Every gannet on Bass Rock that has been tracked with a GPS logger over the last 15 years has been fitted with two identification rings. A small metal BTO ring with a long identification number and a larger plastic colour ring with a unique four digit code. The metal rings are extremely difficult to read in the field but the colour rings are much easier, allowing us to identify which individuals are back without re-catching them.
You can read more about the reasons for ringing and colour ringing on the BTO’s site here.
The purpose of our first two trips over to Bass this season were to identify which birds are back, where they have established their territories and whether they are breeding or not. For Beckie Lakin, an MSc student studying Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of Leeds, this will add to the long term dataset on survival of breeding adults which she will use to look into the relationships between breeding success, foraging behaviour and survival. For me, it has given me a chance to see which of the birds tagged last year are back and what stage their breeding attempts are at in order to plan the first trip out to fit the GPS loggers and altimeters.
If you ever spot a seabird with a colour ring on it then it would be really fantastic if you could report it. The BTO has a reporting form here for any species and of course if you see a gannet with a colour ring then I would love to hear from you!