In 2019 there will be a national census of urban nesting Gulls. This follows last year’s survey of naturally nesting seabirds as part of the 4th UK seabird census (called the Seabird Count) which has been running since 2015 but only fully funded and nationally coordinated since 2018. The census has been developed by the Seabird Monitoring Panel (SMP) and is coordinated by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), managed by national organiser Daisy Burnell and a team of county organisers for which I volunteered for Kent.
Last year in Kent we achieved almost 100% coverage of our regular naturally nesting seabirds which comprise Fulmar, Cormorant, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern and Common Tern. My thanks to the various local organisers who arranged coverage for their regions of the county. Results have been collated and are being entered on the JNCC national database. It is hoped that the data from the 2018 and 2019 fieldwork will be presented in a future paper in the Kent Bird Report and will document the first census of our seabirds for many years.
It’s now time to prepare for the final year of the Seabird Count which will be of our urban nesting Gulls. 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 factory roofs in industrial estates.
Although details of the methodology have not yet been rolled out, the approach will be to undertake sample counts from which estimates of total numbers will be made. It is therefore important that we know where all our urban Gulls are located. The results of the Kent Breeding Bird Atlas will be used but it is likely that birds may have spread since. I will be contacting last year’s local organisers to help again, and to spread the word and enlist volunteers to assist, if necessary, in their areas.
If anyone wishes to take part please let me know and I will suggest an area in which they can help and local organiser to contact, unless of course they have an area already in mind that they would like to count. I would also appreciate if anyone knowing of nesting Gulls on houses or factories at sites in Kent could let me know of the location so that I can direct survey effort. Please don’t assume that a site or town is a known breeding site already, it may not be, and I would like the survey to be as complete as possible.