Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Millisle Hotspot...

Health problems continue to dominate my life at the moment.  With no further problems with my left foot, when a wooden pallet fell on it, on the 17th March, and the prolonged bout of the cold or flu, which lasted just over 4 weeks, I have now, had to take time off work, due to another case of suspected Tendonitius in my left shoulder.  I had the same problem three years ago, which kept me off work for two weeks.

After a week of anti-inflammatories, my doctor scanned my shoulder on Saturday 16th June, and found no serious damage to the tendon or muscles.  Although still slightly sore, I now start two weeks holidays, which had been booked earlier in the year.  This was to co-inside, with the ringing of Common Gull chicks on Rathlin Island.  The first of several visits, was planned for Monday 18th June.


As can be understood, very little has been done birding wise and even my garden is suffering from a lack of attention.  Hopefully, I can get a little bit of everything done over the next couple of weeks, which will culminate in my first ever visit to the Copeland Islands.

I'm booked in for a weekend at the Observatory on Copeland, going on Friday 29th June and returning on the Sunday.  It might be a bit late to colour-ring any Common Gull chicks, but perhaps I can locate a few late youngsters.  I had hoped for a weekend, beginning on the 22nd June, but a duty officer for the Observatory, could not be got.  Even so, when I do get out there, I intend to spend quite a while locating and reading 'colour-rings'.  As can be read below, first re-sightings of 'colour-ringed' Common Gulls, is a possibility.

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      Saturday 9th June 2018       
Although off sick from work since Wednesday, I was beginning to get fed up with sitting around the house.  So, today, I thought I'd head off down to Waterfoot, Carnlough and Glenarm, for a couple of hours.

Starting off at Red Bay Pier, Waterfoot, I checked the short stretch of coast, leading to the boat club, at Cushendall.  During my last visit here back on May 20th, I recorded 4 pairs of Oystercatchers - finding two nests, each containing three eggs.  A Ringed Plovers nest, containing two eggs was found, but I reckoned three pairs were holding territory.  A Common Gull nest, containing three eggs, was easily spotted, with the female sitting tight.  Two other nests were also found, but both were empty.

During today's visit, the Ringed Plover nest had failed, but another nest close by, containing four eggs, was possibly a replacement clutch.  Although alarm calling, no eggs or chicks were found belonging to the other two pairs.

The Common Gull nest, now contained three small chicks.  The other two empty nests, found on my previous visit, had a single egg in one and the female was sitting tight on the other.

I was unable to check for chicks, at one of the Oystercatcher nests which contained three eggs.  A man, along with  his Terrier dog, potted about the rocks where the birds were nesting, for well over an hour and I hadn't the time to wait on his departure.  The second nest that had three eggs, now had three small chicks wandering about.  Another two chicks, were spotted with a third pair and though both adults from the fourth pair were alarm calling, no eggs or chicks were located.

I'll return in 10 to 14 days time,  to try and find all the Oystercatcher chicks, hoping to get a few ringed with 'metals'.  If the first Common Gull chicks are large enough, I'll 'colour-ring' them as well.  A pair of Black Guillemots, are once again nesting in a hole, at Red Bay Pier.  They failed last year for some reason, but raised a single chick the year before.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this one, hoping to ring a chick or two in the coming weeks.

Young Oystercatcher  -  Between the Villages of Waterfoot and Cushendall, Co. Antrim  (09 Jun 2018)

Moving on to Carnlough Bay, the tide was now well out.  There was quite a number of Common and Black-headed Gulls about, these mainly being immatures which hatched out last summer.  Scoping the birds from a distance, I spotted an immature Common Gull, with a 'Blue Darvic'.  I knew straight away, I had found a bird that I ringed last year.

With the tide so far out, I cautiously edged my way out, so as not to scare the gulls off.  Daring to go no closer, I zoomed in with my camera as best as I could and just about managed to capture the code -   2BBF   2BBF , was the last young gull that I ringed on Rathlin Island, on the 24th June 2017, at Arkill Bay.  It gave me great pleasure, spotting a bird that I've had my hands on.  Carnlough, is situated just 35 kms / 21 miles SSE of Rathlin.

   2BBF , is the fourth of 36 young Common Gulls, 'colour-ringed' last summer on Rathlin, to have been spotted.  Two were discovered at Dundrum in County Down and the third, was spotted at Tralee Bay, in County Kerry.  As stated previously, if two thirds, failed to survive through their first winter, there should at least be, around 12 that are still living.  Ok folks - there are eight more to look for!

Common Gull  -    2BBF   -  Carnlough Bay, Co. Antrim  (09 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, at Arkill Bay, Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim, on the 24th June 2017)

Finishing off at Glenarm Harbour, I sat waiting to see if I could re-sight a 'colour-ringed' Black Guillemot, which I've recorded here over the last three summers.  There was not much activity with the Guillemots, which suggests that any chicks present, are still quite small.  With as many as thirty pairs, nesting in the harbour walls, there should be a lot more activity, once chicks are large enough to remain unattended.

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      Sunday 10th June 2018       
Today, I popped back down to the Wetland Centre at Castle Espie.  Having recorded a number of 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, during my previous two visits, on May 13th and 27th, what a difference two weeks has made, as far as the nesting gulls are concerned.  For some reason or another, many nests had failed since I was here last.

Accompanied by my sister Heather, we spent several hours on site, only to record one new 'colour-ringed' BHG, along with eight re-sightings of birds recorded over my previous two visits.  There were even fewer none breeding birds on the lagoon, which can be observed from the hide.  None of the foreign ringed birds, spotted on my last visit, were present.  I had hoped the 'Med Gull', from Poland, would still be on site, as I was missing the last letter or number on it's 'colour-ring'.

The eight re-sightings were,   2CAJ ,   2AHF ,   2CBS ,   2AKT ,   2CAD ,   2AHJ ,   2BKD   and   2APT .  I've informed Adam, about my new sighting -   2BXJ , but as yet, he is still to respond about it or the birds recorded on my last visit.

This was my sister's first ever visit to Castle Espie and she was very impressed with the site and its birds.  Heather, now wants to come back on my next visit.   

Black-headed Gull  -    2BXJ   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (10 June 2018)
(Waiting on Ringing Details)

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      From Derek Polley       
Lately, I received an email from Derek Polley.  He had been 'sitting' on a Black-tailed Godwit, sighting since the 3rd May, but could not tie down it's origin.  Asking if I could help, I was not sure either, even after checking a 'Ringing Guide', which was produced in 2016.

I resorted to contacting Richard du Feu, who is very knowledgeable, when it comes to 'colour-ringed' Waders.  He in turn, contacted Dr. Jenny Gill, who responded, saying it was one of her birds.

It was ringed, as an un-sexed adult, on the 13th August 2010, at Holbeach, on The Wash Estuary, Lincolnshire, England.  Since then there have been many re-sightings, culminating in the birds first sighting anywhere in Ireland, when Derek took a photo, at the RSPB's Window on Wildlife Reserve in Belfast.

Previous sightings were at :- Frieston Shore, Lincolnshie, England (Sep 2010), Snettisham, Norfolk, England (Apr 2011), Frodsham Marsh, Cheshire, England (Jul 2012), Carr Lane Pools, Merseyside, England (Aug 2012), Humber Estuary, Lincolnshire, England (Sep 2012), GrimsstaĆ°ir, Iceland (Jul 2013), Filey Dams Nature Reserve, North Yorkshire, England (Aug 2013), Alde Estuary, Suffolk, England (Aug 2014), Burton Mere Wetland, Cheshire, England (Aug 2017) and finally, Belfast, Northern Ireland (May 2018).

My sincere thanks goes to Derek, for allowing me to share his sighting of the well travelled Godwit and for using his photo.

Colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit  -  RSPB's WoW Reserve, Belfast Harbour Estate  (03 May 2018)
(Ringed as a Adult, on the 13th August 2010, at Holbeach, The Wash Estuary, Lincolnshire, England)
(Photo Courtesy of Derek Polley)

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      Saturday 16th June 2018       
It has been quite a while since my last visit to Millisle, in County Down.  Known as a 'hotspot' for Common Gull sightings, my previous couple of visits there were very disappointing.  However, what a 'bumper' day, I had there today.

Out of 12 'ringed' gulls whose rings I tried to read, I had one 'partial' metal, 3 confirmed 'metals' and 8 confirmed 'colour-ringed' birds.  On top of those, there were at least a dozen Common Gulls, whose 'metal-rings', were beyond the reach of my camera.  As can be guessed, Common Gulls, were numerous, which led to 7 'colour-rings' and 2 'metals', being read.  Of these, three were new sightings, being 2 'coloured' and 1 'metal'.

Below, I'll run through with the Common Gulls first, in colour code and then in 'metal' order.  Every gull listed, were ringed as, either chicks or adults, on the nearby Copeland Islands.  

  2ACA , was ringed as a breeding adult, on the 14th May 2010.  Prior to today,   2ACA , has been recorded on 14 occasions, with all previous sightings have been recorded in the Millisle area, where I last spotted the gull on the 14th July 2017.  The duration, up to today's sighting is now 8 years, 1 month and 2 days.

Common Gull  -    2ACA   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Breeding Adult, on the 14th May 2010, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

  2ACV , is a seldom recorded Common Gull.  It is known to winter at Broadmeadows, Swords, Co. Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland.  Fellow 'Ring Reader', Graham Prole, has recorded the gull on three occasions there - (Sep 2013), (Feb 2016) and (Jan 2018), which was it's last sighting until today.  The only other record of   2ACV , was made on the 14th July 2017, when I saw the bird for the first time ever.  The duration since being ringed, is now 8 years and 19 days.

Common Gull  -    2ACV   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 18 Jun 2012, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

  2ADX , is an ever present gull at Millisle, with a long history of re-sightings on site.  Ringed as a chick, on the 1st June 2010, it's one of those birds, thats always in your face.  Being so used, to being fed by members of the public, it has no fear of people and readily runs in for a share of the spoils.  The duration since being ringed, is now 8 years and 15 days.

Common Gull  -    2ADX   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 1st June 2010, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

  2ANA , was one of two new 'colour-ringed' Common Gulls, recorded to day.  It was ringed by Shane Wolsey, on the 27th June 2014, which was the final year of Shane's Study on Copeland.  My sighting today, was the first record since being ringed and makes me wonder, where has it been.  The duration since being ringed, is 3 years, 11 months and 20 days.

As can be seen, the condition of the ring is already showing signs of heavy deterioration, as can be witnessed in some of the other photos.  I'm wondering, if these birds could be recaptured at some point in the near future, and fitted with a replacement ring.

Common Gull  -    2ANA   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 27th June 2014, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

  2ANJ , is another gull, that apparently is slipping below the 'radar'.  My sighting today, is only the sixth record of the gull, since being ringed as a chick, on the 11th June 2012.  Adam McClure, has also recorded   2ANJ , twice in 2013 (Jul & Oct).  My previous sightings were made in 2016, when I spotted the gull, three months in a row (Jul, Aug & Sep).  All sightings have been recorded at Millisle and the duration is now 6 years and 5 days.

Common Gull  -    2ANJ   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 11th June 2012, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

Talking about, 'slipping under the radar', the sighting of  Common Gull -   2AST , was the first ever, since it was ringed as a chick, on the 18th June 2012.  With the duration being, 5 years, 11 months and 29 days, somehow, this gull has evaded the birdwatchers.  Along with the sighting of   2ANA , mentioned above, it suggests that gulls from Shane's period of ringing (2009 to 2014), are still out there waiting to be discovered.

Common Gull  -    2AST   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 18th June 2012, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

  2BBC , like   2ADX , mentioned above, is another gull that is an ever present, at Millisle.  With a long history of re-sightings there, it was ringed as a chick, on the 23rd June 2009, the duration now being 8 years, 11 months and 24 days.

Common Gull  -    2BBC   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2016)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 23rd June 2010, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

With over a dozen 'metal-ringed' Common Gulls about, I managed to capture the numbers for two of these.  The first -   EW51760 , was also ringed a chick, on the 23rd June 2009 - the same date as   2BBC , above.  As it was not fitted with a colour-ring, the chick must have been too small, at the time of ringing, to receive a 'Darvic Ring'.    EW71760 , was a new sighting for me, and after checking the BTO's 'DemOn Ringing Database', it also turned out to be the gulls first ever re-sighting.  The duration, as with   2BBC , is now 8 years, 11 months and 24 days.

Common Gull  -    EW51760   (Upside-down Ring)  -  Millisle, Co. Down
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 23rd June 2009, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

The second 'metal-ringed' Common Gull, was the re-sighting of   EX38230 .  By the way, in which it was holding it's crippled left foot, I knew straight away, I had recorded this bird on a few previous occasions.  Ringed as a chick, on the 2nd June 2010, it only stayed with me for about 30 seconds and then flew off.  I still managed a couple of photos of it's ring and despite capturing a 'partial number', the 230, was all I needed to confirm the gull.

The duration, since being ringed, is now 8 years and 14 days, and today's sighting is my fifth record of the gull at Millisle.

Common Gull  -    EX38230   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 2nd June 2010, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

A very nervy 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gull, landed briefly, before taking off again.  Only seven Black-headed gulls appeared throughout my visit to Millisle, but the 'metal-ringed' bird never re-appeared.  I managed two photos, one showing the gull and the other a zoomed in photo of the ring.

All I got of the code was -   *W48*** .  As it was a BTO ring, the missing first letter hidden by the seaweed, would be an ' E '.  On the 23rd December 2017, I recorded a BHG, here, ringed   EW48510 .  Today's sighting, might possibly have been, of the same bird.

Black-headed Gull  -    EW48***   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)

Herring Gull -   GA00153  (Upside-down ring), is another ever present on the seafront car park at Millisle.  It's favourite spot, is on the seawall, right next to a concrete slipway.  Every time, I go to Millisle, I see the gull, but most of the time, I don't need to confirm the ring number, I ignore it instead.  Today, I took a single photo - one each of the gull and ring.  Seeing '  53 ', was all I needed to know, to confirm my latest sighting.

  GA00153 , was mistakenly ringed as a Lesser Black-backed Gull chick, on the 22nd June 2005.  The duration, is now, 12 years, 11 months and 25 days.

Herring Gull  -    GA00153   (Upside-down Ring)  -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 22nd June 2005, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

Another Herring Gull, was spotted a good distance away from me, on Millisle beach.  Zooming in with my camera, I managed two photos, when a dog walker came along and scared the gull off.  The first photo, shows a slightly blurred picture of   1E:W , the second, a much clearer showing of it's ring.

This was my second sighting of   1E:W , having initially spotted it on the 12th March 2016, which at the time, was it's first ever sighting.  Marc Ruddock, saw the gull, on the 28th February 2017, at Donaghadee, just up the coast from Millisle.

  1E:W , is from a relatively new study, being carried out on the nearby Copeland Islands.  Ringed as an un-sexed adult (possibly breeding), on the 6th May 2015, the duration is now, 3 years, 1 month and 10 days.

Herring Gull  -    1E:W   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as an Adult, on the 6th May 2015, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

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