Sunday, 7 September 2014

Welcome Back!

     White T35J Has Returned       
Since I recommenced my Sunday visits to Antrim Marina from the beginning of August, the one Black-headed Gull I've been watching out for especially, is this one.  On paying a visit here on September 21st last year, I spotted this bird and it started my passion for ring watching.  On arrival today, even before I had time to park the car, I noticed a 'white-ringed' gull perched on the railings in the middle of approximately 60 other Black-headed Gulls.  I didn't even turn the engine off.  I grabbed the telescope and hopped out of the car.  Yes, it was T35J.  I last saw her on the 16th of February this year and reckoned that she had left early to go back to Lithuania, where she had been ringed as a chick on the 3rd of June 2006 and raise a family of her own.  The distance from Kretuonas, Lithuania to Antrim Marina is 2043Km or 1269 Miles.  Now she's back for another winter in Northern Ireland.

Date Details Location
03 Jun 2006 Ringed as a Chick Kretuonas, Lithuania.
22 Mar 2011 Re-Ringed by Szymon Bzoma Pomorskie, Poland. (Darvic Ring also Fitted)
05 Apr 2012 Ring Read by D. Norkunas Utena-Daunisko, Lithuania.
12 Oct 2012 Ring Read by Adam D. McClure Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
02 Jan 2013 Ring Read by Neville D. McKee Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
21 Sep 2013 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
16 Feb 2014 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
07 Sep 2014 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
Key Dates for Black-headed Gull - T35J
(Table Shows 1st and last known sightings for each winter)

Black-headed Gull - White T35J (as I first saw her today)


With T35J sorted, it was down to business with the other BHGs.  A nice sunny morning with a light breeze and reading 13°C, really nice for this time of year.  I arrived at 09.05 and by 09.15, had recorded 9 gulls, 8 of these from Adam's Study.  2 more were noted at 10.15 and 10.16 and it wasn't till 11.35 before I observed a 12th and the final bird at 12.24.  Along with T35J above, Orange 2ABS put in its first appearance of the winter.  These two new re-sightings, now takes my total to 20 of the 30 Darvic ringed BHGs that I recorded last winter.

Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 T35J   2AAC   2ACV   2ADJ   2AAA   2ABF   2AAD 
 2ABK   2AAH   2AAN   2ABS   2AAL   2ABL 

  2ABS     EK37329 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 23/Mar/2014 during my weekly visits.  With no summer sightings recorded, this gull may have moved out of the area during the breeding season.

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

For the first time since the beginning of August, the trainee canoeists never appeared.  I'm wondering if this is due to the kids summer holidays finishing and now that the schools are back on.  Whatever the reason, this had an impact on the gulls, as they remained throughout my 4 hour visit.  Around 12.30 even more BHG gulls arrived as did a Common Gull.  Amongst these, I spotted a Black-headed Gull with just a metal ring - this was new!  It flew away minutes later and all I could make out on the ring was London, the letter 'E' at the start and '76' at the end.  This told me that the ring was issued by the British Trust for Ornithology and the number would start with 2 letters followed by 5 numbers.  All I got was E - - - - 76.  I am hoping that this one is present next week and I'll give it another go.  When I left the Marina at just after 1pm, the number of gulls present had swollen to around 120, just goes to show the impact the canoeists had.


     Other Birds       
Once again, there were no Mute Swans present when I arrived, but they gradually appeared, with a total of 11 present.  Among these were the four ringed birds - Z91982, Z91983, Z91984 and W34158.  Surprisingly, the ever present Herring Gull never showed today nor the juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull.  The crows as usual - Hooded Crows, Magpies, Jackdaws and a single Rook - trying to get some of the bread being fed to the ducks and swans.  Quite a few Swallows and House Martins knocking about today, not be long now till they start their journeys back to Africa.  The Wood Pigeon's must still have young in the nest, as they frequently travelled backwards and forwards into the trees on the opposite side of the river.  A few times juvenile Grey Herons flew over the Marina and our special duck from County Monaghan was present and having a good snooze.  I had no trouble chasing after her with the camera this time.

The Mallard From County Monaghan


     Practically On My Doorstep       
I was turning into the next housing estate about a half a mile away from my house in Ballymena, to call in on a friend, when I was confronted by a large number of Black-headed Gulls, Rooks and Jackdaws. Somebody had thrown down a large amount of bread on the grass verge at the side of the road.  I slowed my car down and eased up alongside the birds and took out my binoculars.  On scanning the legs of the gulls, I noticed one with an Orange Darvic ring.  I immediately reached into the glove-box and grabbed my camera and started taking photos.  I managed nineteen pictures before this gull flew away from view.  A couple of these, of the bird itself, turned out fairly decent.

Luckily, when I viewed the photos on the computer, only one photo showed the inscription on the ring, as the height of the grass rendered the rest of the photos useless.  I was unfortunate back on August 14th, to have missed out on what is more than likely to be the same BHG, as it flew off before I could get the telescope ready - just a short distance away from today's sighting (Friday 5th September).

I knew by the inscription, that this was one of Adam McClure's Darvic rings.  For his study, he was assigned orange Darvic's with the code '2' followed by three letters.  I had Orange 2BJL and reported it to Adam by email.  In his reply, he was thrilled to learn that I 'nailed' this one.  He has seen a couple of his ringed birds and been frustrated, because the grass was too high to read the rings.  He attached a file for this bird, but it failed to open and I have asked for him to re-send it.  I know that he ringed chicks at three locations this year - the Copeland Islands and Castle Espie in County Down and Blue Circle Island at Larne Lough in County Antrim.  If I had a choice, I'd prefer it came from the Copelands, fingers crossed!

Black-headed Gull - Orange 2BJL

What a nice way to spend your Birthday

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