Sunday, 16 August 2015

Yellow 260D in Glenarm...

      Today's Black-headed Gulls       
My sister Heather and I arrived at Antrim Marina just before 9am this morning, a lovely morning it was too.  The temperature was reading 14°C with almost clear sunny skies and a slight south-westerly wind blowing in from the Lough.

A head count of Black-head Gulls revealed a total of 83 birds.  By 9.38, we had recorded 10 of Adam's Darvic-ringed gulls, ending with total of 13 for the day with birds at 10.26, 10.29 and the final Darvic at 10.41.  The canoeists arrived at their usual time of 11.30 and the usual result ensued, no gulls.  Many of them re-sited themselves to the green behind the cafe.  Of the few colour-ringed gulls we could see in the grass, no new re-sightings were made.

Out of a total of 21 Darvic's recorded on the previous two Sunday's, 8 of these gulls were not present today.  Although a White Darvic was spotted, we could not count this one as the code could not be read.  Having said that, it was more than likely to be 'T35J'.

Numbers did reach the 100'ish mark, but overall was less than expected.  This week was better for the number of juveniles present, with a maximum count of 15 young BHGs at any one time.  This is still quite poor, when you consider The Peoples Park in Ballymena, where I counted over 30 juveniles amongst a total of 109 BHGs present altogether on Thursday past. 

Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2ACV   2ADJ   2ABF   2AAH   2ABA   2AAN   2AAF 

Today's Absentees
 T35J   2AAT   2AAP   2AAC   2ABN   2ABL   2AAV   2AAS 

I am still waiting for an updated file from the Polish Ringing Group for 'T35J', to see if she has been sited anywhere else since the 15th March until her arrival back at Antrim Marina last week.  Hopefully, I'll get a reply from them soon.

Black-headed Gull  -  Orange 2AAN  (16 Aug 2015)

Black-headed Gull  -  Orange 2ADJ  (16 Aug 2015)

Black-headed Gull  -  Orange 2BRA  (16 Aug 2015)

      Other Birds       
It is still on the quiet side for other gulls visiting the Marina.  Only one of the resident pair of Herring Gulls appeared today and it ignored the juvenile that now and again chased after it looking for food.  There was a comical moment concerning this juvenile.  It found a tennis ball sized basketball, which it played with in its beak and even tried to swallow it, without any success, thank goodness.  It was often to be heard squealing throughout our visit.  A single female Common Gull appeared mid-morning at the end of the long jetty.  At first sight, because of its small size, I thought it was the ringed gull from Scotland which has been present over the last two winters, but turned out to be a false alarm.

Once again, there were no Mute Swans present, though two individuals swam past the entrance to the Marina out on the Lough.  Mallards total the 100+ mark, but still no rings.

A young Grey Heron appeared for a short time, landing on the opposite river bank from where we were standing.  A party of 5 Ravens were in the air high above the Marina and they all did plenty of croaking.  A single adult Rook only stayed for a short time.  A number of Jackdaws were present the whole time and included two youngsters.  A young Magpie appeared from time to time and the only other largish bird to be spotted was a Collard Dove.

Two Sand Martins were the only small birds to be seen.  They were busy over the river catching flies.


      Glenarm Harbour       
After leaving Antrim, my sister and I headed to the coastal village of Glenarm.  To my delight, the Black-headed Gull   260D  has arrived back to spend another winter at this small village.  I have sent an email with a photo attached to Eoin McGreal and should get an updated file for this bird by the time I complete next Sunday's Blog.  I first recorded this gull here on the 6th January 2015, Click here to read about the sighting.

There were about 60 Black-headed Gulls here altogether, but the big surprise was the sighting of the Iceland Gull that I recorded here on the 24th and 26th June.  I would have thought, that it would have been long gone by now, but no doubt it likes Glenarm and has decided to stay put.  A few Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backs were also present, but none had rings.

Another little chap that caught my attention, was a Turnstone.  Normally, they would be seen in small groups, but this one was all alone.

Black-headed Gull  -  Yellow 260D  (16 Aug 2015)

Iceland Gull  -  Glenarm Harbour  (16 Aug 2015)

Turnstone  -  Glenarm Harbour  (16 Aug 2015)


      The Peoples Park, Ballymena       
I called in to my local park in Ballymena on Thursday and Friday past.  On Thursday I counted 109 Black-headed Gulls and just over 30 of these were this year's youngsters, which is not bad considering that BHGs do not breed in the Ballymena area.  Although I managed to get looking at the legs of about 50 of the gulls, no rings were spotted.  I have made frequent visits here looking for the BHG from Reading in England - 'White 21L6'.  It was here on the 17th July, but I have not spotted it since.

The pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, which have been here all summer, were still present.  Despite all my efforts to locate any breeding pairs of these birds on rooftops in Ballymena, there has been no proof of nesting, which is surprising due to the large number of these gulls in the town.

The sighting of three juvenile Common Gulls surprised me, as I did not expect to see these.  I was finally able to confirm that the pair of Little Grebes have bred successfully on the lake, albeit, they only had a single large youngster.  A pair of Moorhens also had a small chick, despite this species laying quite large clutches.

On Friday, I paid another quick visit to the park.  This time, there were only about 60 Black-headed Gulls and a single juvenile Common Gull.  The highlight of this visit, was the sighting of a Tufted Duck with 5 newly hatched chicks.  It may be August, but finally chicks are being noted here.  The mother 'Tuftie' was kept quite busy trying to ward off the Lesser Black-Back's there were trying to make a meal out of her chicks.

Juvenile Common Gull  -  The Peoples Park  (14 Aug 2015)

Tufted Duck with 5 Chicks  -  The Peoples Park  (14 Aug 2015)


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