When the ‘Birds of Sussex’ (1996) was published there had been no Sussex records of nesting by this species. It was recorded breeding at Bulverhythe shortly after and also at Old Hastings and at Rye harbour. Single pairs, all nesting on rooftops. The larger numbers wintering in Sussex have been shown to be of Norwegian origin or from elsewhere in Scandinavia, Denmark and from Great Ainov Island, Former USSR. I think that many of the birds at Dungeness have also been recorded as having been ringed in Norway.
However, there is a British and French breeding population and an adult, thought to be the female of a pair at the Old Town boating lake has been recorded here in recent years. I received the details from the Normandy Ornithological Group today. The bird was ringed as a chick at Le Havre in 2008, so there is a clear connection between birds colonising Sussex and those breeding on the French coast.
Below the photographs is a link to the Normandy Ornithological Group file for this bird. C99.
The wintering birds favour the top and middle sections of the harbour wall clearly demarcated from the Herring gulls that perch on the lower section.
There is a noticeable passage of this gull up-Channel from earliest spring.
Winter tracks and trails of birds and Man. The small birds often very active with the cold air, Pied wagtails fluttering and leaping above the close-cropped grasslands. Stonechats and Robins scurrying from posts and brambles, olive-grey and white Song thrushes flying out of tracts of turnips like thrown clods of earth. Snipe rasping and shivering but dropping down again too soon from the frosty air. A close crowd of Chaffinches, stubble-browsing, flushing into hedgerow trees at the approach of a sleek blue and russet Sparrowhawk.
On the Levels twenty White-fronted geese. Hundreds of Wigeons in the grasses or on the placid blue sea. Scurrying Dunlins, Grey plovers and Ruff among the dried frail stems of old grasses. The birds hurrying, stretching, squabbling and lunging.