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Friday, 18 July 2014

The Beckton Gull Colony






As it stands this could well be the largest Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gull colony in London, an earlier count of incubating birds from Beckton Sewage works provided the following for 2014.


The Colony taken recently on July 12th with juveniles everywhere

Herring Gull – 40 incubating birds, this includes some birds actually on the Sewage works as well as the disused Jetty.

Lesser Black Backed Gull – 77 incubating birds, again this includes one pair ‘inland’

Very likely the tip of the iceberg as I simply cannot see the entire Jetty, or for that matter all of the Victorian pillars that stretch west.
I know that Gary James also records the numbers here so I will have to check with him also.

I have also been checking back to see when the colony first ‘evolved ‘ and when the breeding colony first came to light.
The very first records I can see in the Essex Bird Reports are 1996 – ‘Herring Gull – one pair with three large young’ nothing for Lesser Black Backed Gull.
In 1997 Beckton showed, Herring Gull 4 pair – at least six young – Lesser Black Backed Gull 7 pairs, at least 3 young which may suggest just summering of some.
From then on there was a steady rise in both species fortune, I suspect possibly down to Rainham Tip and the attraction of waste.
The Essex Bird Report for 2000 gives a figure of Herring Gull – 34 pairs and Lesser Black Backed Gull – 76 pairs.

Sections of the Jetty from east to west 



This is the section I suspect the Great Black Backed Gull is behind - unusual also to see an Egyptian Goose up there.

Pillars stretching off to the west, many hold breeding Gulls

The recent figure for this year may suggest stability in both species although I understand that the nationwide trend is downwards.

In recent years also Great Black Backed Gull has bred in the colony, after seeing an adult recently carrying either a Moorhen or Coot chick in its bill heading straight towards the colony, I suspect they are again.
A search of the Jetty drew a blank, it could well be, like last time in an unseen area.



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