One group of seabirds that seems to be thriving is the urban roof-nesting gull. In Ireland, the most usual species is the Herring Gull, but there are also a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The former species is red listed because of dramatic declines at large coastal island colonies, perhaps associated with better management of rubbish dumps and from botulism.
Gulls have nested on house and warehouse roofs in fishing ports for some time, but by the year 2000 we had over 100 pairs nesting in Dublin City centre. It looks like these birds have flourished and now occur in many suburbs and greater numbers are breeding in the city centre. Herring Gulls now dominate the ponds in the St Stephen’s Green park, instead of Mallard and Tufted Ducks!
BirdWatch Ireland has been using social media and ‘crowd-sourcing’ via our e-zine to encourage the public to report roof-nesting gulls in urban centres and we will use this information to develop a strategy for a full survey that will be part of the forthcoming ‘Seabirds Count’ project in Britain and Ireland.
Stephen Newton, Birdwatch Ireland’s Senior Conservation Officer