Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Mallard - A Result.

     ...and where have you been?       
You just never know what to expect from week to week at Antrim Marina.  I find it an amazing spot, as you just never know what will turn up next.  Last Sunday, it was the Mallard from County Monaghan, which for me 'was bird of the day'.  Today, I had another surprise.  One of Adam McClure's Black-headed Gull's has turned up.

Ringed - Orange 2ACV, I had reckoned it may have been an early casualty of last winter.  2ACV was ringed by Adam at the Marina on the 21/Oct/2013 as an unsexed 1st winter bird, (still sporting some its baby feathers).  Adam himself spotted this gull on the 29/10/2013 and I recorded it on 03/Nov/2013 and 10/Nov/2013 at the Marina.  The gulls know, the area is a good place to see out the winter, as people supply much food for the birds.  By the time I had completed my last weekly visit on 30/Mar/2014, I had not seen this one for a total of 20 weeks.  Now it is back as a sub-adult, makes you wonder where it has been and will it stay for very long this time.

BHG - Orange 2ACV on 03/Nov/2013 And Today 31/Aug/2014

On arrival at the Lough today, it was a pleasant 13°C, sunny and again a slight breeze.  I recorded 12 of Adam's study birds, 2ABL along with the above mentioned 2ACV, putting in their first appearances.  Last winter I recorded 30 BHGs carrying the Darvic rings and the 2 new sightings today takes the overall total to 18 of these 30 in my first 5 Sunday visits.  On the 3rd August past, I had mentioned that   2AAL   suffered the trauma of losing its right eye and that the socket area was very wet/weepy looking.  I had a good look at this bird today and the area around the eye has now dried up and is not looking too bad.

Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2AAL   2AAN   2ABK   2ABL   2ADJ   2AAH 
 2ACV   2AAP   2ABF   2AAA   2AAC   2AAT 

  2ACV     EY37355  -  See above article.

  2ABL     EY37326 was originally ringed at Antrim Marina on 23/Jan/2013 as an adult female.  1st observed by me on 29/Sep/2013 and last seen on 16/Mar/2014 during my weekly visits.  With no summer sightings, this gull may well have left the area to breed elsewhere.

Black-headed Gulls Absent Today
 2AAK   2AAD   2ABA   2AAF   2AAV   2AAS 


     Sunday's Mallard - A Result       
Last Sunday, I saw a Mallard with an unusual numbered ring.  After taking lots of photos, I successfully pieced together the whole number.  After reporting this bird online to the British Trust for Ornithology, I also sent emails to Jim Wells and Marc Ruddock about the ring.  Both of them suggested that this Mallard could be connected to Wild-fowling.  On Monday morning I had a further email from Jim.  It had dawned on him that the 00 353 was part of a phone code for the Republic of Ireland.

I left it to Jim to make contact and we indeed received a replyThis duck was released onto a lake near Glaslough in County Monaghan in June 2014, aged approximately 7 weeks, by the Tyholland and Glaslough Gun Club.  This club is one of fifteen other gun clubs that form the County Monaghan Regional Game Council, which released 1500 ducks into the wild.

I also informed the British Trust for Ornithology to let them know that we had the origins of this Mallard sorted.  Dorian Moss replied to me, much to say that the BTO were unaware of the scheme in County Monaghan and can now act on any future sightings/reports on these ducks.  Looks like everyone learnt a little from this one - a good result all round - I think!

Below are a few of the photos that I used to zoom in to obtain the ducks ring number and a copy of an email sent to Jim Wells from Dan Curley of the Glaslough Gun Club.

5 Photos of The Mallards Ring Number Zoomed In

From: Dan Curley <
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 2014
To: <Jim Wells
Subject: Re: The Antrim Marina mallard.


Yes  I  suppose  it  is  a  Scheme.  I  am  the  Secretary  of  Co  Monaghan  Regional  Game  Council.   16  of  our  Gun  Clubs  got  about  1500  Ducks   in  June.  The  Clubs  would  be  in  all  parts  of  Co  Monaghan.

This  one  was  in  a  batch  of  100  released  by  Tyholland  &  Glaslough  Gun  Club,  in  a  lake  near  Glaslough  village.

Last  Year,  some  of  the  Ducks  from  my  own  Clubs  were    also  on  lough  Neagh  near  Lurgan  (  they  would  have  travelled  25  miles  further  than  this  one  )

The  previous  Year   some  ducks  also  turned  up  in  Lough  Neagh  from  this  area  also.

We  have  been  releasing  Ducks  and  tagging  them,  for  about  12  Years  now,  usually  similar  numbers  to  above.

The  last  couple  of  Years,  there  seems  to   be  a  pattern  of  them  heading  to  lough  Neagh  (  early  in  the  Year  too  )

I  was  looking  at  the  pictures  of  the  Duck,  Gary  has  good  technology.

Thanks  very  much  for  contacting  me,  as  that's  the  reason  they  are  tagged  to  see  where  they  turn  up

Dan  Curley

Many Thanks to Dan and Jim in obtaining a quick result on this Mallard.  I shall be keeping and eye out for it now and any others that may show up.


      Mute Swan - W34158      
Dorian Moss from the BTO also supplied details for the above swan I saw last Sunday.  This is the first time I have seen this one since my initial sighting of it on the 23rd March 2014 - along with Mute Swan W34156 - during my penultimate weekly visit.  As it turns out, both of these swans were ringed at the Marina on 17th March 2014, six days before I recorded them.  I've probably looked at them all winter, when they did not have rings.  Not all the details for these birds have arrived yet, so I have no idea who the 'culprit' is that ringed them.  If whoever it is, reads this blog - send me a hello!  Going by the ring numbers, there may well be a '57' floating about somewhere.


     Their Heads Are Not Black!       
Over the last couple of weeks, I have had a number of people stopping with me, curious about what I'm doing.  Many, thought I was doing a count of the ducks and 'seagulls'.  On explaining to them, that I was actually looking for ringed Black-headed Gulls, some were surprised that the 'seagulls' had specific names and that these ones did not have 'Black Heads'.   I explained to them, that the gulls develop their black (actually - chocolate brown) heads for the start of the breeding season and moult out of them again after the season finishes.  Many of these people are also surprised to learn that some of the gulls, swans, etc., are ringed and I explained about Adam's study, leaving them much enlightened. 

Black-headed Gull - Orange 2AAR

Above are two photos of the same bird.  The first one taken on 22nd December 2013 shows the head outside of the breeding season and the second photo taken on the 9th March 2014 shows the black head going into the new breeding season.

     Other Birds       
Today was again very quite for other birds.  The usual crows - Magpies, Jackdaws, Hooded Crows and a Rook - trying to muscle in on the bread.  The juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull, put in the odd appearance from time to time and a single Herring Gull was always looking to plunder the ducks.  There were less Mallard about than last Sunday and the one from Glaslough, County Monaghan was nowhere to be seen.  A single female Grey Wagtail with one of its youngster's was the only other bird of note.  A total of six Mute Swans here today, with Z91983 and Z91984 being the only ones with rings.