us to secure a future for Ireland’s seabirds before it’s too late.

Threats to our Seabirds
Irish seabirds have one thing in common: they are in trouble.  Sea pollution, overfishing, climate change and a host of other threats have made their lives ever more difficult.  Human disturbance has hit them hard too, and some colonies are now also overrun with mink and rats which eat the birds’ eggs and chicks; this could be the final straw.

What we’ll be doing
BirdWatch Ireland has been at the forefront of protecting and monitoring our seabirds for the last 45 years. Our work has ensured the recovery of the national Roseate Tern population at colonies in the Irish Sea, Gannets are thriving on the BirdWatch Ireland reserve of Little Skellig, and Little Terns are being protected from disturbance on the Wicklow Coast. To continue and expand this important work, we need your help….

Your donation will directly fund projects that will help us:

  • To have more wardens on the ground to protect important colonies.
  • To remove the rats, mink and other non-native predators that prey on the chicks.
  • To carry out much needed research and monitoring, to learn more of how our seabirds live, where they go to feed and how well they are coping with the unprecedented changes to the marine environment.
  • To actively lobby for seabird protection at sea

How your donation will help

  • €5 will help pay for materials to build a Roseate Tern nest-box
  • €20 will buy an electric fence battery to help protect Little Tern colonies
  • €50 will buy a GPS tag for seabird research and monitoring
  • €250 will help charter a boat to take staff and volunteers to the Roseate Tern colony on Rockabill
  • €1,000 will pay for an expedition to survey threatened seabirds on remote west coast islands

Thank you for your support.

Appeal Target: €5,000 and beyond

   Donating online is simple and secure: 


You can also donate by:
Telephone: 01-2819878 
Post: Donations by cheque, please make payable to BirdWatch Ireland and send to: Save Ireland's Seabirds Appeal, BirdWatch Ireland, Unit 20, Block D, Bullford Business Campus, Kilcoole, Greystones Co. Wicklow.