Journal Contents

Atlantic Seabirds Vol 4, No. 3 (2002)

Chardine, J.W. 2002. Distinguishing Black-legged Kittiwake mates at the nest-site using wing tip patterns. Atlantic Seabirds 4(3): 81-90.

Inter-individual differences in the patterns of black and white on the tips of primary feathers 5 through 10 are reported for Black-legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) from Arctic Canada and Newfoundland. Primaries were classified into five types according to the amount of white at the tip. Primaries 5 or 6 (depending on location) were the most variable between individuals and fell more evenly into the five types, compared with primaries 9 and 10, almost all of which were of one type. The Shannon-Weaver index was used to quantify this variation. The shape, number and position of the black patches at the tip of primaries 5 and 6 also varied between individuals, as did the relative size of apical white spots on primaries 6 through 10. These differences could be observed in the field with a spotting scope or binoculars and were used successfully to distinguish between members of the pair at the nest-site with 100% accuracy. Left-right symmetry in wing tip pattern within a bird was high but not perfect. Similarly, patterns were largely, but not perfectly, consistent across two successive wing moults. In conjunction with observations of courtship feeding or copulation, individual differences in wing tip pattern allow the study of birds of known sex at the nest-site, in situations when their capture and marking is undesirable or not possible. Other gull species may exhibit similar variation in wing tip patterns between individuals.

Hayes F.E., G.L. White, M. Kenefick & H. Kilpatrick. 2002. Status of the Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus [fuscus] graellsii in Trinidad and Tobago. Atlantic Seabirds 4(3): 91-100.

The Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus [fuscus] graellsii is an Old World species whose numbers have increased dramatically in the New World, but its status in South America is poorly documented. We summarise data for 36 records of an estimated 51 individuals (70.6% immature, 29.4% adult) in western Trinidad (47 ind.) and southwestern Tobago (4) from August 1978 through April 2002. All associated with flocks of Laughing Gull L. atricilla along the coast. Most records were in winter (esp. Jan-Feb), but four stayed in Trinidad throughout the summer of 2000. A few individuals that first appeared in March-April may have been northbound migrants wintering farther south. Up to 13 individuals occurred during autumn-spring in Trinidad and up to two in Tobago. Maximum daily counts included eight for Trinidad and two for Tobago. The gulls may have arrived by migrating southward across the Caribbean or westward across the central Atlantic.

Martínez-Abraín A., D. Oro, J. Carda & X. del Señor 2002. Movements of Yellow-legged Gulls Larus [cachinnans] michahellis from two small western Mediterranean colonies. Atlantic Seabirds 4(3): 101-108.

In this study we analyse recoveries and resightings of ringed Yellow-legged Gulls Larus [cachinnans] michahellis from two small colonies located along the E and SE Mediterranean Iberian coast. Results show that birds follow the same migratory routes as birds of other colonies of the western Mediterranean. Gulls move to the Atlantic coast of France and Iberia after fledging, where they summer and winter, although equally important numbers probably remain close to their natal colonies. Immature gulls (1y + 2y) seem to return and stay in the vicinity of their natal colonies during spring. Long-range movements target Atlantic areas with a high primary production during periods of food scarcity in the western Mediterranean. Adult gulls probably do shorter-term long-range dispersal movements than juveniles and immatures, owing to their larger experience on where to find alternative food sources.

Tamini L.L., Perez J.E., Chiaramonte G.E. & Cappozzo H.L. 2002. Magellanic Penguin Spheniscus magellanicus and fish as bycatch in the cornalito Sorgentinia incisa fishery at Puerto Quequén, Argentina. Atlantic Seabirds 4(3): 109-114.

Bycatch rates of fish and Magellanic Penguins Spheniscus magellanicus in the cornalito Sorgentinia incisa fishery at Puerto Quequén, Argentina is described. An estimated 100 penguins may be killed annuallly in the fishery. Although of no likely impact by itself, this bycatch should be placed in the wider context of other impacts on Magellanic Penguin populations in Patagonia.

Underhill L.G. & Chipps A. 2002. Red-billed Tropicbirds Phaethon aethereus in the southeastern Atlantic Ocean. Atlantic Seabirds 4(3): 115-118.

Six records of Red-billed Tropicbirds Phaethon aethereus have been made in the southeastern sector of the Atlantic Ocean. Three were made during the austral summer 2000/01, including the first specimen record. Four of the six records were off the coast of South Africa and two off Namibia.

Greenwood J.G. 2002. Nesting cavity choice by Black Guillemots Cepphus grylle. Atlantic Seabirds 4(3): 119-122.

The study examined the characteristics of nesting cavities of Black Guillemots Cepphus grylle at a pier in the harbour of Bangor, Co. Down, Northern Ireland during the period 1985-2001. Although the 15 nesting cavities in the pier appear superficially to be the same, there must be differences that the bird detect as some cavities were used every year and others rarely. Whilst one cavity was never used, another was used in all 17 years of the study. A number of nest cavity characteristics were measured and used as independent variables in a multiple regression with the total number of eggs laid in the cavity as the dependent variable. An exposure index (width x height / depth of cavity) and distance to the nearest steps were the two significant independent variables indicating that Black Guillemots chose the least exposed and least disturbed cavities in the pier.

Harris, M.P. & L.J. Wilson 2002. Common Guillemots Uria aalge successfully rear a Razorbill Alca torda chick. Atlantic Seabirds 4(3): 123-126.

In 2002 on the Isle of May (south-east Scotland) a pair of Common Guillemots Uria aalge successfully reared a young Razorbill Alca torda apparently following fighting for nest-sites.

Vercruijsse H.J.P., Stienen E.W.M. & Van Waeyenberge J. 2002. First pure pairs of Yellow-legged Gull Larus [cachinnans] michahellis along the North Sea coasts. Atlantic Seabirds 4(3): 127-129.

In 2002, two pure pairs of Yellow-legged Gull Larus [cachinnans] michahellis were found breeding in the outer harbour of Zeebrugge (51°21'N, 3°11'E), Belgium. These are the first pure pairs breeding along the North Sea coast. Pellets found in the vicinity of the nests suggest that the diet of their chicks consisted of fish and young rabbits. Both pairs fledged two chicks.

Camphuysen C.J., Heubeck M., Cox S.L., Bao R., Humple D., Abraham C. & Sandoval A. 2002. The Prestige oil spill in Spain. Atlantic Seabirds 4(3): 131-140.

The oil tanker Prestige, carrying a cargo of 77,000 tonnes of heavy bunker oil, sank off the coast of Galicia (NW Spain) on 19 November 2002. Most of the Galician coast was severely polluted with oil and hundreds of oiled seabirds were retrieved from beaches in the first weeks of the incident. The decision taken by Spanish authorities to tow the damaged vessel to deeper offshore waters has been described as a criminal act and was the reason why such a large area was affected. Seabird distribution in the offshore waters of Galicia has not been studied well and as a result, the impact of this spill on vulnerable populations is difficult to predict. Preliminary observations during dissections suggest that the most numerous victims (in decreasing order of abundance) have been: juvenile Razorbills (winter visitors), adult Atlantic Puffins (winter visitors), adult European Shags (residents), adult Northern Gannets (passage migrants), and juvenile Common Guillemots (winter visitors). By 23/24th November 2002 it was estimated that over 80% of Yellow-legged Gulls seen in coastal Galicia were oil-fouled, but relatively few of these were found dead or were received in rehabilitation centres. Proper impact assessments of oil spills have often been neglected in the past and would have been neglected here again. It is concluded that we need to be better prepared for dealing with the seabird casualties of the next major oil spill in Europe and that there is an urgent need for a contingency plan for Europe to establish such procedures.