Sunday, 25 October 2015

No 2ABP...

      Today's Black-headed Gulls       
My sister, Heather and I , arrived at the Marina this morning, to find the weather was more fitting for this time of year.  The sky was heavily clouded over, although it stayed dry.  The strongish wind blowing in from the Lough, was very cold at times and on several occasions, we retreated to the car to warm up a bit.  Later on in the morning, the wind died down slightly and the sun could be seen peaking through the clouds every now and again.  At this time, the flies appeared, which pleased the gulls to no end - natural food to feed on.

86 Black-headed Gulls were present when we arrived this morning and by 12 noon, the number had risen to the 200+ mark.  So far this winter, I have sighted 26 out of the 36 Darvic-rung gulls, that I have recorded here since I started 'Ring Watching' at the Marina in September 2013.  My hopes of the arrival of   2ABP  were dashed, as he never appeared.  His failure to show, means that he is now overdue, the only gull not to arrive early or when expected.

Today, did however, see the first re-sighting of another gull.    2BRC , put in it's first appearance of the winter.    2BRC  was caught and ringed on the 1st February this year at the Marina, the day that Adam McClure and I met for the first time.  I re-sighted it on 4 occasions over the following weeks and it was last seen here on the 15th March.  This co-insided with the departure's of the Continental gulls such as   2AAR , whose final winter sighting occurred on the same date.  At present, I am waiting on a file update from Adam, to see if this gull has been reported by anyone else since March.    2BRC  becomes my 27th Darvic-rung gull to be recorded this winter and due to it only being ringed earlier this year, I am still building a profile of it's comings and goings.

It can also be noticed now, how many of the gulls are relying on extra food, as many of them are showing up consistently from week to week.

Black-headed Gulls Present Today.
 2AAR   2ABF   2AAT   2AAD   2AAN   2AAA   2ABK   2AAK   2ADJ 

The Absentees
 2ABN   2BRD 

      Other Birds at Antrim Marina       
At Last, the Common Gulls are starting to come in to the Marina.  Today, saw two males and the small female, who all appearred early in the morning and stayed throughout our 4 hour visit.  More of these gulls should start to arrive here over the next few weeks and I am hoping   EY64036  which was ringed as a chick in Scotland, puts in her third winter appearance.

The third calendar year Herring Gull, which has not been seen in the last couple of weeks, also showed up today and was present for quite some time.

Last Sunday, only a small number of Mallards were seen when we arrived, with the numbers only rising to about 50+.  There was a big contrast in numbers today, as there were around 100 present when we arrived and the numbers remained consistent throughout our visit.  There was no sign of the 2 ringed Mallards from County Monaghan.  2 Black ducks present today, looked as if they were of an ornimental nature.  These may have escaped from somewhere or were just dumped here.

Only one Mute Swan was present at first, with the numbers rising to 5 altogether and no sign of the cygnet, that has appeared over the last two weeks.  Only the one metal-ring was noted today and that was   Z91982 .  Other Mute Swans could be seen out on the Lough, but chose not to come in.

The usual crow species of Hooded Crows, Jackdaws and a single Magpie, were the only other larger species to be noted.  The only smaller birds to be seen, was a single Pied Wagtail and a Dipper, which repeatedly flew back and forth across the river.


      Ringing Details Received        
Lesser Black-backed Gull - F461
On Tuesday afternoon, I finally received an eagerly awaited email concerning the Darvic-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull   F461 , which I spotted on the 10th October, at the Whiteabbey Shoreline, on the east coast of County Antrim.  Confirmation of this gull came direct from Portugal.  It was ringed by RIAS on the 18th November 2014.

RIAS is a Center for Recovery and Wildlife Research and is based at the Ria Formosa National Park, Olhão, South Portugal.  This Centre takes in all manner of wildlife that have been struck by disease or injury, releasing them back into the wild after treatment and re-cupperation.

No specific details were given about the symptons concerning this Gull, but it has obviously suffered no after effects, having turned up at Whiteabbey.  My re-sighting is the first for this gull, having travelled about 1,967 Kms / 1,222 miles in a northerly direction.  This one is now my best sighting of a ringed bird and comes with a small story behind it.  RIAS have stated that they will keep me informed of any future re-sightings.

My thanks go to the staff at RIAS for supplying the ringing details and their Blog can be found by Clicking Here.

Ria Formosa, Portugal to Whiteabbey, Northern Ireland

Lesser Black-backed Gull  -  Black F461


      Friday 23rd October       
Today, I decided to try the Roe Estuary, which is site that I have never been to before.  It is situated in the north-west of Northern Ireland where the River Roe flows into Lough Foyle.  To my dismay, when I arrived here, it was nearing high tide and the mudflats were under water.

Parking at the edge of this Nature Reserve, I could see 500+ gulls roosting on the marsh.  I was really surprised at the number of Common Gulls here, with easily 200 to 250 present.  I've never seen so many of this species in one place before.  A further 200 to 250 Black-headed Gulls were also noted.  Smaller numbers of Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls, were roosting here as well.

The major problem, was that the vegitation was so tall, no legs could be seen to look for rings.  I made my way along the edge of the marsh and went underneath the nearby railway bridge, to see what was on the other side.

100 to 120 Brent Geese were noted on the water's of Lough Foyle and 5 Black Swans swam in the company of 9 adult Mute Swans and a single cygnet.

I was very disapointed to find the tide was in and with so many gulls and geese in the area, I would have no doubt, there would have been colour-ringed birds to be got here.  I'll try again, sometime soon hopefully.

What to do next?  I decided to make the fairly long drive to Portrush on the North Coast of County Antrim.  On arrival, I drove to Lansdowne Cresent, the street where I first lived after the family moved over from England, when I was 11 years of age.  I remembered that gulls were always to be seen around the large car parking areas.

Only Herring gulls were to be seen here, though in good numbers and of all ages, from juveniles to adults.  On the nearby rocks, were a small number of Oystercatchers.  Spending about an hour here, the gulls were frequently coming and going, but no rings to be seen.  I am still waiting to get my first Herring Gull with a Darvic.

Moving on to the East Strand Car Park, I was confronted by over 100 gulls standing on the tarmac.  The majority were Black-headed Gulls, some Common Gulls and juvenile Herring Gulls.  What really caught my eye, was a Ring-billed Gull, the first I've ever seen.  After taking a few photos, it was down to business looking for rings and I got one.

A Black-headed Gull with a 'metal-ring', would not let me anywhere near it.  So I drove to the local filling-station and bought a loaf.  This did the trick and I was able to scope the whole ring number - London   EW83177 .  I have reported the number to the BTO and now await the ringing details.

The bread also attracted an albinistic Jackdaw.  You'd have thought someone threw paint over it.  Years ago, I saw a Jackdaw that was completely Grey, but have never seen one with so much white as this one.

Black-headed Gull  -  London EW83177

Ring-billed Gull

Albinistic Jackdaw


      Saturday 24th October       
Whitehouse Lagoon
This was another attempt to get the code for the juvenile Common Gull that I spotted here a couple of weeks ago, bearing an Orange Darvic.  I spent an hour searching through the gulls and waders for rings, but got nothing, unlike previous visits here.

Whiteabbey Shoreline
A good number of gulls and waders were to be found here.  Scoping for rings, it did not take too long to get 4 'metals', but all too far away to try and get the numbers.  2 were on Herring Gulls and 1 on an Oystercatcher.  A Common Gull with a 'metal', may well be the same one I got a partial number for, on the 11th October, with the up-side down ring.

A Common Gull with a Blue Darvic   2AIP , was the same gull I recorded on the 10th October and was spotted at almost the same location on the Beach.

A quick stop at the Harbour here in Carrickfergus, as there were very few gulls about, all Black-headed, just 15 altogether.  Looking through these, I spotted two with Orange Darvics from Adam's BHG Study.    2ADB , I recorded a few weeks ago and a new one to me is   2AFB .  Later on Saturday evening, Adam sent me the file for this one.

  2AFB  was ringed as an adult male at Carrickfergus on the 30th December 2013.  It was seen on 5 occasions at Carrickfergus between January and October 2014, before Cameron Moore spotted it at Ballycarry, a few miles North.  It was not observed again until the 14th March 2015, when Brian Henderson sighted it at Loch Ryan in Ayrshire, Scotland.

Black-headed Gull  -  Orange 2ABF

  2AFB  was back at Carrickfergus, when Adam himself spotted it on the 27 July 2015 and my sighting today, is the first since then.

With the tide well out, about 50 Black-headed Gulls were perched on the exposed rocks.  A few Common Gulls were also present and 5 Oystercatchers were probing on the small sandy beach.  Scoping the gulls, I noticed 1 Common Gull and 1 Black-headed Gull bearing 'metal-rings'.  With some of the bread that I still had from yesterday, I tried to lure the gulls towards me, as they were too far away to read the ring numbers.

Only the Common Gull came near me and I managed one photo and then it flew off.  After that, neither of the gulls came near me.  On checking the photo, I did get a partial number -   *S13***  on a BTO ring.  As all ringers would know, the missing first letter is probably an 'E'.  Looking at the photo, the 3rd number looks as if it is a 6, but I'm not 100% sure.  Adam lives nearby, so he'll have a go at finishing off the number.

These two 'metals', makes it 6 'metals' in all today.  If these birds had colour-rings attached to them, I would easily have got the codes for them all.

Whiteabbey Shoreline
Heading back home, I decided to stop by here again for a second visit.  I'm glad I did, as I spotted another Common Gull   2AIN , from Shane Wolsey's Study on the Copeland Islands..  I have emailed Shane and await the gulls details.  This is my 5th Darvic from the study since the 23rd August.

Common Gull  -  Blue 2AIN


      Today at Kinnego Marina       
After completing my weekly visit to Antrim Marina, my sister and I drove down to the bottom end of Lough Neagh for a second visit to Kinnego Marina.

Arriving here, we encountered 60 to 70 Black-headed Gulls all nicely sitting on one of walkways, all easy to scope.  Within a short time, three of Adam's Darvic-rung gulls were noted, as well as three BHGs with 'metal-rings'.

  2BPS  and   2BPT  were both spotted on my first visit here on the 27th September 2015.    2BPV  was a new one for me and I now await it's file from Adam.

Of the three 'metals', I only managed partial numbers for two of the gulls.   ****966  is the same gull that I had on the 27th September and on that occasion, I failed to obtain the 2nd letter as well as the first number   E**2966 .  The 2nd metal read   EW3*806  and on this one, I failed to get the 2nd number.  The third metal was on a one-legged Black-headed Gull and I failed to get any details at all on this one.  I remember that Adam caught a one-legged BHG earlier this year and I have asked him to confirm whether he ringed it or not.

The reason I failed to get the numbers was due to several people arriving at the same time to feed the birds.  Once the gulls had their fill, they flew off.  I might just try this site again tomorrow, as I'm keen to get all three numbers.

Black-headed Gull  -  Orange 2BPV


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Hopes Dashed...

      Today's Black-headed Gulls       
My sister, Heather and I arrived at Antrim Marina to glorious sunny day.  Hardly a cloud to be seen, practically no breeze and the Lough looked like a sheet of glass.  No photos today folks, as I left the memory card parked in the hard-drive of my computer.  Possibly a sign of old age creeping in - forgetting things!

A head count of the Black-headed Gulls came to a total of 79.  Setting down to scope for Darvics, 16 were sighted by 09.40, the next one not being spotted until 10.58.  By the time we departed at 1pm, a total of 21 out of 26 Darvic-rung BHGs re-sighted so far this winter were noted.    2BRD  was the last at 12.58, this gull not having been seen since the 6th September.

My big hope for today, was the arrival of   2ABP , who was last seen on the 15th March.  Although due, he failed to materialise, which therefore means, he should be back by next Sunday or otherwise he will be appearing late.  Last week's two returnees   2AAR  and   2ACX , were both spotted today.    2AAR  last winter, had a 100% Sunday re-sighting rate, being present every week from the 19th October, until his departure after the 15th March.  He arrived quite late this morning and I wonder if he can keep his record intact this winter.

Overall, it was not a great day to be looking for rings.  With the weather being so good, the maximum number of BHGs never exceeded the 150 mark.  There were plenty of flies about and you could tell by the accumulation of grass on the gulls legs, they had been foraging for these.

Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2ADJ   2AAB   T35J   2AAF   2ABL   2BRA   2AAT   2AAH   2AAS   2AAP   2ABF 

The Absentees
 2AAK   2ABN   2ABK   2AAV   2ADV 

      Other Birds at Antrim Marina       
What a poor day for Mallards, with only 8 to be counted when we arrived.  The number of these is usually around the 50 to 60 mark, increasing in numbers over the course of a morning.  By the time we departed, the maximum number never even reached 60.  A ringed female Mallard was seen out of the water, but I was unable to obtain the full number before she re-entered the river, so I had no idea if it was   5MN 1207  or not.

There were no Mute Swans this morning when we arrived.  Over the course of the morning a total of 7 Mute Swans and last week's cygnet ventured in from the Lough.  The usual two metal-ringed Mute Swans   Z91982  and   W34158  were amoung these.  The cygnet was the same one as last week, but was on it's own, no parents this time.  Not long before we departed, another pair of Mute Swans with two cygnets, swam in from the Lough, but did not quite make it to the Marina, having turned around and swam out again.

Two young Common Gulls ventured in early in the morning, but after flying a couple of circuits above the Marina, decided to fly back out to the Lough.  Two adult Common Gulls did stay for a while when the arrived later in the morning.  One of the these, is the small female, which has been appearing over the last few weeks.  The other was a male, the first to be seen here so far this winter.  No other gulls of any species were seen today.

Hooded Crows and Jackdaws and a single Rook and single Magpie, were the only larger birds to be seen.

Grey and Pied Wagtails were seen on several occasions.  A single Chaffinch made a brief visit, as did a Collard Dove to take a drink from the river, these being the only smaller birds to be recorded today.


      Ringing Details Received        
Black Headed Gull - White T56W
The Polish Darvic-rung Black-head Gull [T56W], which I recorded at Whitehouse Lagoon, last Saturday and Sunday, has also been wrote about on Adam McClure's Blog.  This gull was ringed on the 16th June 2012, as an unsexed breeding adult at a colony on an island in the Odra Reservoir, Bielinek, just on the Polish side of the border with Germany.  It took until the 15th January 2015, before the gull was first re-sighted and this was at Whitehouse Lagoon.  It was reported by Stuarty McKee to Adam and he informed the Polish Bird Ringing Centre.

It's second re-sighting came on the 4th August 2015, when Suzanne Belshaw reported this gull to Adam and my sighting is now the 3rd.  It is looking very likely that [T56W] has made Whitehouse Lagoon it's preferred wintering quarters and well worth looking out for every winter.  The distance from the Odra Reservoir to Whitehouse Lagoon is about 1,325kms/823 miles.  My re-sighting came 3 years, 3 months and 24 days since this gull was originally ringed.

Odra Reservoir, Poland to Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast Lough

Juvenile Common Gull - Yellow 2A64
On Wednesday evening, Iain Livingstone of The Clyde Ringing Group in Scotland, sent me an email concerning the Juvenile Common Gull   2A64 , that was reported to me by Cameron Moore, having been sighted in his home village of Whitehead, on the East coast of County Antrim.

  2A64  was ringed on the 8th July 2015 as a chick, in the Elvanfoot area, South Lanarkshire, Scotland.  Cameron's sighting was the first since this young gull was ringed.  Iain did not give a Grid Reference of the ringing site, but the distance from Elvanfoot to Whitehead is roughly 150 kilometres /93 miles in a south-westerly direction.

Iain went on to say, that he has ringed gulls for 33 years on and off with metal-rings and never had so much as one recovery.  Since he started using colour-rings, he says the report rate has been incredible.  This goes to show what I have been saying for quite some time - all approachable species should be compulsory colour-ringed and the little extra expense does pay dividends.

Iain Livingstone also answered a query that I made concerning the metal-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull   GC27112 , which I recorded on the 14th March 2015 in The Peoples Park, in my home town of Ballymena.  This female gull and her mate took control of the lake in the park, fending off all other large gulls.  This only lasted for a couple of weeks until another more dominate pair of Lesser Black-back's arrived and took over the lake and my ringed female and her mate eventually gave up and moved away.

Iain stated that there has been no further sightings of   GC27112 , which was ringed as a chick on the 1st July 2006 at Horse Island Nature Reserve at Ardrossan, Ayrshire Scotland.  My sighting is still the only record for this gull.

My thanks again go to Cameron Moore for letting me use the sighting and photo on my Blog and once again to Iain Livingstone for supplying the details for these gulls.

Lesser Black-backed Gull - F461
To date, I am still awaiting details for this gull.  I had emailed the contact address in Portugal and also reported the gull online to the BTO, but no reply as yet from either one.  The wait continues.

Brent Goose - Right Leg Yellow 2 / Left Leg Yellow 6
Last Sunday afternoon, I drove down to visit Whitehouse Lagoon and the Whiteabbey Shoreline after completing my weekly visit to Antrim Marina.  While at Whiteabbey, I recorded a Light-bellied Brent Goose with darvics on each leg.  I emailed my sighting to Graham McIlwaine, who is one of the coordinators of the Irish Brent Goose Research Group.  Graham was able to send me the gooses details a short time later.

I did not have time to study all the details and my Blog for last week was long enough as it was.  Analysing the file during the week, I decided the best thing to do, was to enter all the sightings into a table.

The most interesting, is the only sighting to be made in Canada and well inside the Arctic Circle.  Nasaruvaalik Island off the East coast of Bathurst Island, would probably have been the breeding site, although the file does not state this.  Just eight weeks before the Canadian sighting, this goose had stopped off in Iceland on its way to these breeding grounds.  Within the table, I have listed each year's sightings in alternate colours and the ringing date and breeding season are in green.

My thanks here to Graham for the information.  This is my 2nd colour-ringed Brent Goose.  I recorded the first one on the 1st April this year at Carnlough Beach.  The combination on that goose was - Right Leg White K / Left Leg Red N.

All Sightings of Brent Goose - Right Leg Yellow 2 / Left Leg Yellow 6
Date Details Country Location Sub-Site
01 May 2007 Ringed as an adult male Iceland Bessastaðagrandi
03 May 2007 Sighting Iceland Skerjafjörður Álftanes / Bessastaðir / kirkja
04 May 2007 Sighting Iceland Skerjafjörður Álftanes / Bessastaðir / kirkja
06 May 2007 Sighting Iceland Skerjafjörður Álftanes / Eyvindarstaðir
18 May 2007 Sighting Iceland Skerjafjörður Álftanes / Eyvindarstaðir
21 May 2007 Sighting Iceland Skerjafjörður Álftanes / Bessastaðir / kirkja
23 May 2007 Sighting Iceland Skerjafjörður Álftanes / Eyvindarstaðir
27 May 2007 Sighting Iceland Skerjafjörður Álftanes / Eyvindarstaðir
28 May 2007 Sighting Iceland Skerjafjörður Álftanes / Eyvindarstaðir
14 Sep 2007 Sighting Northern Ireland Strangford Lough Castle Espie South
22 Sep 2007 Sighting Northern Ireland Strangford Lough Greyabbey
19 Oct 2007 Sighting Northern Ireland Strangford Lough Greyabbey
03 Oct 2008 Sighting Northern Ireland Lough Foyle Faughanvale
01 May 2009 Sighting Iceland Skerjafjörður Álftanes / Sviðholt
26 Jun 2009 Sighting Canada (Arctic Circle) Bathurst Island Nasaruvaalik Island
28 Oct 2009 Sighting Northern Ireland Strangford Lough Island Hill North
22 Nov 2009 Sighting Republic of Ireland Tralee Bay Barrow Harbour
25 Oct 2010 Sighting Republic of Ireland Tralee Bay Barrow Harbour / Fenit Island
07 Nov 2010 Sighting Republic of Ireland Tralee Bay Barrow Harbour
20 Sep 2011 Sighting Northern Ireland Strangford Lough Castle Espie North
16 Oct 2011 Sighting Northern Ireland Strangford Lough Island Hill North
09 Jan 2012 Sighting Republic of Ireland Tralee Bay Kilshannig Beach
08 Oct 2013 Sighting Northern Ireland Strangford Lough Island Hill North
17 Nov 2014 Sighting Northern Ireland Strangford Lough Island Hill North
13 Feb 2015 Sighting Republic of Ireland Tralee Bay Barrow Harbour / Fenit Island
14 Feb 2015 Sighting Republic of Ireland Tralee Bay Barrow Harbour / Fenit Island
11 Oct 2015 Sighting Northern Ireland Belfast Lough Whiteabbey Shoreline


      Victoria Park, Belfast       
Yesterday, I decided to drive to Belfast for a first ever visit to Victoria Park which is situated close to the George Best Belfast City Airport.  In past years, I have drove past this Park many times, but thought I would give it a try for ringed gulls.  My sister, Heather, came with me for the visit.

I was not to be disapointed, as within minutes of setteling down to view the gulls, I spotted a Black-headed Gull with a White-Darvic  EAK9.  We stayed here for a couple of hours, but no more rings were to be seen.  In the region of 150 BHGs were present and 60 to 70 percent of them were this summers youngsters.  There was only two adult Herring Gulls and occasionaly a youngster or two of this species would show up briefly.  Two adult Common Gulls remained throughout our stop here.

When I got back home, I looked up the ring on the cr-birding site and saw that it came from Holland.  Before emailing the sighting to Frank Majoor, I decided to crosscheck with Adam's Blog and yes, he had spotted the same gull at the nearby Connswater Shopping Centre on the 10th January 2014.
Earlier this evening, I received a reply from Frank Majoor.  EAK9 was ringed on the 13th June 2012 at Zoetermeer in Holland.  It had been re-sighted 27 times, all more or less within sight of the ringing area, until it was spotted by Adam in Belfast.  After this, it was spotted in April once and twice in May of 2014, back at it's usual haunt in Holland, with no further sightings until yesterday, when I saw it at Victoria Park.

The distance from Zoetermeer in Holland to Victoria Park in Belfast is roughly 745 kilometers / 463 miles.  My thanks go to Frank Majoor for supplying the details.  This appears to be another case of a gull having a preferred wintering site.

Zoetermeer, Holland to Victoria Park, Belfast

Black-headed Gull  -  (White)  EAK9  -  Victoria Park, Belfast  (17 Oct 2015)


Sunday, 11 October 2015

Rings Just Keep Coming...

      Today's Black-headed Gulls       
My sister Heather and I arrived to a cloudy, but dry Antrim Marina.  There was only a slight breeze coming in from the Lough and the water out there was as smooth as glass.  Due to me having slept in for the first time in recent living memory, we arrived 50 minutes late.  This left us with 3 hours and 10 minutes before our departing time at 1pm.

Last Sunday,   2ADV  became the latest addition to this winter's total which now stood at 24 Darvics.  Having been away since the 15th February this year, his arrival was anticipated.  Today saw two more re-appearances,   2AAR  and   2ACX   2AAR  and   2ABP  were expected, though   2ACX  has turned up three weeks early.  There was no sign of   2ABP  today and is now a hot favourite for next Sunday's visit.  Both    2AAR  and   2ACX  were last seen by me at the Marina on the 15th March this year.  It is known that    2AAR  breeds in Poland, but so far, where   2ACX  goes to is unknown.  I believe this one also goes to the Continent to breed, judging by it's departure and arrival dates at the Marina.

Their arrival now takes the overall total to 26 Darvics.  Today's re-sighting total finished with 23, the three absent birds were   2AAA ,   2AAV  and   2BRD .

There were around 125 Black-headed Gulls present when we arrived today, but the overall total probably did not exceed 150.  As some departed others arrived and that seemed to be the pattern during the course of our visit.

Black-headed Gulls Sighted Today
 2AAS   2AAT   2ABL   2AAD   2ACV   2AAH   2ABK   T35J 

The Absentees
 2AAA   2AAV   2BRD 

Black-headed Gull  -    2ACX   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  -  (11 Oct 2015)

Black-headed Gull  -    2AAR   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  -  (11 Oct 2015)

Date Details Location
21 Dec 2012 Ringed as an Adult Male by Adam D. McClure Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
12 Mar 2013 Ring Read by Keith Stevens Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
05 Apr 2013 Ring Read by Artur Blad Pomorskie, Gdańsk-Kowale, Poland - 1592km.
11 Apr 2013 Ring Read by Michal Polakowski Podlaskie, Hryniewicze, Poland - 1919km.
20 Oct 2013 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
09 Mar 2014 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
17 Oct 2014 Ring Read by Adam D. McClure Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
15 Mar 2015 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
11 Oct 2015 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
   2AAR's  History at Antrim Marina
(Each Colour Band Represents 1st and Last Sightings Each Winter)
(The Light Blue Colour Band are the Polish Sightings, the 2nd being at a Breeding Colony)

The juvenile Black-headed Gull   EL72723  which showed up at the Marina last Sunday was not seen today.  During the week, The British Trust for Ornithology emailed the ringing details for this young gull.  It was ringed as a nestling on the 2nd June 2015 at Inch Island Lake in County Donegal, Ireland.  Inch Island is 87kms WNW of Antrim Marina.  The gull was ringed by Ken Perry, who ringed the Mute Swans at Antrim Marina as part of the training for trainee ringers.

      Other Birds at the Marina       
There were no Herring Gulls to be seen today.  Late on in the morning a small female Common Gull appeared.  I think this is the same one that does stop by from time to time.  Other Common Gulls could be seen and heard out on the Lough, but did not venture into the Marina.

Around 60 Mallards, rose in numbers to around 90 by the time we departed.  Both the male and female Mallards   5MN 1207  and   5MN 1173  from County Monaghan were sighted again.

Two Mute Swans, soon became one, as one quickly departed for the Lough.  By the end of the morning nine were present, including a pair with a large cygnet.  Amongst these swans   W34158  and   Z91982  were both spotted.

A Quite Large Cygnet  (11 Oct 2015)

A young Grey Heron arrived for a short time.  It initially landed on the long jetty, but flew onto a boat on the opposite side of the river.  I still got a photo of it.

Young Grey Heron  (11 Oct 2015)

The only other large birds to be seen were the Hooded Crows, Jackdaws and Magpies.  A single Pied Wagtail represented the only smaller species.


      Ringing Details Received       
I have now received the ringing details for the Common Gull from Shane Wolsey's Study and the two Black-headed Gulls from Adam McClure's Study, which I spotted on Saturday 3rd October.  All the gulls were new to me.

Common Gull   2ASL   was ringed as a nestling on Big Copeland Island in County Down on the 29th June 2013.  My sighting last Saturday was the 2nd for this gull, having been sighted at the nearby Whitehouse Lagoon on the 27th January 2014.  The ringing site is just a few kilometers East from the Loughshore Park at Jordanstown.   This one is the 3rd from Shane's Study that I have located in recent weeks.  Thanks Shane for the info.

Black-headed Gull   2ADB  was ringed by Adam as an adult male on the 25th November 2013 at Carrickfergus.  There have been numerous sightings of it in Carrickfergus only.  Between April and July in both 2014 and 2015, there were no re-sightings at all, this being the breeding season.

Black-headed Gull   2ADF   was ringed by Adam as an adult female on the 29th November 2013 at Carrickfergus.  All 5 of this gulls re-sightings have been at Carrickfergus.  These were, twice in October 2014, January 2015, February 2015 and my sighting on Saturday 3rd October.  It is either overlooked or prefers to be elsewhere.  Thanks to Adam for the details for both gulls.


      From Cameron Moore       
A couple of weeks ago, I finally met a fellow birdwatcher whom I've know about for quite some time.  Cameron Moore contributes quite a number of photographs to NI Birds Website and also comes across his share of Darvic-rung birds.  We bumped into one another on the railway platform at Glynn Station, which just happens to be a great spot for observing birds on Larne Lough.  After a good ole natter, he departed along with my phone number and Blog details.

On Wednesday afternoon (7th October), Cameron phoned me about a juvenile Common Gull that he sighted in his home village of Whitehead.  This young gull bore a yellow Darvic   2A64 .  I checked the cr-birding site for the origin of this gull and it appears to be from Scotland.  I have sent an email to Iain Livingstone from the Clyde Ringing Group and now await his reply.

I have been in touch with the Clyde Ringing Group in the past concerning a metal-ringed Common Gull   EY64036  at Antrim Marina and a metal-ringed Lesser Black Backed Gull   GC27112  at The People's Park in my home town of Ballymena.

I will publish the details on this Blog when I get them.  My thanks to Cameron for the call and his kind permission to add the sighting of this gull and a photograph on my Blog.

Juvenile Common Gull  -    2A64   -  Whitehead, Co. Antrim  -  (07 Oct 2015) 
(Photo Courtesy of Cameron Moore)


      Two Visits to Whitehouse Lagoon & Whiteabbey Shoreline
On Saturday the 10th October, I made the first of two visits to Whitehouse Lagoon and the Whiteabbey shoreline.  The second, followed my weekly visit to Antrim Marina today (Sunday 11th).

Last Saturday (3rd October), I had spent so long at The Loughshore Park at Jordanstown, it had started to get dark, night was closing in.  However a quick stop at the Whiteabbey shoreline, presented me with several hundred gulls of various species and lots of waders including a large number of Oystercatchers, hence my visits this weekend.

A Juvenile Common Gull bearing an Orange Darvic-ring, was the reason for making the two visits - read on.

Saturday - Whitehouse Lagoon
I called by the Lagoon first as it was on my way to Whiteabbey.  I arrived around 1.20pm.  I had initially planned for 12.00am, as I knew the tide would be going out, but had to go to my work to sign a new contract at 12.30, hence my late arrival.

When I got here, the tide was well on its way out.  I started searching for rings through plenty of gulls and waders.  An adult Common Gull with a dark Darvic was first to be spotted.  Unfortunately, it was too far away to be sure of the colour or obtain the code.

The Icelandic rung Oystercatcher, with a combination of colour rings and 'green flag', that I recorded on Sunday 6th September was next to be spotted.

A Black-headed Gull with a White Darvic 'T56W', was then observed.   I only managed to get one photo of it when an elderly woman stopped by and asked what I was doing.  After a brief discussion, my gull was gone.  I have reported this gull to the BTO and the Polish Ringing Group and now await a reply.

Black-headed Gull  -  (White T56W)  -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Co. Antrim  -  (10 Oct 2015)

While trying to re-locate White 'T56W', I then spotted a juvenile Common Gull with an Orange Darvic-ring walking towards the river that flows into the Lagoon.  It waded right into the river an started washing itself.  I spent ages waiting for it to come out again, when something spooked all the birds and they flew off towards the far side of the Lagoon and landed on the water.  On checking the cr-birding site on Saturday evening at home, I was to learn that only two studies use Orange Darvics on Common Gulls - Aberdeenshire in Scotland and Thames Valley in London.  This prompted me to have another go the next day.

A metal-ring Herring Gull was also spotted here, but was too far away to try and get numbers.

Saturday - Whiteabbey Shoreline
Leaving Whitehouse Lagoon and moving on to the Whiteabbey Shoreline, I was to find far fewer gulls here compared to last Saturdays brief visit.

It was not long however, when I spotted an adult Common Gull with a Blue Darvic '2AIP'.  It took a while to scope the number and obtain photos, but I knew it was another from Shane Wolsey's Study on the nearby Copeland Islands and emailed Shane with the finding.  On Sunday I received a reply.    2AIP   was ringed on Big Copeland Island as a nestling on the 11th June 2012 and this is the first re-sighting of the Gull.

My Thanks to Shane for the info, this being my 4th Common Gull from Shane's Study since 23rd August.

Common Gull  -    2AIP   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline, Co. Antrim  -  (10 Oct 2015)

My next sighting may well be the 'Gem' from all the Darvics and 'metals' that I have so far recorded.  An adult  Lesser Black-backed Gull with a Black Darvic 'F461' apparently hails from Portugal.  I have reported   F461   to the British Trust for Ornithology and to the Portuguese email address and now eagerly await a reply if the gull is confirmed.  I have several photos of this gull.  Looking at the BTO's online ringing report, there has only been a single Portuguese ringed LBB Gull ever to be recorded in Britain.

Before leaving the Whiteabbey shoreline, I spotted an adult Common Gull and an Oystercatcher with metal-rings, but they were too far away to read.

Lesser Black-backed Gull  -    F461   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline, Co. Antrim  -  (10 Oct 2015)

Sunday - Whitehouse Lagoon
Arriving here after my weekly visit to Antrim Marina, the tide was still quite high and most of the gulls were standing on the mudflats with the water covering their legs.  A quick look around of birds out of the water revealed no rings, so I decided to come back an hour later.

On returning, I failed to located the juvenile Common Gull with the Orange Darvic.  However, I did manage to spot 4 colour-ringed birds.  First was the Black-headed Gull White 'T56W', that I had spotted yesterday.  Second was the Black-headed Gull   2ALP   from Adam McClure's Study.  I recorded this same gull on the 20th September 2015, here at Whitehouse Lagoon.  It was a first re-sighting for this gull, having been ringed as a chick on the 18th June 2013 on Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough.

The colour-ringed Oystercatcher from Iceland, that I saw yesterday was the third to be seen and standing right beside it was an adult Black-headed Gull with a Green-Darvic.  Although these two were quite a distance away, I was successful in scoping the code on the ring   JM75 .  On returning home, I checked the cr-birding site to find this gull was from Norway.

I clicked onto the URL and was presented with a website.  After registering my details, I was able to report this BHG and had instant access to its details.  The great thing about this site, is the fact it is possible to check up on this gull at any time in the future, to see if there are any other re-sightings reported.  I think all ringing organisations should adopt this system, its brilliant.

Anyway,    JM75   was ringed as an adult male on the 19th May 2015 at Mølledammen, Time, Rogoland, Norway.  My sighting is the first for this gull, 150 days after being ringed.  The distance to Whitehouse Lagoon is 838 kilometers / 520 miles, South-West.

Black-headed Gull  -    JM75   -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Co. Antrim  -  (11 Oct 2015)

Mølledammen, Norway to Whitehouse Lagoon

Sunday - Whiteabbey Shoreline
This visit to Whiteabbey Shoreline only lasted for one hour, as I had to get back to Whitehouse Lagoon.  Just as I arrived, a group of 7 or 8 Brent Geese flew in from the Carrickfergus direction and landed amongst the gulls.  A woman was walking along the tide-line and I knew I had to be quick scoping for rings before she got too close.  Straight away, I spotted Darvics on one of the geese and quickly noted right leg - Yellow 2, left leg Yellow 6.  I managed a couple of quick photos and then everything flew off, having been disturbed by the walking woman.  The geese headed towards Belfast, while the gulls settled onto the sea.

On returning home, I emailed Graham McElwaine who is one of the coordinators of the Irish Brent Goose Research Group.  I quickly received a reply to state the goose was ringed in Iceland on the 1st May 2007.  There has been 25 previous re-sightings of this goose over the years.  I shall give the details in next Sunday's Blog, after I have had time to look through the file.

Brent Goose  -    2 | 6   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline, Co. Antrim  -    (11 Oct 2015)

Before leaving Whiteabbey Beach, I located a metal-ringed Herring Gull, but it was too far away to try and get the number.  A metal-ringed Lesser-Black-backed Gull , was probably the same one that I saw yesterday.  It was standing on it's right leg with the metal ring visible, but the left leg was tucked up underneath its body.  I tried to get a long range photo of the ring, but failed to make out any numbers.

I was a bit more successful with a metal-ringed adult Common Gull.  This may well be the same gull I saw here yesterday.  After taking a long range photo, some details on the ring were visible - A001.  The good thing here, is that the ring is upside-down, which could well help me in the future to get the whole number.

Common Gull with Ring Upside-down  (11 Oct 2015)

Many apologies for the late publication of this weeks Blog.  As you can see, there was a lot of info to get through this time.