Country Corner

Country Corner - March 29 - ringed gull
Country Corner - March 29 - ringed gull

Regular reaaders may recall that, around this time last year, I photographed a black headed gull at Fisherrow Sands in Musselburgh.

This bird could be seen to be wearing a leg ring.

Enlargement of the picture enabled this ring to be read, but frustratingly, only one side of the inscription.

At that time, it was possible to see that this gull was ringed in Norway, and the ring number began with the letters MB.

I said in a Country Corner at the time that the bird was probably an annual winter visitor to Fisherow, so there may be a chance to read the full inscription when the bird returned for winter 2011/12.

As if to prove the value of patience and persistence, I photographed a ringed black headed gull at Fisherow on March 6 this year, which I am inclined to believe is the same bird.

This time, I managed enough photos to read the ring in full (MB19562)

Reporting this information to Stavanger Museum has lead to some very interesting details. The gull was ringed as a juvenile at Froylandsvatnet, Rogaland, Norway, on June 9, 2003.

It is suspected to breed there each year, but the ring has only ever been read by Scottish observers during the bird’s winter holidays at Musselburgh.

So we know it was at Fisherrow in September 2004, October 2004, December 2007 and March 2012.

I do like when a ring I report turns out to be worn by an older bird.

This means there is often a longer history and it becomes clear just how far travelled such birds are.

It seems probable this one has crossed the North Sea every Spring and Autumn since 2004 or even 2003.

Also the ring and digital photography allow us the chance to find out just how many more years this Musselburgh-loving gull will make this crossing.

Feel free to help by tossing a crust to any ringed gull you see in Musselburgh and snapping away as many pictures as you can.

Maybe with luck, you too can read the legend MB19562 and add to an already very interesting history!

More Country Corner in next week’s paper