Sunday, 20 September 2015

Worth A Soaking...

      Today's Black-headed Gulls       
It was dry and cloudy when I arrived at the Marina today.  There is no temperature gauge in my new run-around, but one thing was for sure, there was a very nippy wind blowing in off the Lough.  On a couple of occasions throughout the morning, my fingers were white with cold.

Even the small number of 52 Black-headed Gulls decided to perch on the ground, instead of the railings due to the wind.  As the morning wore on, more and more BHGs arrived and there was easily 150+ by the time I departed at 1pm.

So far, since I started my weekly visits for a third winter, a total of 23 Darvics have so been recorded.  18 of these were re-sighted today and included   2AAV , which I have stated in previous Blogs would go absent from the Marina for weeks at a time.  I know this one is a year round resident to the Antrim area and must have a favourite spot somewhere else in the town.  It was last spotted by Neville McKee on the 11th August here at the Marina.

We are now edging closer towards the end of the month and soon the natural food for these gulls will start to diminish.  As the gulls become more reliant on people for food, the weekly re-sightings will increase and it will not be long now when more of the Continental birds start to arrive and therefore adding to the totals.

Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2AAA   2AAS   2BRA   2ADJ   2AAK   2ABS   2AAF   2AAD   2ABL 

The Absentees
 2AAT   2AAP   2ABA   2ABF   2BRD 

Black-headed Gull  -    2AAV   -  Antrim Marina   (20th Sep 2015)

Black-headed Gull  -    2AAS   -  Antrim Marina   (20th Sep 2015)

Black-headed Gull  -    2ABN   -  Antrim Marina   (20th Sep 2015)

Black-headed Gull Details 
Last Sunday, I spotted a metal-ringed Black-headed Gull with a British Ring Number -   EW66235 .  After getting home, I went online and reported it to The British Trust for Ornithology, in the hope the ringing details would arrive in time for today's Blog.

On Friday morning, I was delighted to receive an email from the BTO.  This gull was ringed as a chick on the 14th June 2011 at Lady's Island Lake in County Wexford, Republic of Ireland.  As the BTO does not as yet issue PDF Files for ringing recoveries, I have no idea whether this is a first re-sighting or not for this gull which is now four years old.  The ringer's name is given as the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which is not of much help.  Antrim Marina is 280kms north of the ringing site in Wexford.

There was no sign of this gull today during my four hour visit.  It may well have been using the Marina as a stopover, but I shall keep an eye out for it over the next couple of weeks.    

Lady's Island Lake, Co. Wexford to Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim

      Other Birds       
Last Sunday, I reported on two metal-ringed Mallards -   5MN 1173  and   5MN 1207 .  About 60 Mallards were present when I arrived and numbers slowly rose to 100+ over the course of the morning.  The female   5MN 1207  was spotted at 10.40 and the male   5MN 1173  was not seen until 12.09.  I was unable to get photos of the female last week.  I managed to scope the ring number, but she went back onto the river before I could get any pictures.

I was able to get some shots of her today and I am wondering if she is blind in the right eye.  I have added the photo showing the eye.  As she stands, she is clearly awake, but I'll take another look at her next Sunday.  

Mallard  -    5MN 1207   -  Antrim Marina   (20th Sep 2015)

8 Mute Swans on my arrival, were probably the same 8 that were present last Sunday.  One group of four was located on the slipway, while the other 4 were on the small sandy beach area.  Of the six that were out of the water, only one was ringed, being the ever present   W34158 .

A single adult female Common Gull arrived at 11.45 and I think it is the same bird as last Sunday.  She is very small and dainty, much like   EY64036  which was present during the past two winters and is another gull which I am hoping will come back again.

Female Common Gull  -  Antrim Marina  (20th Sep 2015)

Another gull appeared today which I have not seen before.  It stayed all morning and I am guessing it is a third year Herring Gull.  I'm not an expert when it comes to the plumage cycles of these birds, so I can only guess.  A juvenile Herring Gull also appeared a couple of times, but on each occasion, it was chased off by this same gull.

3rd Year Herring Gull (?)   -   Antrim Marina  -  (20th Sep 2015)

The only other large birds present today, were the Hooded Crows, Jackdaws and a single juvenile Magpie.  The only small bird was a Meadow Pipit which fed briefly on the grass beside the main car park and then flew out towards the Lough.  This is the first time that I have seen a Meadow Pipit here.


      Whitehouse Lagoon       
After leaving Antrim Marina, I drove to Whitehouse Lagoon on the outskirts of Belfast.  Two weeks ago, I spotted a metal-ringed Black-headed Gull and an Oystercatcher with a combination of colour-rings on these mudflats.  I spent about three hours here and neither of these birds were present.

I did however spot another Oystercatcher at a distance that appeared to have a White Darvic-ring.  I took some long range photos in the hope that I could get the code on the ring.  I was also hoping the same bird would come in closer to me, as the incoming tide was quickly swallowing up the mudflats, but the Oystercatcher flew off towards Belfast and that was the last I saw of it.  At home, when I looked at the photos, I realised that what I saw was not a Darvic, but a piece of plastic or something similar stuck to the leg.  There was no metal-ring on either leg, proving that it was just a bit of rubbish.

After a while, I spotted a Black-headed Gull with an Orange-Darvic ring - no mistaking this one and it was probably one of Adam's study birds.  This gull was also a long way off, but again I took some photos in the hope of obtaining the code on the ring.  The incoming tide was forcing this gull closer towards me, but to my horror, it decided to go for a swim and I lost it.

By now the rain had started to fall quite heavily, but I decided to stay put in the hope that this gull would eventually appear on a dry spit of land not too far away from me.  My patience paid off and the gull duly appeared and I was able to get the code and a couple of photos.  I could tell by the code -   2ALP , that it was one of Adam's birds and I sent him a text, to see if he could send me its details by email.   

This gull was ringed by Adam on the 18th June 2013 as a chick on Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough, which is an RSPB Nature Reserve about 20kms away to the north.  Despite not being too far away from where it had been ringed, my sighting of it today was a first for this gull - well worth the good soaking.

My thanks goes to Adam for quickly sending me the details in order to add them in today's Blog.

Black-headed Gull   -     2ALP    -  Whitehouse Lagoon   (20th Sep 2015)


      Glenarm & Carnlough       
It is now a month since I re-sighted Black-headed Gull   260D   who has arrived back at Glenarm Harbour for another winter.  On Thursday the 17th September, I popped down to Glenarm to check on this gull.  As soon as I pulled into the car park, I spotted it on the rooftop of the Potteries building along with other BHGs.  A short time later, I took a photo of it on the footbridge, which spans the Glenarm River.

It is my intention, to check up on this gull at least once a month throughout the winter.  Glenarm was pretty quiet for gulls with about 50 Black-headed Gulls and two young Herring Gulls present.  Two Turnstones were on the beach below the seafront car park.  The Iceland Gull that was here from mid-May to early August was not to be seen.  I wonder if it has now gone for good.  It seemed to like Glenarm, spending the whole summer here and may perhaps return sometime in the future.

At Carnlough beach, there was the usual congregation of gulls where the Glencloy River flows into the sea.  A good mix of Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Herring, Common and Black-headed Gulls were present, including young and immature individuals of each species.  I was able to scope many of the gulls before two men arrived on the scene.

They parked at the roadside and for some obscure reason, they left their car, walked towards the gulls, scaring them all off and went back to their vehicle and drove off.  I couldn't see the sense in what they did, but the gulls all settled onto the sea a short distance out and therefore were of no use to me, ending my visit. 

Black-headed Gull  -     260D    -  on Glenarm Footbridge   (17 Sep 2015)


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