Sunday, 12 April 2015

Summary + News...

After 36 consecutive Sunday visits to Antrim Marina, my second winter of 'Ring Watching' is complete.  For the commencement of my second winter, I decided to start this Blog as a record of my visits to Antrim Marina.  I was initially unsure, if I could obtain enough info to make this worthwhile.  I therefore decided to expand slightly by recording 'Rings' that I spotted elsewhere.

Although the Marina is quite small, sitting on a river beside the largest inland lake in the British Isles, I realised during my first winter season, just how important this tiny spot on the map is.  Despite my four, sometimes five hour visits once a week, I can't begin to think just how many gulls use this site as a stopover every day of every week.

The confiding nature of the resident and regular visiting gulls, helps to settle gulls that are just passing through.  This also helps me to record and photograph the birds and their rings.  I think it is a pity more new recruits were not ringed this winter.  I believe this site is a minefield of information still to be learned.  I would cherish the idea of more Darvics to work with next winter.

On the subject of Darvics, I think it should be made compulsory for all approachable species, such as gulls to be Darvic ringed.  As an ex-ringer myself, I know only too well, that the reporting rate of metals is minimal.  I have been fairly successful at reading any metal-rings I've come across, though a Herring Gull, 2 Common Gulls and 2 Black-headed Gulls still got by me.  Darvics are definitely the answer, especially when you have that single brief encounter.

I also strongly believe, that a greater number of Darvic-rung approachable species such as gulls would encourage more Ornithologists to become 'Ring Watchers'.  I would liken it to trophy hunting, with photos and reports to show off the prize. This would mean the ringers would reap the benefits of their time ringing and would compensate for that little extra expense in the costs. Meanwhile the 'Ring Watchers' would be accumulating their haul of trophies.

My other 'Big Hate', are the 'Ringing Details' sent out by some organisations.  Fine, the bird was ringed 'on, at, by, etc.', blah blah.  Does the bird have history???  If I report a bird, I'd love to know if it has history - 100 sightings in 100 countries - wow, great news, beggars belief, but there you have it - History!

An example is my Icelandic Black-headed Gull   571487   which was ringed as a chick on 19th June 2003.  Are my sightings of it over the last two winters, the only ones in its life?  Another example is of our own British Trust for Ornithology.  They still produce single sighting reports.

I recently received details of a Lesser Black-backed Gull   GC27112   which was ringed as a chick on the 1st July 2006.  On learning that it was ringed by The Clyde Ringing Group in Scotland, I emailed them asking about any previous sightings, to find mine was the first for a bird that will be nine years old this year.  Also, after all this time, it just proves how unnoticeable or unreadable a metal ring can be.

I think all ring sightings/recoveries should be sent out in a PDF file giving each birds complete record, whether it be one sighting or a hundred re-sightings.  They should also have an auto-send, for all people having previously reported the same bird.  I'd reckon, people would only be too glad to hear about a bird they once reported.  I have already emailed the BTO on this subject and they have already been considering the possibility of this.

Such information I'm sure will be of interest to everyone, especially 'Bird Bloggers'.  All 'Ringing Organisations' should adopt the PDF file system.  The Lithuanians do quite well with their files, all they need is an auto-send system.

All in all, I think my Blog did quite well for it's first winter.  Some interesting stories and sightings came to the fore.  With having gathered a large amount of information, it will all help to fuel the Blog when I resume 'Ring Watching' in August.

For the next few weeks, my Blog will be made redundant.  If interesting news does crop up, then I will post it.  I hope that all those who have followed me so far, have enjoyed my efforts to date.


      2AFD Sighted in Latvia       
On Monday morning 6th April, I received a text message from Adam McClure.  One of his Northern Ireland Black-headed Gull Study birds had been sighted in the Latvian capital Riga.  Richard Bonser, who hails from the London area, was on a 'Gull Watching' weekend to Riga when he spotted   2AFD   on a Landfill Site at Getlini Eko, on the outskirts of the city (read his report).

  2AFD   was ringed by Adam on the 12th February 2014 at Antrim Marina, as an adult male of unknown age.  Strangely, on my following seven Sunday visits that winter to Antrim Marina, I never sighted this bird once.

The first re-sighting came on Thursday the 13th November 2014, when I spotted   2AFD   at Wakehurst Playing Fields in my home town of Ballymena.  Though sat in the car, I was thoroughly rain-soaked trying to scope the number and take photos with the car window open (read).

While on my weekly Sunday visit four days later at Antrim Marina, none other than   2AFD   showed up as my 22nd out of 23 Darvics to be recorded that day, also making him my first new Darvic at the site for the 2014/15 winter.  I was to learn from Adam, that Paul Lynas had reported   2AFD   at Antrim the day before my visit.

  2AFD   remained in the Antrim area for 19 weeks, my last sighting of him being on the 22nd March 2014.  I recorded him on 14 Sundays out of 19 and he was always one of the later birds to show up each time.

To hear of sightings such as this, is brilliant.  It makes my weekly visits all so much worthwhile, as a profile can be built up of each gull's history.  Well done Richard for this sighting and I'll look forwards to the day next autumn/winter for   2AFD's   arrival back at the Marina.

Just as a note, the other two known foreign gulls that winter at the Marina - the Lithuanian 'T35J' and Adam's Polish breeding   2AAR  , were both last seen on the 15th March 2015.  Both of them will now be at their breeding sites in their own countries - be great if someone could spot them too or better still,   2AAJ   which was last seen in Northumberland.

Black-headed Gull    2AFD   in Latvia  (Photo Courtesy of Richard Bonser)

Date Details Location
12 Feb 2014 Ringed as an Adult by Adam D. McClure Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
13 Nov 2014 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Wakehurst Playing Fields, Ballymena, Northern Ireland.
15 Nov 2014 Ring Read by Paul Lynas Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
22 Mar 2015 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
04 Apr 2015 Ring Read by Richard Bonser Getlini Eko Landfill Site, Riga, Latvia.
Key Details for   2AFD  
(Sightings Away from Antrim Marina (Grey))
(First and Last Sightings at Antrim Marina (Cream))

Antrim Marina to Riga, Latvia  -  1,905km / 1,183 miles


      Other News       
To finish off is news of the ringed female Lesser Black-backed Gull at The Peoples Park in Ballymena.  In my previous post, I had reported that she had gone missing, though her partner continued to defend the lake from all other large gulls.

On Monday morning (6th April), exactly a week from when I last saw her, she was back with her mate and very healthy looking.  Since then, matters have taken a change for the worst.  A new pair of Lesser Black Backs have moved in and taken charge of the lake and the roof of the pavilion.

My pair are now relegated to the roof of the former 'Cottage Hospital' nearby and are not allowed near the lake, without being mobbed by the male from the new arrivals.  This is now making it harder for me to keep track of my ringed female, but I hope they will stay in the area.

Normally at this same site, the Black-headed Gulls would all be away.  So far, some are staying, a few adults, but most are last year's youngsters.  As far as I can tell the Belgium ringed   8T 30294   and Adam's   2BKP   are not present here now.

Herring Gull at Glenarm
In my previous post, I reported the sighting of a metal-ringed Herring Gull at the coastal village of Glenarm.  The ringing details arrived from the British Trust for Ornithology on Friday 10th April.

This gull was ringed as a nestling on the 28th June 2011 at The Copeland Island Bird Observatory just off the coast of County Down here in Northern Ireland.  The distance from Copeland to Glenarm is given as 42km north-west, so very much a local bird.  I have emailed Neville McKee, asking if he could check to see if there have been any previous sightings of this gull.  Neville has been associated with the Observatory for many years, so he'll know who to contact.

Bye For Now



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