Sunday, 28 September 2014

Watch Out - There's A Mink About

      Today's Black-headed Gulls       
I arrived at the Marina today at 09.05 the temperature reading 16°C, 100% cloud cover and quite a westerly breeze coming off the Lough.  By 10am, a couple of my fingers were white with cold and a day for a coat.  On the whole, it has still been unbelievably mild for this time of year and no significant rainfall since August.

In the region of 40 to 50 BHGs were present and the total slowly rose to about 200 by the time I finished just after 1pm.  A good day today in the sense the birds were looking for food for a change and their calls were ringing out whenever they could see people arriving carrying bread bags.

It was also a good day for Darvic rung gulls, with 17 out of 20 of previously recorded birds present today and a further two BHGs made their first appearance of the Autumn/Winter season.  With these new additions, the overall total now stands at 22 of last Winters 30 Darvic rung gulls.

  2ABN    is interesting, as this bird was last seen on the 9th February 2014, a week earlier than 'White T35J', which was last seen on the 16th, before presumably returning back to Lithuania.  'T35J' was back at the Marina on the 7th September.  Could it be possible, that   2ABN  , may have gone further afield?  Until Adam McClure sends me the updated files for today's new sightings, I am presuming neither of the gulls have been seen since I last saw them in the Spring.

Today is my ninth Sunday visit for this Autumn/Winter season, and of today's three absentees,   2AAK   has only been recorded once, and that was back on the 17th August, has it gone on holiday!!

Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2AAL   2AAP   2ADJ   2AAN   2ABL   2ACV   2ABF   2AAA   2AAF   2ABN 

  2ABN     EY37327 was originally ringed at Antrim Marina on 23/Jan/2013 as an adult female.  1st observed by me on 22/Sep/2013 and last seen on 09/Feb/2014 during my weekly visits.

  2AAB     EY37303 was originally ringed at Antrim Marina on 11/Dec/2012 as an unsexed female.  1st observed by me on 25/Sep/2013 and last seen on 16/Mar/2014 during my weekly visits.

Black-headed Gulls Absent Today
 2AAK   2AAV   2AAS 

BHGs Orange 2AAB and White T35J At The Marina Today


      A Mink Is Cause of Commotion       
Around 9.25 this morning, a wild commotion broke out across the river at Antrim Boat Club.  The Hooded Crows and Magpies were going ballistic in the trees.  I had a very good look through the binoculars, thinking a Sparrowhawk or Buzzard was the cause of all the din, but I could not see anything.

A few minutes later, some of the Black-headed Gulls, at the long jetty took to the air screaming their heads off, flying just above the water.  On looking at the river through the binoculars, I could see something about a foot long swimming across to my side of the river.

I grabbed the camera and ran round to the boulders at the side of the river in the direction that it was heading.  When I got there, I could see nothing, but the gulls were still going 'mad' in front of me, so I just stood quietly and waited.  Just by luck, a head poked out between the boulders moments later and I got this photo of a Mink.  I had to check on this, with Marc Ruddock and Jim Wells, as I was unsure if we actually had Mink in Northern Ireland.  Marc replied, that they are fairly widespread though not common.  This is the first time I've ever seen one, another first for me at the Marina.

Mink Having A Sneaky Peep Out Between The Boulders


      Other Birds       
No sign of the ringed Scottish Common Gull, that I saw last Sunday.  Just a single bird when I arrived and three present when I left just after 1pm, but none were carrying rings.

The Great Crested Grebe was again present for a short time, but quickly moved on when more people started arriving.  Although it stayed at a distance from me, I was able to zoom in for a photo this time.

The usual Hooded Crows, Magpies, Jackdaws and a single adult Rook were present.  Later a juvenile Rook appeared and the Hooded Crows really gave this poor chap a lot of hassle, nearly forcing it into the river at one stage.

Twelve Mute Swans in total slowly drifted in by the time I headed for home.  These included the pair with the cygnet and only two rings were noted -   Z91982   and   Z91983  .  Last week, I reported that the small female   Z91984   was really sick looking - its gone.  This ever present swan has disappeared.  When Caroline McManus the Marina Warden arrived, I had a chat about the swan with her.  She thinks it may have possibly been lifted and taken to a wildlife refuge in Crumlin.  Will have to wait on any word about where it went to.

Again, not the usual numbers of Mallard about, totaling around 60 at max and no sign again of the one from Monaghan.

Great Crested Grebe


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