Sunday, 19 October 2014

One in Millions...

      A Duplicated Number       
Last Sunday I spotted another ringed Mallard, which I quickly realised, was from County Monaghan.  After successfully obtaining enough photo's, I was bemused to find it had the exact ring number as the duck I recorded on the 24th August.  Knowing they couldn't have possibly been the same duck, left me wondering about the system the Gun Clubs use in ringing their ducks.

I sent an email to Dan Curley, secretary of the Tyholland and Glaslough Gun Club, from where these ducks originated.  I asked for clarification on their ringing, as I was assuming that each batch was ringed with the same number.  Apparently, this is not the case, as each duck should be carrying its own individual number, as Dan's reply states :-

Dan Curley


Sorry  Gareth  I  got  that  text  message  today  but  was  busy  at  the  time,  and  forgot  to  get   back  to  you.

The  first  is  a  Duck,  ( Female )  while  the  one  now  is  a  Drake  (  Male ).

All  Ducks  have  a  Different  No    4 MN  0001    to     4 MN   1600

The Duck  before  was  4MN 813,  which  was  part  of  a  batch  let  out  by  Tyholland  &  Glaslough  Gun  Club,  100,  4 MN 801   to  4MN 900.

This  was  now  is  possibly  also   in  that  batch  also.

Another one of  that  batch  4 MN 850  was  shot  on  lough  Neagh,  on  the  9.9.14.

Another  Duck  4 MN  1292,  was  shot  on  Lough  Beg,  which  is  near  Lough  Neagh,  to  the  North  of  it.
That  Duck  was  let  out  by  Emyvale  Truaigh  Gun  Club,  which  was  a  different  batch,  but  was  let  out  in  North  Monaghan  area   also.

Did  you  get  to  make  out  the  Number  this  time  ?
It  should  be  different  from  the  other  one.

Thanks  again


This email from Dan had me panicking - had I made a mistake?  I rechecked all the photos, to find I was right, these two ducks did have the exact same number.  I attached a few of the full original photos of both ducks in another email to Dan and he conceded - they were the same number.  Somehow, a duplicated number has turned up.  What I find more extraordinary, is the odds that the same person, records the same number on two different ducks, at the same location and have full sets of photos to prove it.

Dan Curley


We  got  3,000  of  those  tags  last  Year,  0001  to  3000.

(  Some  Clubs  use  them  on  pheasants  also  )

I  assume  they  are  made  by  a  machine.  We  get  them  off  a  Company  in  the  UK,  Porzana  Ltd,  ,  and  they  are  Associated  with  UK  Conservancy.

I  divided  up  the  rings  when  I  was  giving  them  out  to  the  Clubs,  and  there  was  no  discrepancies  with  the  numbers  at  all. 

In  fact  I  have  divided  up  and  used  these  same  tags  for  about  15  years  now,  and  never  came  across  this  before

It  must  be  1  in  Millions  chance,  that  2  Ducks  turned  up  in  the  same  place  with  the  same  numbers.     (  Buy  a  lotto  Ticket  )

It  is  definitely  a  duck  and  a  Drake,  so  it  is  not  the  same  Duck.

Thanks  again


Again, I cannot thank Dan enough, for his help and assistance.  I thought the story for the duck on the 24th August was good, but this has eclipsed that one.  Would I dare think there's another 4MN 0813 out there!  Now that's asking too much - is it???

Dan - I purchased a Lotto Luck Dip on Wednesday night - Not so jammie this time.  Many Thanks Again.

Female (left) and Male (right) Sporting The Same Number - 4MN 0813


      Black-headed Gulls       
On Friday evening, I had just sat to my dinner, when a text message came in from Adam McClure. With a bit of time on his hands, he decided to call in at Antrim Marina only to discover his most celebrated gull so far, has returned.    2AAR   is the only BHG from Adam's study, to be seen abroad and as luck would have it, at a breeding colony in Poland.  Over the last couple of weeks, in correspondence, we had discussed the possibility of this bird returning for this weekend, as this is the equivalent week as last year, when I recorded its return.

Also, while Adam was at the Marina, he recorded   2ABP  , which also was making its first appearance of the winter.  This bird along with   2AAR   and   2ACX  , all left after my visit on the 9th March and I thought it may be possible for all three to turn up this weekend.

  2AAR    EY37312 - see above article.

  2ABP    EY37328 was originally ringed at Antrim Marina on 23/Jan/2013 as an adult male.  1st observed by me on 27/Oct/2013 and last seen on 09/Mar/2014 during my weekly visits.

BHGs - Orange 2AAR and Orange 2ABP

Date Details Location
21 Dec 2012 Ringed as an Adult Male by Adam D. McClure Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
12 Mar 2013 Ring Read by Keith Stevens Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
05 Apr 2013 Ring Read by Artur Blad Pomorskie, Gdańsk-Kowale, Poland - 1592km.
11 Apr 2013 Ring Read by Michal Polakowski Podlaskie, Hryniewicze, Poland - 1919km.
20 Oct 2013 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
09 Mar 2014 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
17 Oct 2014 Ring Read by Adam D. McClure Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
Details of Black-headed Gull - Orange 2AAR
(First and Last Known Winter Sightings at Antrim Marina)
(2nd Polish Sighting at Breeding Colony)

On arrival at the Lough today, the weather was atrocious.  Though reading 13°C, there was squally showers right through from 09.00 to 13.00.  The heaviest of these was just after 09.30.  I estimated around 110 BHGs present rising to 140 to 150 when I completed my usual 4 hours.

I also recorded the above two BHGs that Adam had seen on Friday.    2AAR   was my 8th sighting at 09.06, but I didn't get   2ABP   until 12.44 and thought I was going home without sighting it.  These two gulls now takes my total to 25 of the 30 Darvic-rung BHGs that I recorded last winter.  Once again no sign of   2AAK   and I am now starting to think something has happened to it.    2AAV   has reappeared again after being absent for a couple of weeks.  This bird had a habit of doing that last winter and is not always a regular unlike most of the others.    2AAL   has been in the wars again.  Not only did he lose his right eye at the beginning of August, he is now limping very heavily.  'One Leg' was also present today and I noticed there is now another one legged BHG, but this one has lost its left leg - unlike 'One Leg' who is missing a right leg.

Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2ACV   2AAT   2AAD   2AAN   T35J   2ADJ   2AAP   2AAR   2AAC   2AAA   2ABK 

Black-headed Gulls Absent Today
 2AAK   2ABN   2ADV 


      Other Birds       
A very poor day to see smaller birds, probably due to the miserable weather.  1 Grey and 1 Pied Wagtail appeared briefly, but the best was a Dipper.  Its the first time I've seen one here, but funnily enough, it flew downstream past the Marina towards the Lough.  Needs its head looked at, considering the conditions out there!

A single Common Gull was present when I started this morning followed by two others later on, but the Scottish-rung gull has not turned up again.  An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull stayed for about 20 minutes around 11.30, before moving on.  A single Moorhen spent ages picking around and at one stage, I noticed it eating swan poo.  That must be it's equivalent of bin-hoking! An adult Cormorant was present early on and twice vacated the river to dry it's wings.

As usual the Hooded Crows and Jackdaws were on the lookout for an easy meal, but no Magpies, strangely.

20 to 30 Mallard increased in numbers to around 80 and the male Monaghan duck   4MN 0813   was still present among them.

There were no swans on arrival, but a new un-rung female arrived at 10.36 with a cygnet larger than that of our normal pair of swans that came from upstream at 10.40.  Both cygnets enjoyed each others company for a short time.    Z91983   arrived just as I was leaving for home.

Moorhen and Jackdaw


      Mute Swan Details Finally Arrive      
Back on the 24th August, I reported my first sighting in this autumn/winter season, of female Mute Swan   W34158  .   I only noted this bird on my penultimate visit to the Lough on the 23rd March last winter.  I reported it to the British Trust for Ornithology, along with   W34156  , which I also recorded that same day.  At the time of writing about these swans in that article, I had still not received any recovery details for either of these birds from the BTO.  During correspondence with the BTO on another matter, I was to learn, that both Mute Swans had been ringed at the Marina on the 17th March - the day after my usual Sunday visit.

The BTO have recently upgraded their computer system and this has been the cause of delay in logging and dispatching recovery details.  I have finally received the full details for both of the above swans and now know the ringer was Ken Perry.  Ken also teaches trainee ringers and part of their training, is to catch and ring a number of larger birds, hence the swans.  This means that all 10 of the Mute Swans that I recorded last winter were ringed by Ken at the Marina.

During the latter weeks of last winter, as many as 30 swans were present.  I'm hoping for similar numbers this winter and it would be great if one or two from elsewhere would appear with rings.

Another species of swan that frequents Lough Neagh and neighbouring Lough Beg during the winter, is the Whooper Swan.  Many of these breed in Scandinavia and Iceland in the summer months and are also the subject of colour-ringing.  Although none actually appeared at the Marina last winter, they were often to be seen nearby and are also worth watching out for.


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