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Whoosh Netting Herring gulls in Winter-Advice Needed!!

Rebecca lakin, February 27, 2018
 

Hi,

I am looking for some advice on the best methods to catch adult Herring gulls using whoosh nets over the winter months. I have been baiting an area between two poles and a fake net (to mimic the whoosh nets) for a few weeks and I have already changed sites twice. Some days I get good numbers down feeding (40-50 gulls) but other days they are so wary and despite remaining interested in the food source, they won't come near. This is making it very difficult to pick a date to attempt whoosh netting and ideally we would like to catch as soon as possible.

Any advice on the best methods/techniques/best bait to use etc. to get gulls coming down regularly would be really appreciated! This is part of my PhD research and we are hoping to colour ring some birds prior to the breeding season.

Thank you! Rebecca

Comments ( 1 )

Luke Edwyn Marsh

Luke Edwyn Marsh

Hey Rebecca, I have been having similar problems. Truth is, I dont think there is a technique that works 'best'. In my experience its about having a range of trapping techniques and applying them in their right circumstances. I used a net gun (gas powered) and a spring trap, recently moved onto whoosh nets - but I think whoosh nets are very site limited. Gulls aren't stupid, and if one is edgy about something the rest seem to pick up on that and become trap-shy. Bait wise; the cues the gulls are picking up on make it really hard to match to trap sites. A drop trap, which is basically a meshed square that is open, and then after a period of baiting is then wired so that only a small area at the top is the only entry point into the square works really well. You bait for a good period before making it so the birds can get in but not out - similar to a nest trap but downwards entry - but if your study is to do with foraging/diet then your marked individuals are compromised. However, drop traps are a good, efficient, passive method and relatively straight forward. And, the birds cue off of the constant availability of the bait rather that an 'one time' event. And, as the birds cue to other gulls foraging in places, once trapped, the gulls act as bait for other birds. Another alternative is a simpler design to the whoosh net. It is much like a goal post net that is flicked over the gulls. But, this has many of the limitations of whoosh nets. It has been used on beaches however, as it doesn't require the fixing that whoosh nets require - which does increase your sampling site range and therefore access to different birds. Lastly, there is the leg-noose. I dont use it, and dont fully agree with the ethics of such a invasive approach, but it is very effective. Love to hear more details on what you are doing, especially as I catch relatively low numbers, so effort is a big problem for me (hence why I'm trying whoosh nets), but I'm catching in urban areas mostly, so have many limitations in access to areas to catch as well as methods (hench the current net gun and spring trap that are mobile and optimistic in their approach). Good luck, - Luke