Sunday, 10 August 2014

Poor Showing!

     What Last Sunday Tells Us       
Last Sunday saw the first of my weekly Autumn/Winter visits at Antrim Marina to observe ringed birds, especially the Black-headed Gulls from Adam McClure's Study.  I recorded 8 of these birds and a ringed Mute Swan.  I emailed my findings to Adam and he sent me updated files on the 8 BHGs.

     There are other birdwatchers who visit the Marina knowing about Adam's Study, but as it turns out, there were no other sightings submitted for any of the pre-mentioned BHGs.  Except for   2ABA   and    2ADJ  , I would presume the other 6 may possibly have bred elsewhere and have now returned to the Marina for the winter.    2ABA   and   2ADJ  , were both seen by me on random visits during June and July and may have bred on the nearby disused torpedo platform.  All in all, not a bad start to the season ahead.

     Now For Today       
As today's caption suggests, it was a poor turnout by the BHGs.  I arrived at 09.05 this morning, the rain falling steadily, temperature 13°C and not even a breeze.  Only 23 BHGs were present and 6 of these were juveniles.  At no time did the total go over the 30 mark and for large periods of time, there were no gulls present at all.  I recorded 4 of Adam's gulls by 09.24 and had to wait till 10.38 before I got a fifth one.  By 13.00 - my departure time - not another ringed gull was recorded.  I stayed on for a few minutes more as a pair of Mute Swans arrived by the slipway and I was hoping they would exit the water, but they didn't.  On leaving, I discovered around 50 BHGs on the grass behind the cafe.  Some were lying down and others standing, but I recorded a 6th ringed BHG, as well as two I had seen earlier.

  2AAT     EY37314 was seen on last week's visit.

  2AAD    EY37305 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.

  2AAH    EY37306 was originally ringed at Antrim Marina on 12/Dec/2012 as an adult male.  1st observed by me on 25/Sep/2013 and last seen on 23/Mar/2014 during my weekly visits.  I also saw this bird on a random summer visit on 22/Apr/2014.

  2ADJ    EY37302 was seen on last week's visit.

  2AAL    EY37309 was seen on last week's visit.

  2AAF    EY37319 was originally ringed at Antrim Marina on 12/Jan/2013 as an unsexed 1st winter (hatched in 2012).  1st observed by me on 25/Sep/2013 and last seen on 16/Mar/2014 during my weekly visits.  I also saw this bird on a random summer visit on 11/Jul/2014.

 The three new BHGs today takes the total to 11 individuals in two weeks.  Over the next few weeks, more of the gulls will be arriving for the winter and it shouldn't be too long before continental birds start to arrive in Northern Ireland.

Part of a group of 50 BHGs hiding from me on the grass behind the cafe.


     Other Birds       
I was talking to a young lady by the name of Caroline, who regularly visits the Lough and she noticed me taking photos of the Mute Swans and their two cygnets last Sunday.  Apparently they have lost one of their youngsters in the last week or two, as they did have 3 young.  The small female Mute Swan from last Sunday (Z91984) was present throughout my visit and another pair joined her later on.  A line of 11 Mute Swans swam past the entrance of the Marina from South to North, but never thought on paying me a visit.

Every now and again, Common Terns could be seen and heard on the Lough.  A Cormorant could be seen from time to time diving for fish at the entrance of the Marina.  Swallows and House Martins were fly-catching along the trees, the flies obviously trying to avoid the rain.  Only the one Herring Gull about today.  Very few people arrived to feed the ducks, but Rooks, Jackdaws and Magpies were always about to grab their share.  Wood Pigeons could be seen darting into the trees, they would still be breeding at this time of the year.  A pair of Grey Wagtails with three juveniles, put in a quick appearance.