Young gull heads for the sun

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A young black-backed gull which was ringed on the Ailsa Craig has turned up in Malaga in Spain.

On 16 July 2013 a young Lesser Black-backed Gull, a few weeks old, was ringed on Ailsa Craig by Dr Bernie Zonfrillo and Fiona Morton of the Clyde Ringing Group.

Along with another 19 gulls it was given a plastic engraved colour ring 3L3:C so that it could be recognised in the field using binoculars or through a telescope.

Nothing more was heard or seen of this young gull until 21 December 2013 when a birdwatcher in southern Spain photographed the bird in Malaga harbour.

Dr Zonfrillo thought the bird had quickly moved south in August or September and had entered the Mediterranean via the Straits of Gibraltar, although an overland route cannot be discounted.

Dr Zonfrillo said: “Lesser Black-backed Gulls, unlike Herring Gulls, are highly migratory and most will leave Scotland in autumn and spend the winter on the Atlantic coast of Europe and North Africa.

“In spring they will return north, usually to where they hatched.”

Another bird, ringed on Horse Island off Ardrossan in July 2013 by the Clyde Ringing Group, got much further south when it was reported from a beach in The Gambia, West Africa on 5 November 2013.

Dr Zonfrillo added: “We look forward to seeing these birds back in Scotland in a few months time.

“They usually breed at around three or four years of age.”

Members of the public can report any such colour ringed birds to us via the British Trust for Ornithology’s website which can be found at