Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Normality Resumed...


      Antrim Marina - Monday 14th January 2019       
Having not got out on Saturday, I decided to use Sunday, to cover the coast from Larne, finishing off at Portrush.  This meant, my weekly visit to Antrim Marina, was undertaken today.

Pulling up to the barrier, leading to the front car park at the Marina, it was so refreshing to see the gulls sitting about the area of the low wooden jetty.  The dredging company which were here for several weeks, had now gone, their next destination I understand, is Boston in Lincolnshire, England.

I knew from a conversation with one of the employees, that the area would be completely cleared of their equipment by Friday past.  Whilst they were working here, plus the construction of the new cafe, it had been frustratingly awkward to try and read rings on the gulls.  With half of the Marina available again, the gulls were now enjoying some normality, and so was I.

Arriving at 9.15am, it was quite chilly in the light breeze, with the temperature reading 6°C, only rising by half of a degree, just before my departure at 12.15.  The sun tried to shine through a fairly cloudy sky, with pockets of blue showing.

I reckoned that a maximum number of around 200 Black-headed Gulls, were present around 11am, and I had a fairly good session of 'Ring Reading'.  It's still early yet, as the gulls have had just a couple of days to get used to having their Marina back, but I reckon numbers will increase further, now that we have peace and quite, albeit from the occasional loud bang from the construction site.

I was on the lookout for 36 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, 30 of which were ringed over past winters, and 6 birds caught and ringed this winter.  I had considered trying to catch one or two new birds today, but chose not to, just to let them resettle and get used to being around people again.

By the time of my departure, I had re-sighted 27 'colour-rings', with 9 absentees.  Even at their maximum numbers, I was quite confident, the majority of legs were checked.  Gulls, were still clearly arriving, at the same time, when I was considering to call it a day.

One gull, which I had been especially watching for all morning, was the juvenile Danish bird spotted last week -   VA4235 .  I was delighted to record it at midday, though it was not as hungry, as when I saw it last week.  It did however, get a share of the bread which I threw out.  I'm hoping it will settle down here for the next couple of weeks, as I'd love to 'colour-ring' it if I can catch it.

My final two sightings of the day was   2CSF , at 12.05 and   2AAN , at 12.10.    2CSF , was ringed here last winter, and was spotted in Northern Iceland, on the 12th July 2018.  I consider   2ANN , as being a non-resident, which arrives back to the Marina, in mid to late July each year.

I keep a separate spreadsheet solely for my BHG sightings at Antrim Marina, and having a look at it, I've noticed that one gull which I ringed here last winter, has not been seen since the 29th October 2018.    2CSS , was recorded on five occasions this winter,  the first sighting being on the 13th August, but I make it eleven weeks now, since it's last appearance.  Hopefully, it will turn up again soon.

Three other Black-headed Gulls, should have returned weeks ago, but I have yet to record them, due to the building and dredging work.  These are   2AFD , which should have returned in late October, or early November,   2CSC , which was ringed here last winter, and I guessed would return in November, and   2BRC , an occasional winter visitor, ringed here in January 2015.    2AFD , has been sighted in the past in Latvia, so likely breeds there.  With normality resumed, hopefully I will record these birds over the next couple of weeks.

Another Black-headed Gull, this one bearing an upside-down 'metal-ring', is also due to appear.  I had failed to read the whole ring number, on the two previous occasions when it has appeared here.  On the 5th March 2017, I read   E****73 , and on the 5th February 2018, I read   E*85673 .  All I need, is that 2nd letter, to confirm the whole number, so here's hoping.  I reckon, this gull just passes through the Marina en-route to it's breeding site.

It does not make things easier, each time   2ABL   appears.    2ABL , managed to loose it's 'colour-ring' some time ago, so on each occasion when a 'metal' is spotted, I'm chasing after the ring number.  A 'metal', was spotted at 11.45 this morning, but having read the full 'metal' number through my telescope -   EY37326 , this was indeed   2ABL .

Below, are the first photos of   2CTB   and   2CTC , since they were caught and ringed on Christmas Eve 2018.  I've also added another photo,taken today, of the Danish juvenile, which was first spotted here last week.


Colour-Ringed Black-headed Gulls at Antrim Marina, on Monday 14th January 2019
 2ABK   2AAR   2CTB   2CSX   2ABS   2CTC   2BRA   2AAT   2CSA 
 2AAK   2CSJ   2CJT   T35J   2CSR   2CSB   2AAB   2CSK   2CSL 
 2AAP   2AAA   2ABN   2CSH   2ACV   2ADV   2ABL   2CSF   2AAN 


Today's Absentees
 2ADJ   2ABF   2AAV   2BRD   2ANS   2CSS   2CSV   2CTA   2CTD 


Black-headed Gull  -    2CTB   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (14 Jan 2019)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 24th December 2018, at Antrim Marina)

Juvenile Black-headed Gull  -    2CTC   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (14 Jan 2019)
(Ringed as a 1st Winter Bird, on the 24th December 2018, at Antrim Marina)

Juvenile Black-headed Gull  -  Denmark    VA4235   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (14 Jan 2019)
(Still Waiting on the Ringing Details)

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
Barring the gulls, the first of the other birds to be noted each week, are the swans.  Just three adult Mute Swans were present on my arrival, one of these being   W34158 .  Another pair of birds, arrived from the Lough, at 10.28, without incident, but the pair which also came in from the Lough, at 11.32, were quickly chased back out again.

Mallard numbers, are still on the low side, with just two birds present on my arrival.  Numbers, increased slowly, until a high of 49 birds were counted at 11am.  After this time, numbers started to drop of again.

I'm especially watching out for Common Gulls now, in the hope that the Finnish bird appears.  The first two Common Gulls, arrived together at 09.38 - an adult, and a juvenile.  At 09.50, a second adult, along with a second juvenile appeared.  Both juveniles, remained at the Marina throughout my visit, and quite often came close to my car looking for a share of the bread.

A third adult, arrived in at 10.32, and I believe these were the same three birds, which would come and go, until I departed.  Hopefully, now that some peace and quiet has been restored here, more Common Gulls will visit, including the 'metal-rung', Finnish and Scottish birds.

The usual sub-adult Herring Gull, arrived at 9.45, remaining throughout my stay.

Other species recorded were :- 3 Hooded Crows, 8 Jackdaws and the pair of Pied Wagtails.

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      Sunday 13th January 2019       
Having not got out yesterday, I decided to make a day of it today, starting at Glynn, just south of Larne, and moving up around the County Antrim coast, with a proposed finish at Portrush.  However, as time wore on, the weather conditions deteriorated very badly, and I had to call it a day, once I reached Waterfoot.

By this time, the wind was blowing a gale, along with heavy squally showers.  Later on, on the Northern Ireland News, they reported that two men were killed in the Mourne Mountains in County Down, both apparently blown off crags.  A third man, was rescued with a broken ankle, which just highlights, how severe conditions had become.

Just two rings were spotted, before I had to give up for the day, both being re-sightings of birds recorded previously.  The first, was an Oystercatcher at Glynn, on Larne Lough.  Ringed Lime over White, on the left leg, and White (EA), on the right leg, I first recorded this bird just recently, on the 31st December 2018 (PDF).  Re-sightings, are important, so as to establish, whether birds are winter residents to a particular site, or just perhaps passing through.

The shoreline here at Glynn, is often a good site, for feeding gulls and waders, but today, only a handful of birds were on the mudflats.    

Oystercatcher  -  LW-W(EA)  -  Glynn, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim  (13 Jan 2019)
(Ringed as a Breeding Adult, on the 19th May 2017, at  AuĂ°sholt, Southern Iceland)

Moving on to Sandy Bay, in Larne, there were around 50 Black-headed Gulls present.  Among these, was   2ABH , from Adam's NI BHG Study.  This gull was caught and ringed here, on the 21st January 2013, as an adult male.  It has a long list of winter re-sightings at Sandy Bay, but where it breeds at, is not known.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ABH   -  Sandy Bay, Larne, Co. Antrim  (13 Jan 2019)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 21st January 2013, at Sandy Bay)

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