Sunday, 27 September 2015

What A Mess...

      Today's Black-headed Gulls       
My sister Heather and I arrived to a glorious sunny Antrim Marina.  There was around 25% cloud cover and a slight breeze coming in from the Lough.  Getting out of the car, we estimated 50 to 60 Black-headed Gulls present, most of which were perched on the long wooden jetty which protrudes towards Lough Neagh.

On starting to look for ringed gulls, we could not help notice the strong smell of fuel in the air.  Shortly afterwards, we noticed a boat had sunk at its mooring, at the lower wooden jetty which is situated at the Antrim end of the Marina.  We realised then, that fuel had leaked onto the water from this boat and looking around the river, it was covered in a thin layer of the fuel.

I had a chat with a local about the boat and it turns out that the owner had to be rescued twice during the past week while out on the Lough.  Yesterday, his boat began to sink and apparently he failed to turn up after being informed of what was happening.  Even the Fire Brigade was summoned, but they were unable to do anything about it.

Unfortunately, many of the gulls, ducks and swans, not only swam on this mess, but also were drinking it after being fed bread by visitors.  Whether this has any serious effect on the birds, will be seen in time, though one Black-headed Gull was clearly not well.  It made very little attempt to move away from people when approached and despite taking an interest in the bread, was unable to consume it.

By the time that we departed around 1pm, around 150 Black-headed Gulls were present and most of the fuel on the river had dispersed.  Over the course of the morning we recorded 17 Darvic-rung BHGs out of a total of 23 that have so far been recorded this winter.    2AAH  was the last one re-sighted at 12.22.  Next Sunday takes us into October, which is the month when gulls such as   2AAR ,   2ABP  and   2ADV  have arrived back in the past.  I shall be eagerly waiting to see them if they have survived their journeys.

Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2AAN   2AAT   2AAD   T35J   2AAP   2AAF   2AAS   2ADJ   2ABA 

Today's Absentees
 2AAA   2ABN   2AAB   2ACV   2BRA   2BRD 

The Sunken Boat  (27 Sep 2015)

The Fuel Clearly Visible on the River  (27 Sep 2015)

Black-headed Gull  -  Orange 2ABA  (27 Sep 2015)

      Other Birds       
No Mute Swans were present when we arrived, but the first one appeared at 9.22, with another 3 arriving at 9.40.  A couple of the swans did come out of the water, but the first ring was recorded at 10.09.  This was   Z91982 , whose only previous sighting this winter was on the 31st August.  By 12.00, another 4 swans arrived and included   W34158  which has become quite a regular visitor.  A further three swans were seen at the entrance to the Lough, but decided not to come in.

Mallards numbered around the 70 mark and this rose quite quickly to 100 plus.  The two ducks from County Monaghan   5MN 1207  and   5MN 1173  were seen on the wee sandy beach area at 9.44, just a couple of metres apart.  I have added a photo of a male Mallard swimming on the leaked fuel from the sunken boat.

Male Mallard Swimming on Leaked Fuel  (27 Sep 2015)

Again it was very quiet concerning other gull species.  An adult, probably male Common Gull only stayed for minutes before flying back out to the Lough and it was likewise with a juvenile, disappearing as quickly as it arrived.  No sign today of the small female that has been seen over the last two Sunday's.  The third year Herring Gull which was seen for the first time last Sunday, was seen again today.  While not always present at the Marina, it was sighted on a couple of occasions on lamposts behind the cafe.

The only other large birds were the crows.  The usual Hooded Crows, Jackdaws and Magpies and even 6 Rooks.  I have never seen more than one Rook on any of my visits to the Marina.

The only small birds to be seen today were Long-tailed Tits.  A family party of 8 birds were seen feeding in the trees beside the Long Jetty, before flying across the river into the wood at Antrim Boat Club.

Another first to be seen here today, was a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly.  I've never seen any butterflies of any kind here before.


      Kinnego Marina       
After finishing the four hour visit to Antrim Marina, my sister and I drove to Kinnego Marina for a first ever visit there.  This is a site where I know Adam has caught and ringed Black-headed Gulls in the past, but is a site which I intend to include for random visits during the winter.  This is the largest marina on Lough Neagh and is situated on it's southern shore.

I was not to be disappointed here either, as I sighted three of Adam's gulls that were completely new to me and also a metal-ringed Black-headed Gull.  Unfortunately, I failed to obtain the whole number on the metal-ring before the gull flew off and I could not locate it again and not for the lack of trying.  I ended up with   E**2966 , all I needed was the 2nd letter after the 'E' and the 1st of the 5 numbers.  All I can do is hope that this gull is still present by the time of my next visit to complete the number.

  2BPN  was ringed on the 29th October 2014 at Kinnego by S. O'Hara using one of Adam's Darvics.  Before today's sighting, it has been recorded as follows :- December 2014 (twice), February 2015 (twice), May 2015 (once) and July 2015 (once), all being at Kinnego.

  2BPS  was ringed on the 31st October 2014 at Kinnego by Adam.  Before today's sighting, it has been recorded as follows :- November 2014 (once), March 2015 (once), August 2015 (once) and September (once), all being at Kinnego.

  2BPT  was ringed on the 31st October 2014 at Kinnego by Adam.  Before today's sighting, it has been recorded as follows :- December 2014 (once), February 2015 (once), August 2015 (twice) and September 2015 (once), all being at Kinnego.

My thanks go to Adam again for supplying the files for these birds in order to get them published in today's Blog.

Black-headed Gull  -  Orange 2BPN  -  Kinnego Marina  (27 Sep 2015)

Black-headed Gull  -  Orange  2BPS  -  Kinnego Marina  (27 Sep 2015)

Black-headed Gull  -  Orange 2BPT  -  Kinnego Marina (27 Sep 2015)

Black-headed Gull  -  London E**2966  -  Kinnego Marina  (27 Sep 2015)


      Glenarm and Carnlough       
In last Sunday's Blog, I told of my visit to Glenarm and Carnlough on the Thursday 17th September and the inexplicable arrival of two men which scared off all the gulls on the beach at Carnlough and then departed again in their car.

On that occasion, I had scoped many of the gulls, but on thinking back, I remembered about a fairly large number of Common Gulls that were partially unsighted from me at the car park.  These ended up resting on the sea as well.

On Wednesday this week (23rd), I decided to go back down and have another go.  At Carnlough beach, I was rewarded with two ringed Common Gulls - one Darvic and one metal-ringed.  With caution and a slow approach, I was able to photograph and note the number on the Darvic-ring, but was not able to get near enough to the metal-ringed gull to try and get its number, as I ended up spooking them.

The Blue Darvic-rung Common Gull was another from Shane Wolsey's colour-ringing project on Big Copeland Island in County Down.  This gull   2HTX   was ringed as a chick on the 2nd June 2011 and today's sighting was a first.  Shane also confirmed that my sighting of   2ASF   on the 23rd August at the Loughshore Park in Jordanstown was also a first for that gull too.

Many Thanks to Shane for the details for both of these Common Gulls, though I have a feeling, I'll be in contact again in the future with more sightings.

Before leaving Carnlough, I had a good look through the rest of the gulls present and also the large numbers of Ringed Plovers and Turnstones, but no more rings.

In Glenarm, I quickly located Eoin McGreal's Black-headed Gull   260D  on the shore just above the tide line.  About 60 BHGs were present, along with a few Herring and Great-Black-backed Gulls.  I spotted a Herring Gull, which bore a metal-ring, on the roof of the Primary School located just across the road from the Harbour car park.  Once again, my luck was not in, as the gull flew off into the village and I was unable to locate it again.

Common Gull  -  Blue HTX  (23 Sep 2015)


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