GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS NESTING ON SLIPPER MILLPOND, EMSWORTH 2012-2020
February 2021 — The Great Black-backed Gulls are back on Slipper Millpond for the 10th year running!!
A pair of Great Black-backed Gulls has nested successfully on one of the rafts on Slipper Millpond Emsworth each year since 2012. Here’s a summary of the nesting.
A pair of Great Black-backed Gulls nested for the first time ever in Emsworth, on the centre raft on Slipper Millpond in 2012 producing two youngsters.
Back on the pond for the 2nd year!!
They nested again on the same raft in 2013 producing three youngsters.
Back on the pond for the 3rd year running!!
In December 2013 the Slipper Millpond Association decided to deter the gulls from nesting again due to their predation of other avian inhabitants on the pond, notably Coot. To achieve this the three rafts were covered with wires, but this did not put the birds off and they nested again successfully in 2014 rearing one youngster.
Back on the pond for the 4th year running!!
They were back again in 2015 and nested successfully hatching three chicks, but all three were drowned when they fell from the raft. So, this year’s nesting was unsuccessful.
Back on the pond for the 5th year running!!
The two gulls returned again to the pond in the spring of 2016. They nested on the centre raft again and produced three chicks of which two youngsters survived. One mature juvenile was seen dead on the raft in July, from unknown cause.
Back on the pond for the 6th year running!!
They were back again in 2017, but, very surprisingly, were ousted from their usual central nesting raft by a pair of Canada Geese. They settled down on a smaller raft and hatched three chicks of which two survived and fledged by early July.
Back on the pond for the 7th year running!!
They are back again on the south raft on 8th March where they nested last year and successfully produced two youngsters. A Canada Goose was back on the centre raft as last year. Nest building during March. Both birds were on the raft on Apr-11 with one bird sitting on nest. Three chicks were hatched on or before May 16th.
Two chicks survived and were fledged in July. They finally left the pond by July 17th.
Back on the pond for the 8th year running!!
The pair of Great Black-backed Gulls was on the centre raft in early February making an early claim to their preferred nesting site which for the past 2 years has been occupied by Canada Geese. They were settling in early March and on the nest in April. Two chicks were raised and fledged in July.
Back on the pond for the 9th year running!! March-early April – Pair of Great Black-backed Gulls are nesting on the south raft on Slipper Millpond with the Canada Geese on the centre raft as in previous years. 14-May – Gulls hatch two chicks on the south raft. 05-Jun – The two young Great Black-backed Gulls fledged successfully and remained on the pond until early July. Late August – Two young gulls still on pond – on north raft.
The Great Black-backed Gulls are back on Slipper Millpond for the 10th year running!!
09-Jan-21 – Two Great Black-backed Gulls back on Slipper Millpond
01-Feb-21 – Great Black-backed Gull pair on pond. South raft is netted.
RECORDS FOR 2021
. . . in reverse chronological order . . .
MONDAY FEBRUARY 1 – 2021
Pair of Great Black-backed Gulls was back on Slipper Millpond which has been their nesting territory for the past 9 years.
However, the Slipper Millpond Association are determined to deter their nesting this year. A large net has been erected over the top of the south raft where the gulls have nested for the past 4 years. The net has holes large enough to allow access to Coot and other small birds, but not large gulls! A similar deterrent was tried in 2014, which the gulls found a way around, but this one looks more formidable!
From 2012 to 2016 the Great Black-backed Gulls nested on the large centre raft on the pond, but in 2017 they were ousted by a pair of Canada Geese. They finally settled down on the south raft where they have nested ever since with the Canada Geese pair on the centre raft. It will be interesting to see what happens this year if and when the Canadas return to nest on the centre raft. Today, while I was present one of the gulls got onto the small north raft, trying it out maybe? The gull was joined briefly by one of the swans so their could be some friction there too! The small north raft previously has housed nothing but the occasional Coot pair.
RECORDS FOR 2020
. . . in reverse chronological order . . .
THURSDAY JULY 23 – 2020
There was just one juvenile Great Black-backed Gull on the pond when I arrived at about 12 noon with no sign of the other youngster or the parents.
The juvenile flew off after a few minutes towards the harbour where I suspect the Great Black-backed Gull family are now located. All being well, the parents are likely to make occasional trips back to the pond to check out their breeding grounds, but twe look forward to seeing them again for their 10th year on the pond, though I fear the Slipper Millpond Association are planning measures to prevent further nesting of these magnificent birds due to their predatory behaviour!
FRIDAY JULY 3 – 2020
The Great Black-backed Gull family was on the centre raft – one adult and two juvenile. The adult flew up and half-heartedly ‘buzzed’ me as I was taking photos from the east side.
FRIDAY JUNE 5 – 2020
The two Great Black-backed Gull chicks were on the south raft along with one parent
SATURDAY MAY 23 – 2020
I could only see one Great Black-backed Gull chick standing up on the south raft when I visited Slipper Millpond this afternoon. Later I met Pam Phillips on the meadow and she assured me that she had definitely seen two chicks standing up on the raft yesterday. So, when I got home I had a close look at my photos which revealed a second chick partly hidden in the nest box on the raft. You can just make out the second chick in this photo.
While I was taking photos, I was briefly ‘buzzed’ by one of the parent gulls which flew low over my head scolding me. This is normal behaviour from the gulls when there are young in the nest. Here is a shot of the protecting adult perched on a chimney.
THURSDAY MAY 14 – 2020
The Great Black-backed Gulls nesting on the south raft have at least two chicks on the raft. There could be a third one hiding in the nest box, but I could only see two clearly.
Thursday 2 April 2020
Pair of Great Black-backed Gulls are nesting on the south raft on Slipper Millpond with the Canada Geese on the centre raft as in previous years.
Friday 13th March 2020
Great Black-backed Gulls are now back on Slipper Millpond for their 9th year of nesting on the rafts. When I arrived at about 12 noon both gulls were on the south raft where they have nested for the past 3 years. Prior to that they nested on the larger centre raft, but were ousted by a pair of Canada Geese which nested there. So far, I have not seen the Canada Geese on the pond, though there was a pair last week on Peter Pond being pursued by the resident cob swan.
While I was present what I assume was the female gull flew to the centre raft to collect a beak full of twigs. She flew off with them probably heading for the south raft to start a nest.
Video clip of Great Black-backed Gull collecting nest material . . . https://youtu.be/xjKeCN9h7lc
Monday 9th March 2020
I was intrigued to see the pair of Great Black-backed Gulls snoozing together on the centre raft on Slipper Millpond. This will be the pair that has nested on the pond for the last 8 years. For the past 3 years they have been ousted from their preferred nesting site on the centre raft by a pair of Canada Geese. It will be interesting to see if this happens again this year.