Audouin’s Gull shows worrying trend in Cyprus

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Breeding numbers of the rare Audouin’s Gull Larus audouinii show a downward trend, as demonstrated by an analysis of nine years of count data from the gull’s only Cyprus colony, at the Kleides islets off the tip of the Karpasia peninsula. Results of boat surveys carried out by BirdLife Cyprus in cooperation with the Turkish Cypriot Bird protection Society Kuşkor every May from 2007 to 2015 were published in the latest issue of Sandgrouse journal (38(I) 2016).

A simple comparison of data from the early survey period (2007–2009) with data from the late survey period (2013–2015), suggests a drop in average number of breeding pairs of L. audouinii of around 37%. This raises concerns and highlights the need for continued monitoring of the only breeding colony in Cyprus, which is also the Gull’s easternmost global colony. Disturbance by anglers and boat users and competition from Yellow-legged Gulls Larus michahellis are identified as possible threats to the Kleides colony. It is worth noting that numbers of L.michahellis also show a downward trend at Kleides over the same period.

In 2012 and 2013, L. audouinii was recorded breeding at Lefkoniso rock, 17 km away from the Kleides colony. This was the first known expansion in breeding range for the species in Cyprus, but may have been temporary, as no breeding evidence was found at Lefkoniso in 2014 or 2015.

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