North West England Gull Project


An intensive four-day expedition to all our main sites in early July, resulted in over 500 gull chicks being ringed, including our first Great Black-backed Gulls for this project.

Welcome to the website of the Northwest Gulls project. Here you can find details of the work we are doing to study the breeding populations of large gulls in northwest England.

Recovery maps are shown for Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and there is a form for submission of re-sightings.


The North West England Gull Project project is designed to monitor the health of Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull populations across North West England, by assessing survival and productivity. Each gull fledgling is first identified (based on the inner flight feathers). A BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) metal ring is fitted around the right leg, and a larger colour ring attached to the left leg. The colour rings are designed to be read in the field without having to recapture the bird. This project uses green color rings with a white inscription, read upwards, starting N: followed by 3 alpha-numeric characters (e.g. N:00A).

Colour Ring

Colour ringing will help to answer questions about their movements and whether there is interchange between colonies.

The project opetrates across five sites:

  • Bowland Fells – a moorland site
  • Ribble Estuary – a National Nature Reserve on area of saltmarsh
  • Barrow Gas Terminal – an industrial site in Cumbria
  • Rockcliffe Marsh – a saltmarsh site in Cumbria on the upper reaches of the Solway
  • South Walney – a nature reserve and SSSI on the southern end of Walney Island off the coast of Barrow-in-Furness


The group operates with the  support  of Natural England for funding the rings and colour rings.

We are grateful to all the landowners that allow access, these are: Abbeystead Estate and United Utilities for access to Bowland Fells; Cumbria Wildlife Trust for South Walney and Rockcliffe Marshes, Spirit Energy Ltd for Barrow Gas Terminal, and Natural England for access to Ribble Estuary NNR

Header images on this website are licensed under the Creative Commons license by the photographers


We are not the only group in the northwest studying gulls. A project run by the Waterbird Colour Marking Group is colour ringing Black-headed Gulls, using blue colour rings with a white inscription. The groiup is also colour ringing Barnacle, Canada and Greylag Geese and Shelduck and Coot. You can report sightings of these birds at their website:

Here are links to other related websites:

If you know of a website that we have missed, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Bird ringing in Britain is licensed and coordinated by The British Trust for Ornithology. Bird ringing in Europe is coordinated by EURING.

A catalogue of colour ringing projects throughout Europe is voluntarily maintained by Dirk Raes at European colour-ring Birding.

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