Author: L. Jurinović

After the Croatian population of the Audouin’s gull was discovered only in 1996, in parallel with the counting of nesting pairs, in 2003 we started the ringing project. In addition to using metal rings, we also used colored rings. Such rings are larger and much more suitable for obtaining findings, respectively it is easier to read the unique markings on the ring that tells us who, when and where ringed the bird and how many times it was noticed. In this way we get a history of the movement of the bird.

Since we did not have a project, these rings were mostly financed from our own sources, but with the great help of the Mljet National Park, which provided / organized transport to the colonies in the Park, but also in the area of Lastovnjaci and Vrhovnjaci islands before declaring the Lastovo Islands a nature park.

Tagging Audouin’s gull (Author: Archive L. Jurinović)

For Audouin’s gulls, we use a yellow colored ring with two characters. Over the years, we have ringed a total of 68 young and 23 adults of them. According to the literature, after leaving the colonies, they travel towards the Strait of Gibraltar and continue south where they spend the winter on the coasts of Morocco and further south towards Senegal. During the last 17 years, we have received a total of 34 foreign finds of Audouin’s gulls that were ringed in Croatia as nestlings. Most of the findings, as many as 25, come from Italy. From these findings, it is visible that after leaving the nesting ground, young birds spend the autumn of the first year on the Italian coast of the Adriatic Sea, and then move to northwest Africa, where our birds were found in Morocco and Senegal during January and February.

(Maarten Van Kleinwee, https://gullstothehorizon.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/reading-ringed-lesser-black-backed-gulls-in-morocco-january-2019/?fbclid=IwAR0pBGoDfRNLmz33K5xz-CFc3_bx-Zu48xBBVaqsA4zaOiP7zSbTW_WIvaM)

However, seagulls always make sure that not everything is simple and according to the book. Therefore we have two findings that deviate from the described behavior pattern. The first finding was a bird ringed in one of the Mljet colonies on June 19, 2005 and which was found less than two months later on the Atlantic coast in the town of Mutric in northeastern Spain. It remains doubtful whether this bird flew towards Gibraltar, instead of south, north or (which should be unbelievable for Audouin’s gulls) flew over the Iberian Peninsula. It is interesting to note that the Audouin’s gull is a rare species in the Basque Country.

Another unusual finding is a bird in the small town of Villeneuve on the Swiss part of the shores of Lake Geneva in May 2020. If the last find was interesting, this one is unbelievable, to say the least. Namely, the Audouin’s gull is an endemic species for the Mediterranean and, unlike most species of gulls, it stays only near the sea where it hunts for food. This is only the tenth finding of a Audouin’s gull in Swiss history.

And finally, so it would not to be boring, the bird found in Switzerland is the same one that was found in January 2019 during the usual wintering in Morocco 😊.