Herring Gulls © Tony Morris

In 2018 a national survey was carried out of all seabird species nesting in “natural” locations. In Kent this covered all our breeding Gull species (Herring, LBB, Common, Black-headed and Mediterranean), Terns (Sandwich, Common and Little), plus Fulmar and Cormorant. Full coverage was achieved, resulting in the first assessment of Kent’s breeding seabirds for many years. Results include a total of 120 pairs of Fulmar, mostly around the Thanet cliffs, although missing from the survey will be the huge number of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls which nest in non-natural sites i.e. urban sites such as house and factory rooftops. Full details of the Seabird Count can be found here.

In 2019, however, the Seabird Count aims to conduct a national survey of urban Gulls, so this will complete the picture for Kent. This will be no mean feat as Kent has huge numbers of roof nesting Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, not just on houses in our coastal towns but inland too, particularly on warehouse and factory roofs in industrial estates. Details of the survey have been issued by the JNCC National Organiser (Daisy Burnell). I have contacted last year’s local organisers to help again, and to spread the word and enlist volunteers to assist in their areas.

There are two arms to the survey in Kent:-

Repeat Sites Survey

This covers sites where Gulls were surveyed during the last seabird census in 2000. It will be required to count all breeding Gulls in Whitstable, Herne Bay, Birchington-Ramsgate, Folkestone, Greatstone-Dymchurch and Ashford.
No repeat sites have been provided for Dover or Maidstone and Canterbury, although these are known, and in the case of Dover very long established, breeding sites for which it is hoped to obtain complete counts of breeding Gull populations. Other more recently occupied towns where breeding Gulls are present include the Medway Towns and Gravesend-Dartford. Again, it is hoped to count breeding Gulls in these towns.

Random Square Survey

The aim of this is to assess the expansion of breeding ranges since the last census. A total of 182 1km squares have been selected across Kent using a stratified random sampling approach. This means that all squares will contain potential nesting habitat but not necessarily breeding Gulls, and that some known colonies may not be included.

Covering such a large number of squares for the national survey will be challenging, but I would like to ensure that we get good coverage of all known sites in the county so that that Kent population estimates of our breeding Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (combined with last year’s survey of natural sites) are as accurate as possible. This will mean covering areas that might not be included in the randomly selected squares.
Survey packs are available which contain background details, survey instructions, health and safety advice, recording forms etc. Initially I have supplied these to the local organisers who can then send out further to volunteers as required. I can also supply direct to volunteers in areas not covered by the local organisers. These packs contain the list of randomly selected 1km squares with a map link so that volunteers can print out a map of the square they wish to cover or have been requested to cover. Please make sure that the local organiser is aware of the square/s you intend to cover. All results should be returned to the local organiser or directly to me as the regional organiser. I will collate all results and summarise the data for KOS before submitting to the JNCC.

In brief, the survey of repeat sites will involve counting birds (AON – Apparently Occupied Nest; AOT – Apparently Occupied Territory or IND – count of individual adults) from suitable vantage points. The random square survey will involve making ground-based counts as above. Obviously, it may not be possible to determine counts of AON from ground level and so assessments will largely be AOT and more likely IND. Only single visits are required but volunteers may wish to make repeat visits to confirm or otherwise previous observations. The requested survey period is Apr 23rd to May 7th (just two weeks!) but I have agreed with the National Organiser that it will be ok to survey up until the end of June.

For further information please contact Murray Orchard by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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