Or should the title read - No Black-headed Gulls. My sister Heather and I arrived at the usual time of 9am for the 4th weekly visit to Antrim Marina. The temperature was reading a comfortable 17°C. The rain started to ease after a night of torrential downpours and as the morning wore on, the sun finally shone as the cloud cover started to break up. About mid-morning, there was a final, but brief deluge of heavy rain.
Birdwise, the Marina was particularly deserted, no gulls, no swans and only a single female Mallard was seen. Over the course of the next 3 hours, only two Black-headed Gulls actually landed at the Marina. One was an adult and the second a youngster hatched this summer. Overhead, there were plenty of BHGs to be seen flying about in all directions, but had no intentions of stopping by the Marina. I even checked the grass area behind the cafe, where the gulls would rest up, but none were here either.
The canoeists arrived at 11.30 and I decided to give up for the day at 12pm, with no rings recorded. While driving up the roadway that leads back towards Antrim Town, I spotted a large number of BHGs feeding on the playing fields beside Antrim Forum. I stopped the car to get an estimate on numbers and reckoned there were 200 to 250+ gulls here. There was no point in trying to look for rings here, as the grass was too high and the majority of the birds too far away to scope. There was no way to try and get close to them, as I would only spook them. I think the heavy overnight rain, has forced worms towards the surface of the ground, as the gulls could regularly be seen pulling them up.
This morning (Monday), I received an email from the Polish Ringing Group. As I had expected, the Lithuanian Black-headed Gull 'White T35J' has not been re-sighted anywhere from when I last recorded her at Antrim Marina on the 15th March 2015, until she arrived back here on the 9th August.
As stated above, the Marina was practically deserted birdwise on my arrival, with only a single Mallard. The rest of the Mallards, were resting on the green at the front of the cafe and a quick head count resulted in 46 birds, with not more than 60 by the time I departed at 12pm. Again, there were no swans present. On chatting to Caroline McManus, who is a Warden at the Lough-side, she informed me that one unringed Mute Swan was present for a while on Saturday.
Barring the two BHGs that actually landed at the Marina, no other species of gulls arrived here either. In the air, there were plenty of BHGs and Lesser Black-backed Gulls flying about and occasionally Herring Gulls.
A single Grey Heron youngster was spotted several times coming and going, probably the same bird each time.
5 young Hooded Crows and 2 young Magpies arrived and stayed around throughout my visit. A number of Jackdaws including 2 young, made up the Crow Species.
The only small birds to be seen were Swallows and Sand Martins, and a pair of Grey Wagtails appeared briefly, before moving on. All in all, a very poor day at the Lough.
Leaving the Marina at 12pm, I decided to look for Black-headed Gulls in other places. The plan now was to visit the KFC car park in Antrim, then do Carrickfergus, Whitehead and Glynn. Later, I was to discover road works at Carrickfergus, meaning the main road to Whitehead and Glynn was closed, so I decided to go South instead visiting Jordanstown on my way to Whitehouse Lagoon on the edge of Belfast.
On the way to Antrim KFC, I noticed a number of gulls on the football pitch at Parkhall Integrated College, about two kilometres from the Marina. As luck would have it, the school gates were open and I drove up to the car park beside the pitch. Approximately 60 to 70 BHGs were feeding on the grass, along with a few Lesser Black-backs and a Herring Gull. Throwing bread out onto the tarmac, only attracted 17 BHGs which also included an Orange Darvic, one of Adam's Study Birds.
2BRD was ringed on Sunday 1st of February this year, the day I met Adam for the first time. I re-sighted it again the following Sunday the 8th, which was the last until today. Two different observers recorded 2BRD at Lurgan Park, which is 28kms south of the Marina on the 15 and 24th March and Neville McKee in a recent email had sighted 2BRD back at the Marina on the 3rd August, the day after my 1st weekly visit for this winter.
23 BHGs were counted at the KFC car park, but no rings.
Black-headed Gull - Orange 2BRD (23 August 2015)
Just a few gulls to be seen on the beach on the North side of the castle. Mostly BHGs and a few juvenile Herring Gulls. Around a dozen Turnstones and an adult Sandwich Tern with its fledged chick were seen here, but no rings.
While driving past Jordanstown Loughshore Park, I spotted a lot of BHGs feeding on the grass, so I pulled into the car park. This turned out to be a really good spot. There were plenty of Common Gulls and a few Herring and Black-backed Gulls as well. Most birds were actually on the shoreline with the tide still quite far out. Ostercatchers numbers were good and a few Turnstones, Redshank and a single Curlew noted.
Plenty of legs to view with the telescope, though many of the gulls were actually lying down among the boulders. It was not long before I spotted a Blue Darvic on a Common Gull. Although it was quite a distance away from me, I slowly edged towards it, until I was able to read the code 2ASF in white lettering. Checking the CR-Birding site when I got back home, I traced the ring to Shane Wolsey. I am now waiting for a reply to my email, but I am presuming this gull was ringed on the nearby Copeland Islands. A second Common Gull, this time with a metal ring was also spotted, but it was too far away to read the number. Once again, if it had been ringed with a Darvic as well.......!
I took a photo of 2ASF , but the camera was at maximum digital zoom and therefore not very sharp. I very much liked this area and shall return as often as possible.
Common Gull - Blue 2ASF (23 August 2015)
This was my first ever visit here and an interesting place it is. Plenty off gulls of all species, loads of waders and a few Common Terns were present in this tidal Lagoon which is situated on the edge of Belfast. There are so many birds here, one would need to spend a good deal of time here surveying the birds. Just after I arrived, the rain started again, so I decided to leave and come back some other day when I have plenty of time to spare.
Eoin McGreal replied to my email about the re-sighting of Black-headed Gull 260D in Glenarm last Sunday. As I had expected, 260D has not been spotted anywhere since the 7th March 2015, the last date that I recorded it at the Harbour. I made two visits to Glenarm on the 1st and 4th April, but 260D was no longer about. I have updated the file for this bird which lists all sightings of this gull.
|15 Jun 2008||Ringed as a Chick||Lough Mask, County Mayo, Republic of Ireland.|
|24 Feb 2009||Ring Read by Neal Warnock||Larne Lough, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.|
|02 Jan 2012||Ring Read by Pauline Majury||Glenarm Harbour, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.|
|19 Aug 2012||Ring Read by Pauline Majury||Glenarm Harbour, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.|
|01 Jan 2013||Ring Read by Adam D. McClure||Glenarm Harbour, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.|
|24 Aug 2013||Ring Read by Adam D. McClure||Glenarm Harbour, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.|
|23 Nov 2014||Ring Read by Joe C.||Glenarm Harbour, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.|
|20 Dec 2014||Ring Read by Neal Warnock||Glenarm Harbour, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.|
|28 Dec 2014||Ring Read by Pauline Majury||Glenarm Harbour, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.|
|06 Jan 2015||Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt||Glenarm Harbour, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.|
|15 Jan 2015||Ring Read by Richard Donaghey||Glenarm Harbour, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.|
|07 Feb 2015||Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt||Glenarm Harbour, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.|
|07 Mar 2015||Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt||Glenarm Harbour, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.|
|16 Aug 2015||Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt||Glenarm Harbour, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.|
Full Re-sighting History of 260D by Year