A New Year surprise!

Friday, 01 January 2021 10:43


Walk across the Renteria bridge in Gernika on any winter day and you will see more than 200 seagulls hovering over the river. When they come to rest on the railing, you will get a great view of their elegant winter plumage.

Crorid barandan

These beautiful birds are black headed gulls (Chroicocephalusridibundus), a very abundant species of gull in central and northern Europe. Although there are some individuals which breed in the Iberian Peninsula, the vast majority that can be seen here are migrants from the regions of Europe mentioned above.
About two weeks ago, friends of the Urdaibai Bird Center notified us that one of the seagulls had a metal ring on its legs. Keen to discover the identity and origin of the bird, one of our members of staff began some investigation work.

Camera at the ready, he set off in the direction of the bridge. Pulling up by the roadside he could see many gulls from his car. He was in luck! The ringed individual was in sight. He was able to take many pictures of it, despite the fact that he was beeped by the cars behind him and stared at by many passersby.


And the good news is that his work has paid off ! He downloaded the photos on New Year´s Eve and the information was easy to read. What a surprise!

8T87036 eraztuna

Information shown on the ring

An old friend has returned! It is the same bird that he photographed on the bridge a year ago. Having reproduced in the center of Europe, the gull has come back to its favourite wintering spot.

Last year the bird´s ring information was sent to the Aranzadi Ringing Office. This organization processed it and we learned that the gull had been ringed as an adult on May 20, 2018 in the Belgian town of Berendrecht, a few kilometers from Antwerp. 


It is 1019 km as the crow (or gull) flies from Gernika to Berendrecht

This seagull has been observed in Gernika twice, once in 2018 and once in 2019. We are sure, however, that she has wintered here on many other occasions.

We have also been able to identify individuals from Malmo (Sweden) and Gdansk (Poland) in this flock of gulls. Why not join is in our investigation? You can read the rings of these wonderful travellers too. All you need is a camera. Come to Gernika and collaborate in the identification of these amazing birds.


Origins of the black headed gulls identified in Gernika.

Finally, from all at Urdaibai Bird Center, the best of luck to our Belgian friend in 2021. We hope to see her again next winter on her favorite bridge in Gernika.


We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

I accept cookies from this site.

EU Cookie Directive Module Information