Sunday, 1 February 2015

New Sightings...

      Black-headed Gulls       
It was a nice frosty start to the morning, when I arrived at the Marina around 09.05.  The temperature was reading 0°C, with a 75% blue sky and a light, but chilly breeze.  All birds were nicely settled and a head count of the Black-headed Gulls present, totalled 110.  In the distance, a good 50+ more BHGs were perched beside the breakwater at the entrance to the Lough, taking full advantage of the sunshine.

With 28 Darvic-rung BHGs to watch out for, I had re-sighted 17 of these by 10.31.  At around this time, the first of today's three new sightings appeared - Adam McClure.  Adam is the organiser of the Northern Ireland Black-headed Gull Study and in all the time we have known each other, have never met or even talked on the phone.  All correspondence has been via emails or text messages.

I did know however, that Adam would be at the Marina today and would try and catch some gulls to ring.  We chatted a bit and I helped him to catch and process four new BHGs.  With many of the gulls having been fed early by visitors, the edge had been taken off their hunger and they were cautious and hard to catch.  The only really keen gulls, were those that had been ringed in the past and 'One Leg'.

Adam only stayed a short time, as he had to be elsewhere for 1pm.  I re-sighted another 5 Darvic-rung gulls by 12.30, to take the day's total to 22.  Although I stayed to 2pm, no other Darvics were re-sighted, other than 3 of today's newly rung gulls.

These four new Darvics now takes my overall total to 35 over the two winters at the Marina, now 32 for this winter.  The three that have not appeared as yet are,   2BAS  ,   2ADA   and   2ADD  .

Of the 6 absent birds today, four of these were not present last week either.    2AAL   and   2AAV   are absent for the third week running.  Interestingly,   2AAJ   is missing for a second week in a row, and could it be possible that it has already started its migration north, bearing in mind, that it was spotted in Northumberland, England on the third week of February last year.

When I departed at 2pm, there were only about 30 BHGs remaining.  All the others and the Common Gulls, must have received their fill of food from the visitors and departed towards the Lough.

Black-headed Gulls  -    2AAD   &    2ABS   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (01 Feb 2015)

Black-headed Gull  -  Lithuania (White) T35J  -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (01 Feb 2015)
(Nice Frosty Looking Decking)

Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2ACX   2ABS   2ABP   2ABK   2AAT   2ABL   2AAA   2ACV   2AAP   2AAC   T35J 

Today's Absentees
 2AAH   2ABA   2AAL   2AAV   2AAJ   2ADV 

BHGs Ringed Today
 2BRA   2BRB   2BRC   2BRD 

(Ringed Today)  Black-headed Gull  -    2BRB   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (01 Feb 2015)

There is still no sign of the Icelandic-rung BHG   571487  .  The Swedish 1st Winter BHG   6438391   was present and spotted by Adam.  On Tuesday, I received an email from the Swedish Ringing Centre at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, with the ringing details of this gull attached.

It was ringed as a nestling on the 17th June 2014 on the island of Axviks Hällar, which is situated in an inlet of the Baltic Sea, called Himmererfjärden, about 38km (24 miles) South-West of the Swedish Capital of Stockholm.

The distance from this tiny island to Antrim Marina is 1,522km (946 miles) South-West.  This youngster, would not have flown this directly.  Possibly the most likely route taken, would be westwards through Norway, crossing the North Sea into Scotland and then on to Northern Ireland.

I would like to thank the Swedish Ringing Centre for their quick response on sending the ringing details.  I know they have a backlog of recoveries to process and I must confess to grovelling a wee bit, but it paid off.  I had asked for a reply 'asap', as I wanted to obtain the details for my Blog.  I added my Blog address and they had a look - which probably helped.

It took a fair bit of work to get this young gull's number etc., but it has paid off.  I have a contact in Sweden (who wants to remain anonymous), but he also helped me track down the island where this young gull was ringed, as it is not featured on either Google or Bing Maps.  A BIG THANK YOU - to you as well (C-G M), also my thanks again to Graham Prole and Chris Smith for their help.

Another result gained! 


      Other Birds       
Two adult Common Gulls were mixed in with BHGs when I arrived this morning.  It seemed that the maximum numbers of Common Gulls, coincided with Adam's visit to the Marina and I failed to get an accurate head count of these birds.  Though there was quite a few around at that time, numbers quickly decreased.  The best I could get was 7 adults and 3 1st Winter birds.  I re-sighted the Scottish-rung   EY64036   at 11.11.  There were no Lesser Black-backed or Herring Gulls to be seen today.

6 adult Mute Swans on my arrival were soon joined by another 2 and the total reached 13 a short time later.  Another pair arrived just before 1.30 to take the total to 15 adults in all.  Today's second new sighting was recorded at 12.54.  On August 31st last year, I received the ringing information on the Mute Swans   W34156   and   W34158   from the British Trust for Ornithology.  I stated at that time, there was likely to be a   W34157   floating about somewhere, a ring I've never recorded - well I have now!!  It is also the first swan I've seen with the ring upside-down.  I tried to get a photo of this swan, but it hastily retreated back into the river.

  W34157   would have been ringed by Ken Perry on the 17th March last year at Antrim Marina along with   '56   and   '58  .  From time to time Ken takes trainee ringers to the Marina, to ring larger birds as part of their training.    W34158   and   Z91982   were also recorded today.

Mute Swan  -    W34157   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (01 Feb 2015)

Less than 20 Mallard were present on my arrival, but numbers increased slowly over the morning to about 80, by the time I left for home.  The male County Monaghan Mallard   4MN 0813   was re-sighted at 13.05.

Only one Moorhen today, now that's a surprise, I wonder where it's partner went.

A pair of Blue Tits potted about the Crack Willow tree for quite some time.  They appeared to be looking for crevices or holes, possibly as a nest-site in the Spring.

A Robin was the third new sighting for me at the Marina, never saw any here before.  The Pied Wagtail pair were present throughout.  Hooded Crows, Jackdaws and a single Rook were the only other species to be seen today.


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