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.


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