Sunday, 22 March 2015

Finally - 2ADD...

      Today's Black-headed Gulls       
On my arrival at 8.55 this morning, the temperature was reading a very pleasant 7°C, with a 100% blue sky, sunny and a very slight breeze.  The temperature rose to 13°C by the time I left for home at 1pm and it stayed sunny throughout.

Around 30'ish BHGs were present at first and numbers probably never reached a 100 over my four hour stay.  The gulls were clearly making brief visits to the Marina and then flying back out to the Lough.  As it was such a nice day, there were plenty of people coming to feed the birds, which were all 'breaded out' by 10.45 and much lay about uneaten.  

The highlight of the day, was the overdue arrival of   2ADD  .  This adult male was ringed by Adam McClure on the 29th November 2013, at Carrickfergus on the east coast of County Antrim.  It was last re-sighted at 'Carrick' on the 15th January 2014 before I recorded it at Antrim Marina on the 16th February 2014.  I re-sighted   2ADD   on two further occasions before I completed last winter's visits on the 30th March.

On resuming my visits at Antrim Marina for the 2014/2015 winter season, I was to eventually record 27 of the 30 Darvics that I recorded the previous winter.  Of the 3 missing birds, the only one I had high hopes for   2ADD  , as the other two were youngsters and I reckoned, they failed to make it through the winter.

I enquired with Adam to see if any of these three had been seen since last summer.    2ADD   was the only one to be re-sighted, having returned to Carrickfergus and was recorded in October 2014.  Adam suggested that this gull could be wintering at 'Carrick' and breeding on Lough Neagh.

So there we have it,    2ADD   has returned to Antrim Marina/Lough Neagh for another breeding season, having completed it's 'long and hazardous' migration of about 27kms (17 miles) west. 

Black-headed Gull  -  Orange 2ADD

  2ADD's   arrival makes him my 34th Darvic rung Black-headed Gull to be recorded this winter at the Marina and was my 14th and final gull to be recorded today.  Of the 20 gulls absent today, the Polish breeding   2AAR   has gone, having had a 100% re-sighting record, since he arrived back at the Marina on the 19th September 2014, a total of 22 weeks.  The Lithuanian 'T35J' was also absent, has she finally decided to go as well.

One absentee, which was caught and ringed on the 1st February 2015, has been re-sighted.    2BRD   was reported to be at the lake at Lurgan Park in County Armagh, which is 23kms (17 miles) south of Antrim Marina.

The young 1st winter Swedish BHG   6438391   was sighted at 9.33 this morning.  No sign still of the Icelandic   571487  .  During the week, I received the ringing details of   EG55380  , it being named as a Common Gull and not a Black-headed Gull.  My photos clearly show it to be a BHG, so I have emailed the BTO again about this.

Whatever the outcome will be, I'll have to wait on.  According to the birds file,   EG55380   was ringed as a chick on the 22nd June 2005 on Big Copeland Island - Copeland Islands, County Down.  The distance being 45kms (28 miles) west and not the oldie I was hoping for.

'One Leg' had her usual chips, but was not as keen as she normally would be.  

On a couple of days this week in my home town of Ballymena, I have noticed loose flocks of 100 to 150 Black-headed Gulls flying north or north-eastwards, obviously on their migrations.

Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2BRA   2AAH   2AAT   2ABS   2ACV   2ADJ   2ABL 

The Absentees
 T35J   2AAK   2AAA   2AAD   2ABK   2ABA   2AAB   2AAL   2AAN   2ABF 

Finishing at 1pm, I drove round to the main car park beside the Lough to scope the now disused Torpedo Platform.  The platform was a hive of activity with upwards of 200 Black-headed Gulls, seemingly claiming niches for their nests.

The Disused Torpedo Platform

The Torpedo Platform When Zoomed In  -  (Left, Middle and Right)


      Other Birds       
Today was very poor for other birds, with numbers of all species except Mute Swans well down.  Many birds will be dispersing with the oncoming breeding season.

Only two Common Gulls seen today, the first being a 1st winter bird at 10.55 and an adult showed up at 12.15, but not the Scottish-rung   EY64036  .  The now regular pair of Herring Gulls was present throughout my visit.  A single adult Lesser Black-backed Gull put in a brief appearance at 10.58 and an adult pair also put in a brief appearance just after 12.15.

I have complained on a number of occasions throughout this winter, about the lack of Mute Swans to be seen.  Today however, was an exception, with 17 present on my arrival.  Numbers slowly increased to 29 by 10.02 and a maximum of 31 by 11.09.  This is more like the numbers I was seeing throughout last winter.  My only problem today, was the fact that very few left the water.  Only two rings were noted, being   Z91982   and   W34158  .  Still no Whooper Swans, have been seen or heard.

Mallard numbers were also poor.  Around 30 on my arrival and the maximum never even reached the 50 mark.  No sign of the County Monaghan ringed male   4MN 0813  .

Again, no Moorhens, so I can only assume they have gone back up-river to nest.  The familiar pair of Pied Wagtails have also gone.

Only one Hooded Crow paid a visit at the Marina, while the pair in the woodland opposite were very busy nest-building.  There were even less Jackdaws than normal, with a maximum of 7 being counted.

One female and three male Chaffinches were the only small birds to be seen.


      The Peoples Park, Ballymena       
Last Sunday, I reported the sighting of a ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull and despite seeing it briefly, I was hoping it would return in order for me to obtain the ring number.

As the week progressed, it has turned out that this pair has claimed the lake for themselves and fending off all intruding large gulls.  After three attempts, I was successful in obtaining the ring number -   GC27112  , which is a British ring and I have now reported it to the British Trust for Ornithology.  This is my first ever sighting of a ringed Lesser Black-back and can't wait to get it's details.  I also noted it as a female.

Yesterday (Saturday 21st), I called in for a while to try and obtain more photos of the ring.  All week, I have had trouble with photos, as the sun keeps reflecting off the ring.  I still need the part of the ring showing the number '7'. 

Pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls at The Peoples Park
(Ringed Female on the Left)

The two ringed Black-headed Gulls, that I have recorded at the park were also seen yesterday.  These being the Belgium-rung   8T 30294   and one of Adam McClure's Study birds -   2BKP  .  The Belgium bird was spotted on the roof of the Pavilion and I am still waiting to hear back from Belgium with it's ringing details.

I last spotted   2BKP   on the 10th March while it was swimming on the Parks lake and successfully photographed the bird with the ring readable, though it was clearly in the water.  Having stated, that very few rings will ever be read under water, I did it again yesterday and managed another underwater sighting and photo.

Black-headed Gull  -  Orange 2BKP

Another first ever for me yesterday, was the sighting of a duck that I did not recognise.  Although I could not locate my bird guide at home, I presumed it might be a female Teal.  I emailed a photo of it to Adam, while reporting his BHG.  He identified it as a male Gadwall.  I'm not good with ducks, as I had never gone out of my way to look for them in the past.

Now that I'm 'Ring Watching', I am looking at the legs of every bird I see.

Male Gadwall in The Peoples Park


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