Around 11.35 this morning, I spotted a White Darvic and this time it was not 'T35J'. I quickly scoped the code on the ring, before taking some photos. It took two attempts, to obtain the number on this bird's metal-ring. My new Black-headed Gull's rings were White 2APT and EY21597. Once, I got back home, I downloaded and named my photos. This done I checked the cr-birding site to find the ringer and duly sent an email at 13.49, to report this gull along with a photo attached.
I was gobsmacked when I received a reply 12 minutes later from Tom Dougall. This Black-headed Gull was ringed as a chick on the 16th June 2013 at a breeding colony in the Moorfoot Hills, on the Scottish Borders. My sighting is the first for this gull and the first from this colony to be seen in Northern Ireland. The furthest west that any gulls from this colony, that had been previously sighted, was in Argyll. There is a nature reserve at Gladhouse Reservoir, just South of Edinburgh, which has a couple of islands. It's possibly the sight where this bird was ringed. The distance from here to Antrim Marina is 230km (143 miles), South West.
This may well be the same gull that eluded me on the 4th January. Anyhow, that's another result and a quick one at that. My Thanks to Tom on a super-quick response. Thank You.
Black-headed Gull - White 2APT (EY21597)
On arrival at the Marina today, the temperature was reading 1°C and there was a thin fog and no wind. The fog persisted throughout my four hour visit and the temperature only rose to 3°C. My feet felt like blocks of ice, by the time I departed.
Around 60 Black-headed Gulls were present and numbers quickly rose to around 110 by 10pm and 200+ by midday. Only a dozen or so remained when I left for home at 1pm.
With last Sunday's four newly ringed BHGs, I was on the search for 32 Darvics. My total for the day reached 25, which included all four of the new recruits. One of these, 2BRA , amused me on several occasions, by trying to remove both of it's rings. It's now a week since it was ringed and obviously has not got used to them as yet.
Black-headed Gull - Orange 2BRA (Trying to Remove it's Ring)
2AAV showed up again today, after being absent for the last three weeks. I know from my Summer re-sightings, this bird is a resident in the Antrim area. Although it goes missing from time to time, I know it will show up again. The 'One eyed' 2AAL is now absent for the fourth week running and 2ADV for a third week. The last re-sightings for these two birds last winter, were on the 23rd and 2nd February, respectively. 2AAJ is still absent as well. It was re-sighted at Seahouses in Northumberland on the third week of February last year. Its looking as if all three of these birds are on their way to their breeding grounds.
Going by my records from last winter, next Sunday will be the last we'll see of 'T35J' and 2AAN , if they don't leave during this week.
The Swedish 1st Winter BHG 6438391 was re-sighted at 10.32. I was right when I predicted that this youngster would remain at the Marina. It is now very settled to life here. 'One Leg' was absent today, as was the Icelandic BHG 571487 .
Black-headed Gulls Present
Black-headed Gull - Orange 2ABL (Fog in Background)
Black-headed Gull - Orange 2AAA (Last Sunday)
Another Visit to Carnlough and Glenarm
Yesterday (Saturday 7th February), I decided to drive back to the villages of Carnlough and Glenarm. My target was the Lough Mask - Black-headed Gull (Yellow 260D), that I sighted on the 6th January at Glenarm.
I went to Carnlough first and parked in the car park of the small playground beside the beach. Unfortunately, there was a high tide and the gulls were resting on pebbles and boulders where the Glencloy River enters the sea. They were quite a distance away, so I grabbed the telescope and tripod and walked towards them. As I got nearer, some of the gulls took to the wing and dropped onto the sea. Not going any closer, I sat down and started scoping.
About 30 Common Gulls and roughly same number again in Black-headed Gulls, were mixed in together, also 10 Oystercatchers and 12 Curlews were present. I spent about 30 minutes looking at legs. Only one ring was seen and this was a metal-ring on a Common Gull, probably the same bird as I saw here on January 6th.
I then drove round to Glenarm and pulled into the seafront car park. There were 19 Black-headed Gulls standing in the middle of the car park and I drove slowly passed them, but none were ringed. This time, I had a mixture of bread and chips with me. I parked close to the grass well away from the other cars and started feeding the gulls.
Within minutes, I was surrounded by about 60 BHGs, including my target bird - Yellow 260D, so it was still here. Last month, I only got a partial number of this bird's metal ring, but managed to get the rest of the number today. I find it very satisfying to get the metal-ring numbers as well - EW67160.
Next, I drove round and parked at the harbour and started scoping the gulls on the nearby rooftops. Here was a mixture of Black-headed Gulls, Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls, which also included 1st winter and 2nd/3rd winter birds.
To my delight, I spotted a sub-adult Herring Gull with a metal-ring. On driving closer, many of the gulls flew away. I parked in a good position, to enable myself to get a better view of the legs, but unfortunately, my gull never reappeared. I have yet to record a ringed Herring Gull, but will have another go, probably at the start of March.
Black-headed Gull - Yellow 260D (EW67160)
With Adam not about this week, I was again more concentrated in the birds around the Marina, especially the Common Gulls. Eleven adults and three 1st winter birds, were the maximum I counted at any one time. These included the Scottish-rung EY64036 , that appeared at 11.28. The number of these birds are holding up quite well, compared to last winter. One thing I have noticed with these gulls, is the marked difference in size and markings of each bird. No two birds are anywhere near alike.
A single Herring Gull was present from time to time and two juvenile/1st winter Lesser Black-backed Gulls were present practically the whole time.
There were 10 adult Mute Swans present when I arrived at the Marina and no others appeared. Most stayed in the water and the only ring to be noted was that of W34158 .
An estimated 40 Mallards, doubled in number, as the morning wore on. No sign today of the County Monaghan Male Mallard 4MN 0813 .
Another first for me here today, was a small flock of Goldfinch's. They appeared to be eating sand beside the long jetty. Although they did not stay long when I first saw them, the reappeared again later in the morning and seemed to be eating the sand again. Antrim Council recently did some work here and it seemed as if they laid down new sand beside the jetty. I wonder if this is what's attracting the Goldfinch's?
Both of the Moorhens were together today. Hooded Crows, Jackdaws and the usual pair of Pied Wagtails, were the only other species to be be seen.