Breeding season 2014 | Lifewatch regional portal

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Breeding season 2014

During the breeding season of 2014 (June-July), all tagged birds remained relatively close to their breeding grounds in Flanders: the harbor of Ostend for the European Herring Gulls, the harbor of Zeebrugge for the Lesser Black-Backed Gulls, and Het Krekengebied in East-Flanders for the Western Marsh Harriers. During the breeding season, some birds only foraged at sea and some birds preferred the hinterlands, while others could be found both at sea and in the fields. 

By clicking on the map on the right, you are redirected to an interactive map displaying the breeding season of 2014. The map shows the data of Jurgen by default, but in the map legend you can select other individuals.

During the breeding season, different birds displayed different behavior patterns. Below, you can read about the peculiar stories of Jurgen (♂), Anne (♀), Annelies (♀), Ella (♀), Harry (♂), Jasmin (♀), Lies (♀), Michelle (♀), Roxanne (♀), Peter (♂) and Jozef (♂).



Once a fisherman/beach girl, always a fisherman/beach girl!

Last year, in the summer of 2013, Jurgen (801), a male European Herring Gull, made a daily trip at sea to find his favorite sea food snacks, and frequently visited the fields and meadows around Zedelgem to supplement his diet. In contrast to Jurgen, Anne (786), a female European Herring Gull, never went far out at sea but preferred to stay close to or on the beach. Sometimes you could find her in the hinterlands of Ostend, but her absolute favorite foraging spots were the breakwaters in Ostend. In the summer of 2014, both Jurgen and Anne still exhibited the same behavior and had the same preference for foraging as the year before. Once a fisherman/beach girl, always a fisherman/beach girl!

For an animated visualization of Jurgen and Anne, click on the image on the left.


Fish 'n chips!

One of the most surprising outcomes of the 2013 GPS data were the feeding trips of many Lesser Black-Backed Gulls to an industrialized part of Moeskroen, 65 km from the colony. The birds were attracted to a factory that produces potato chips and were feeding on chips and other potato products declared unfit for human consumption and dumped in containers. In the summer of 2014, the chips factory remained a very popular spot for several Lesser Black-Backed Gulls: Annelies (♀), Ella (♀), Harry (♂), Jasmin (♀), Lies (♀), Michelle (♀) and Roxanne (♀) all made regular trips to the chips factory. Lies even traveled back and forth between Vlissingen and Moeskroen on an almost daily basis.

For an animated visualization of the chips-eating birds, click on the image on the left.


Harry, the experienced traveler

While the other gulls stayed relatively close to their nesting areas in the breeding season of 2014, Harry (719), a male Lesser Black-backed Gull, really enjoyed traveling great distances during this period. In the course of June and July 2014, Harry visited the Dutch Wadden Isles and the cities of Utrecht and Rotterdam (The Netherlands). He made several trips to northern France, including fairly regular visits at the chips factory in Moeskroen, and could be seen as far south as Saint-Quentin. He also crossed the English Channel a few times and traveled the UK as far North as Sheffield. It would seem Harry was looking for exquisite food and unique local produce for his offspring, but the truth is, Harry did not have a nest this year. Not being tied to a fixed colony, he was free to do whatever he wanted and travel to wherever he wanted!

For an animated visualization of Harry's summer adventures, click on the image on the left.


Michelle and the French Cuisine

Also Michelle (853), a female Lesser Black-backed Gull, was not breeding in the summer of 2014, and was free to travel to neighbour colonies and find the best feeding spots there. Being a true food lover, she didn't mind flying far to satisfy her hunger for fancy snacks. During the breeding season of 2014, she often visited the chips factory in Moeskroen for some crispy delicacies, she liked flying along the beach on the look-out for the perfect bivalve, she foraged the hinterlands of Northern France to find the most delicious earthworms or escargots, and for dessert she went to Calais to have the ultimate cocktail of seafood and human food leftovers.

For an animated visualization of Michelle's French feeding frenzies, click on the image on the left.


Meanwhile in Western Marsh Harrier territory...

During the breeding season of 2014, both Peter (623) and Jozef (610), the two male Western Marsh Harriers, stayed within a range of only a few kilometers around their nests. Unfortunately, no data was received for Mia, the female Western Marsh Harrier. Did she perhaps abandon her nest after last year's disaster and did she decide to find her luck elsewhere?

For an animated visualization of the Western Marsh Harriers' summer, click on the image on the left.