Sunday, 7 June 2015

Fairly Quiet

      Antrim Marina       
Since my final visit to Antrim Marina on the 5th April, I have only received 3 emails from two observers concerning sightings of Darvic rung Black-headed Gulls.  Adam McClure who is conducting the Northern Ireland Black-headed Gull Study, visited the Marina on the 16th May and sighted two Darvics, while Neville McKee on two visits recorded 2 Darvics on the 2nd May and 5 Darvics on the 21st May.  Neville also recorded 6 Darvics on the 2nd April, prior to my last visit.

The reporting rate so far has been very poor.  Whether its due to the absence of gulls or due to the lack of visits by observers, I've no idea!  I was hoping for at least 6 re-sightings of each individual over the breeding season and now that gulls will have have chicks, time is running out for sightings.

All the re-sightings to date, bar two, is of BHGs that I've recorded over the previous two winters at the site.    2BRA   which was caught by hand and ringed at the Marina in February of this year has been recorded twice.  During Neville's visit on the 21st May, he sighted a Darvic previously not seen here.  Black-headed Gull   2AFP   was ringed as a nestling on Mew Island at the Copeland Islands on the County Down coast on the 19th June 2013 by Sandy McWilliams, using Adam McClure's Darvic's.  Neville's was the first re-sighting of this gull since it was ringed and it could possibly be breeding on Lough Neagh, again I need more reports of this gull to be sure.

02 Apr 2015 Neville McKee 2AAV 2ADJ 2ADD 2ABF 2ACV 2AAA
05 Apr 2015 Gareth D.A. Platt 2BRA 2AAH 2AAV 2AAB 2AAT
02 May 2015 Neville McKee 2AAA 2BRA
16 May 2015 Adam D. McClure 2ADD 2AAC
21 May 2015 Neville McKee 2ADD 2AFP 2ABS 2ABL 2AAH
Summer Sightings at Antrim Marina

Some of the gulls listed in the above table were not recorded during my random visits last summer and contrary to that, some of the gulls from last summer are yet to be recorded this summer.  Due to the lack of observations, a clear picture of the year round residents cannot be really justified as yet.

My thanks go to Neville McKee and Adam McClure for their sightings.

      Around Ballymena       
It has been fairly quiet for gulls , ducks and geese around my home town of Ballymena, with very little to report.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls
Despite good numbers of these gulls to be seen flying around the town, extensive walkabouts have failed as yet to confirm breeding.  With a lot of attention being paid to rooftops, so far I've come to a blank.  Though practically all these gulls appear to be full adult breeding age, I am mystified to the apparent lack of breeding.

In my last Blog, I mentioned the reappearance of the metal ringed female   GC27112   who had gone missing for a week, while her partner defended the lake at The People's Park, from other LBBG's.  During the days that followed, a new more dominate pair arrived and took charge of the Park.  My ringed female and her mate were relegated to the rooftop of the nearby former 'Cottage Hospital'.  In the days that followed, they gave up and I have not seen them since.

Despite my regular visits to the park, the new pair have remained, though the female would be noted as absent on several visits, before being seen again.  Occasionally a 2nd pair would land on the lake, but I never get to see their legs, in the event my ringed female shows up.

Black-headed Gulls 
The last Black-headed Gulls that I observed in Ballymena, was on the 23rd April, these being two youngsters from last summer.  From then until this week, I have not seen BHGs at all.  On three days during this week, I noted an adult BHG in three different areas of the town.

In the housing estate where I live, no BHGs have been seen since early April.  While sitting in my kitchen today, I heard the unmistakeable calls of BHGs.  On going to my front door, I spotted three adults perched on the rooftop of the shop just across the road.  I reckon that these sudden appearances are from birds that have failed in their breeding attempts and have now moved inland away from the colonies.

The Peoples Park
Despite good numbers of water birds such as Moorhen, Coot, Mallard and Grey-lag Geese, I have been surprised by the lack of chicks to be seen.  Only single broods of Coot (1 young), Mallard (7 young) and Grey lag's (4 young), have been noted.  There are good numbers of Tufted Duck, but these are late layers and broods should start appearing over the next week or two.  It may well be possible, that the Lesser Black-backed Gulls are predating the chicks as soon as they appear on the lake.

Coot with single chick - The Peoples Park (18 May 2015)

Mallard with 7 young - The Peoples Park (26 May 2015)

Grey-Lag Geese with 4 young - The Peoples Park (26 May 2015)


No comments: