Sunday, 21 September 2014

Scottish Gull Returns

      Today's Black-headed Gulls       
This morning was again a brilliantly mild one for this time of year.  The temperature was a cool 8°C, which quickly rose to 12°C and very sunny with a near perfectly blue sky.  With no wind, the Lough itself was looking like a sheet of glass.

About 40 BHGs graced the long jetty, their favourite spot.  Around 20 Mallard were present, a single un-rung Common Gull and three Mute Swans including Z91984.  This swan is now very ill looking, as it lay at the side of the car park , well away from the water, head tucked into it's back.  I walked up to it and offered it bread and cold chips, that I brought with me as BHG 'lure'.  It was not interested in the bread, but did take a large number of chips from my hand.  I had no trouble in 'petting' it, rubbing it's neck and wing.  The beak was really slimy looking and has lost a lot of its red colouring for some reason.  I specifically mentioned - an un-rung Common Gull - as a ringed one turned up later, (see below).

Of the Black-headed Gulls on the jetty, only two had Darvic rings and by 9.30, there wasn't a gull to be seen.  For the rest of my visit, no great numbers of gulls were to be seen at the Marina.  The birds are just simply not hungry, which proves the mild weather is helping them to find natural food.

Near lunch-time, gulls did start to appear in numbers, but most of them flew towards the grass area behind the cafe.  I was now distracted by a ringed Common Gull.  Just after 1pm, I had only recorded 7 Darvic rung BHGs at the Marina, by which time I obtained the full ring number of the Common Gull.

Normally, I finish at the Lough at 1pm, but at 1.10, I went over to grass area behind the cafe, to check on the gulls there.  Although most of the gulls were lying down on the grass, I managed to record another 8 Darvic's and left for home at 2pm.

No new BHGs were recorded today, so my overall total over 8 Sunday's still stands at 20.  There were 15 Darvic-rung BHGs here today and of the 5 absentees, I noticed the 2AAK has only been seen once so far on my recent visits.

Once again, there was no sign of the BTO rung BHG that I spotted two weeks ago, (E----76).  Very much looking, as if this one has got away, maybe it was just passing through.

Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2ABL   2AAC   2AAT   2AAD   2ABA   2AAN   2AAP   2AAV 

Black-headed Gulls Absent Today
 2AAK   2AAH   2ABS   2AAL   2AAS 

Black-headed Gulls behind the Cafe


      A Gull From Scotland Is Back       
Today saw the first sighting of another gull that spent most of last Winter at the Marina.  I first spotted this Common Gull in late January 2014, but it was not until the 9th February, before I was able to piece together its whole ring number.  I reported it to the British Trust for Ornithology and on receiving its details, learnt that it had been ringed as a chick on the 20th June 2013 at Hunterston, North Ayrshire, Scotland.  It had travelled 143km (89 miles) South-West from the nest-site.  I last saw it on the 23rd March 2014, the week before my last visit of the winter.

 I noticed it around lunchtime today, but at first, thought it was the same Common Gull which was present when I arrived this morning.  As is usual with all the gulls, there is so much movement with them, that you constantly keep checking all legs.  My attention was now solely focussed on this bird.  On a couple of occasions, it completely disappeared, though I was lucky, as it came back again.  Just after 1pm, I managed to scope the whole ring number to confirm it was last Winter's Common Gull.

I tried to get close enough to it to get photos of the ring and the bird itself, but it was very wary and kept flying off.  I reckon that once it settles down to the activities around the Marina again, it will probably become more approachable. 

This is one of the three birds added to the Side-bar of this blog.  I'm hoping to record all three again this winter.  That's one down, the two Icelandic birds will be a tall order, but I'm really hoping!!

Common Gull  EY64036
(Left - 9th February 2014 in 1st Winter Plumage and today 21st September 2014 in Sub-Adult Plumage)


      Other Birds       
The number of Mallard swelled to about 80ish during the course of the morning.  By the time I left the Marina, 11 Mute Swans had appeared.  They and most of the Mallards, remained on the water and except for Z91984, no other rings were recorded, even the Monaghan duck seemed to be gone.  The pair of Mute Swans with their cygnet came in off the Lough today, instead of up-river.  Maybe, due to the Lough being so calm, they took their youngster out there for the first time.

Just before 10.30, a party of about 25 Long-tailed tits, flew across from the trees on the opposite side of the river, to the Crack Willow on the edge of the car park.  Lovely birds these, I find them really adorable, was great to see them and this was the first time I've seen them here.  Two other firsts for me here today was a Great-crested Grebe and a Kingfisher.  The Grebe was too far away and the Kingfisher flew past like a bullet, for any photos of these.

There were quite a number of fly-bys today of Juvenile Cormorants and Grey Herons, up and down the river.  The usual crows were about - Hooded Crows, Jackdaws and Magpies.  I only saw the Wood Pigeon in the trees across the river once today.  Perhaps their youngsters have moved on a little now.  A single Pied Wagtail and a single Grey Wagtail were also seen.

While I was watching the BHGs behind the cafe, they all rose in panic at 1.33.  A male Sparrowhawk flying over spooked them, but they were quick to settle down again onto the grass.


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