|The Files Are In|
At the beginning of the week, Adam McClure sent me the updated files for gulls 2ABS and 2BJL . As suspected 2ABS which appeared for the first time last Sunday, had not been reported from anywhere, since I last recorded it on the 23rd March this year at the Marina. It therefore seems more than likely, that this gull had vacated the area and bred elsewhere and has now arrived back for the winter.
2BJL is the juvenile Black-headed Gull that I saw at the Doury Road Estate in Ballymena on Friday 5th September 2014. Knowing that Adam had ringed this year's chicks over three locations, I was hoping that this one had come from The Copeland Islands, just off the County Down coast. I had to settle for second best this time. It was ringed on the 19th June 2014 at the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust Centre at Castle Espie in County Down. Mine is the first sighting of this young gull. The WWT Centre at Castle Espie is roughly 54km (34 miles), South-East of Ballymena.
The Polish Ringing Group sent me an updated file for 'White T35J'. Again, as suspected, there have been no re-sightings of this one since I last saw it on the 16th February 2014. I reckoned, it had left the Marina early to return to Lithuania. Pity, that no-one has seen this gull over Europe during the Summer.
|Today's Black-headed Gulls|
On arrival today at 9.05am, the temperature was 14°C, cloudy and a light wind that at times felt chilly. Maybe, its just me feeling the chill, as I've been battling a 'head cold'. Very few Black-headed Gulls were present, numbering less than 40. I did note 4 Darvic-rung gulls by 9.20, when suddenly, they all took off in a panic. A Buzzard, appearing from the trees on the opposite side of the river, flew low over the Marina in the direction of the adjacent Golf Club.
Slowly, numbers started to build up to around 80 BHGs, when at 11.30, the canoeists appeared again. There were not as many as usual and I was glad to see them heading off up-river and out of sight. This meant that the gulls stayed in the area of the Marina and around 12.00 even more of these birds started to arrive. By now, quite a number of families had arrived to feed the ducks and swans and the gulls were not slow in getting into the mix.
The Lithuanian BHG - 'T35J' - was the last Darvic that I recorded today at 12.45, taking today's overall total to 14. There were no new BHGs seen today and my total still stands at 20 of last winter's total of 30 Darvic-rung BHGs. Two of today's re-sightings - 2AAF & 2AAS, had not been seen in three weeks.
As the weather is still fairly mild, many of the gulls will not be frequent visitors to the Marina. Quite a number of them are to be seen in grassy areas, where they could clearly be seen catching flies. Once the weather turns colder, the gulls will start to depend on food from people. For now, the mild weather looks set to continue.
Black-headed Gulls Present Today
Black-headed Gulls Absent Today
I had a thorough search through the Black-headed gulls to see if last Sunday's BTO metal-ringed bird E----76 was present, to try and obtain the whole of the number, but alas, it was not here today. Will try again next week.
|Three, Two, And Now Just One|
On my first visit to the Marina on the 3rd August, I featured a pair of Mute Swans with their two youngsters. The following week, while talking to a young lady 'Caroline', she informed me that these swans did have three chicks - just a couple of weeks before my first visit. This was the only pair of swans to produce young in the area this year.
Today, they appeared from upstream, this time accompanied by just one cygnet - another has been lost. Hopefully this last youngster will survive. It has grown very much larger in the last month, which will greatly improve its chances.
It is looking very likely that the Herring Gull that normally hangs around the Marina has gone. It is unusual for it to be absent and I assume the juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull has moved on as well. Mallard numbers were also noticeably reduced, with only 50 to 60 at maximum today, compared to around 100 during the last couple of weeks and the ringed Monaghan Mallard was definitely not present.
A total of 13 Mute Swans had appeared before I left the Marina at 1pm. I managed to entice some of these out of the water, but only three were ringed. These were the usual Z91984, Z91983 and W34158. Caroline has been worried about Z91984 over the last couple of weeks and I noticed today, that it would take bread from your hand, but for some reason would not eat it. Perhaps, this one is ill.
A juvenile Grey Heron stayed for a short time on the long jetty, but not close enough for me to get a photo. Other birds were the ususal crows - Hooded Crows, Magpies, Jackdaws and a single Rook. 1 Pied Wagtail and 1 Chaffinch were the only small birds to be seen. The Wood Pigeons are now flying in and out of a different area of trees across the river, so I presume their young are now on the wing. There was also the low flying Buzzard, as mentioned above.
Young Black-headed Gull Having A Rest Behind The Cafe
|An Evening Visit To Carnlough & Glenarm|
The weather in Northern Ireland this week has been so good, that you could be forgiven, if you thought it was July. Temperatures on a few days reached 25°C and you would not think that it is Autumn. I decided to go down to the coast and visit the villages of Carnlough and Glenarm to look for ringed birds. After checking on the tide-tables, I knew it would be low tide and therefore plenty of sandy areas would be available for birds to feed on.
On parking just to the south of Carnlough, I immediately spotted two dark-coloured swans on the sea, close to the shoreline. At first, I thought these were juvenile Mute Swans, but when I looked at them through the binoculars, I realised that the Swans were Black. What are Black Swans doing in Carnlough? These originate from Australia, so where did this pair come from? Perhaps they are from a privately owned wildfowl collection - who knows? - baffling!!
Black Swans At Carnlough
(Male - Left & Centre, Female - Right)
The actual reason for coming down to the coast was to check for gulls with rings. On the beach at Carnlough, though overall numbers were not great, there was a good mix of adult, sub-adult and juveniles of Lesser Black-backed, Common and Black-headed Gulls. None of these were carrying rings.
Numerous Waders, including Ringed Plover, Oystercather, Redshank, Curlew, Turnstone and a few Dunlin were taking advantage of the low tide, but none of these had rings either.
Just around the coast at Glenarm, a 'raft' of gulls were on the sea just a short distance away from the harbour wall. On the rocks at the north end of Glenarm beach, was a congregation of about 70 gulls, again, consisting of adult, sub-adult and juveniles of Lesser Black-backed, Common and Black-headed Gulls. Looking through these, I did spot a BHG with an Orange Darvic, unfortunately, due to the failing light, I was unable to read the inscription on the ring. Back on April 22nd, I did record one of Adam's BHG's just a short distance away, but have no idea if this is the same one.
At least the Black Swans made the trip down worthwile.
BHG At Glenarm With Orange Darvic Ring