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)


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