Oysterbeds Update 16 Feb 2015 – Chris Cockburn

Common gull – image Chris Cockburn

It is with great pleasure that we have received the first update of 2015 from Chris to share with the community. If you visit the Oysterbed lagoon, you will find frequently find Chris with his telescopes at the southern end to welcome visitors and to advise on what is currently happening here.

Over to Chris………

The 2015 breeding season gets underway at Hayling Oysterbeds

Hello folks
The cheery noise of territorial black-headed gulls has started. The first handful of them were on the straight island on Sat 14 Feb when at least one Mediterranean gull was heard but not seen Numbers of both species noticeably increased on Sun 15 Feb with much coming & going and lots pf calling, especially from the Med. gulls.

Are these gulls creatures of habit? Well, the 2014 season started on Feb 14th  and the 2013 season on Feb 10th. Presumably daylight hours must be the trigger (weather conditions  were very different in those years).

Anyway, numbers and noise should increase soon and it will great to see the Med gulls again displaying on the islands (and perhaps an opportunity to read some alpha-numeric Darvik rings).

Both of the lagoon islands have been significantly eroded due to storm-wave action; so it will be interesting to see how many nests are made this year (677 black-headed gull nests and 10 Med gull nests in 2014).

There are at least three potential pairs of oystercatchers in the lagoon area; but they will probably have another abject season unless they heed the advice to start nesting well before the gulls get down to business in early April.

The high tide wader roosts are still giving good value, especially during the higher spring tides despite the relatively lower number of over-wintering birds in the harbour (brent geese excepted). The low numbers are likely result of many waders and wildfowl staying in western Europe (particularly Holland etc) whilst no major freeze-up occurred.

It will not be long before the northwards bird movements start and it will be autumn before we see birds such as common gulls:

Hopefully, once spring arrives, there will be more to report.
Chris C

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