Sunday, 3 August 2014

..... And Here We Go!


It's 8.55am and what a lovely morning to restart my weekly visits to Antrim Marina.  The temperature is reading 15°C and the sun is shining, though there is a slight nip in the breeze coming off the Lough.  Around 150 Black-headed Gulls are settled along the Marina - just waiting for me to view their legs!  I estimate that 10 to 15% of these are juveniles, hatched during the summer and now independent from their parents.  Also, I noticed, for the first time ever on visiting here, there's not one swan to be seen.

 Juvenile Black-headed Gulls at Antrim Marina,  Co. Antrim  (03 Aug 2014)

I set to work scanning with the binoculars and telescope for ringed gulls, with 6 of these being observed by 9.14, then disaster strikes!  A coach load of Chinese tourists arrives and they piled out in their droves and rush down to start taking photos, scaring off the gulls in the process.  Gradually, the gulls started to come back in and I recorded another 2 with rings at 10.09 and 10.45.  Unfortunately for me, trainee canoeists arrived about 11.30 and the gulls never settled after that.

The 8 BHGs with Orange Darvic rings that I did record, all belonged to Adam McClure's Study:-

   2ADJ     EY37302 was originally ringed at Antrim Marina on 12/Nov/2012 as an adult male.  1st observed by me on 22/Sep/2013 and last seen on 23/Mar/2014 during my weekly visits.  I also saw this bird on random summer visits on 08/Jun and 11/Jul 2014.

   2AAT     EY37314 was originally ringed at Antrim Marina on 21/Dec/2012 as an adult male.  1st observed by me on 21/Sep/2013 and last seen on 23/Mar/2013 during my weekly visits.

   2AAS     EY37313 was originally ringed at Antrim Marina on 21/Dec/2012 as an adult female.  1st observed by me on 13/Oct/2013 and last seen on 02/Mar/2014 during my weekly visits.

  2ABA      EY37317 was originally ringed at Antrim Marina on 28/Dec/2012 as an adult male.  1st observed by me on 25/Sep/2013 and last seen on 09/Mar/2014.  I also saw this bird on a random summer visit on 11/Jul/2014.

  2AAC      EY37304 was originally ringed at Antrim Marina on 11/Dec/2012 as an unsexed adult.  1st observed by me on 22/Sep/2013 and last seen on 02/Mar/2014 during my weekly visits.

  2AAL      EY37309 was originally ringed at Antrim Marina on 21/Dec/2012 as an adult female.  1st observed by me on 25/Sep/2013 and last seen on 23/Feb/2014.  Unfortunately I noted on today's sighting that   2AAL    has lost its right eye and the socket is very wet looking, I hope its not infected.  Otherwise, this gull seems healthy.

  2ABF      EY37322 was originally ringed at Antrim Marina on 20/Jan/2013 as an adult male.  1st observed by me on 06/Oct/2013 and was last seen on 23/Mar/2014 during my weekly visits.  I also saw this bird on a random summer visit on 08/Jun/2014.

  2AAA      EY37301 was originally ringed at Antrim Marina on 12/Nov/2012 as an adult male.  1st observed by me on 22/Sep/2013 and was last seen on 23/Mar/2014 during my weekly visits.  I also saw this bird on a random visit on 22/Apr/2014.  This was the very first gull to be ringed in Adam's study.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ABF   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (03 Aug 2014)

The first Mute Swan appeared around 09.50 and it had a metal ring - Z91984.  I saw this bird many times last winter and it's a very small female.  She was originally ringed at this site on 6th September 2012 as a juvenile (hatched that summer), by Ken Perry, while working with trainee ringers.

 Mute Swan  -    Z91984   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (03 Aug 2014)

Another pair of Mute Swans arrived from up-river around 10.00, accompanied by two young cygnets.  Swans are normally early nester's, but judging by the size of these two youngsters, they must have bred slightly later than usual.  Neither of the adults were ringed.

Pair of Mute Swans, along with their cygnets  -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (03 Aug 2014)

Generally, it was fairly quite in the numbers of other species seen.  1 Common Tern on the Lough and a fly-over by a Grey Heron.  At the Marina, 1 pair of Herring Gull's, Hooded Crows, Rooks, Magpies, Jackdaws and Mallards were all taking advantage of the people feeding bread to the ducks.  A pair of Wood Pigeons fed on the grass.

The gulls stayed away because of the canoeists  -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (03 Aug 2014)

On my way home to Ballymena, I called by the Tesco Distribution Centre at the Kilbegs Business Park, to check if it is possible to scope the Lesser-backed Back Gull colony nesting on the roof.  I know these birds are being colour-ringed throughout Europe and can travel great distances.  However, the views from the car-park are very limited.  I encountered the little chap below running around, hope his parents know he's there, as he cannot fly yet and would be very vulnerable.


Young Lesser Black-backed Gull  -  Tesco Warehouse Car Park, Antrim  (03 Aug 2014)

Well, that's the first visit completed, more next week.

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