Sunday, 1 November 2015

A Surprise Arrival....

      Today's Black-headed Gulls       
My sister Heather and I arrived at the Marina with the weather being clear and calm, with a slight nip of frost in the air.  There was no wind at all, plenty of sunshine and the Lough was once again like a sheet of glass.

Once again, there was no sign of   2ABP  and he is well overdue now.  This week, I was going to predict the return of   2AFD , but this gull beat me to it, as it was the 10th Darvic to be recorded this morning at 10.02.    2AFD's  return to the Marina last winter, was reported by Paul Lynas on the 15th November, it's return this winter being slightly earlier.

  2AFD  was spotted by Richard Bonser, who lives in London, while on a gull watching trip to Riga, the capital of Latvia, back on the 4th April 2015 (Click here to see the report).  The last time that I recorded   2AFD  at the Marina, was on the 22nd March 2015.  This gull now takes my total of 'Darvics' this winter at Antrim Marina to 28.

With the weather being so calm, there was a marked decrease in the number of 'Darvic-rung' gulls to be recorded today, with only 13.  The 15 absentees, were obviously finding food elsewhere.  A head count on our arrival totalled 95 Black-headed Gulls.  The maximum number at any one time, was between 130 and 140.   

Black-headed Gull  -  Orange 2AFD  -  Back from Latvia

Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2ABK   2ACV   2ABA   2ABF   2AAK   2AAD   2ABL 

The Absentees
 2AAP   2AAA   2AAH   2AAC   2ABN   2ADJ   2ABS   2AAB 

Black-headed Gull  -  Orange 2ABF

Yesterday evening, I received an email from Neville McKee.  He paid a visit to the Marina on Friday afternoon, along with his Grand-daughter Lily.  He observed 10 'Darvics' while there.  5 of these were of gulls which I did not see on today's visit.  Many thanks to Neville for reporting these.

Neville McKee's Sightings
 2AAA   2AAC   2AAF   2AAK   2AAP   2AAT   2ABF   2ACV   2ACX   2ADJ 

      Other Birds at Antrim Marina       
46 Mallards were counted when we arrived, with the total rising to about 80 by the time we departed.  The ringed female Mallard   5MN 1207  was spotted late on in the morning, but there was still no sign of the ringed male.

A total of 7 Mute Swans were here and included the usual two 'metal-ringed' Mute Swans   Z91982  and   W34158 .  As the conditions were so calm, one swan had a good doze, using it's back as a pillow.  It just floated motionless for ages on the river.

Mute Swan  -  Using It's Back as a Pillow

We heard Whooper Swans for the first time this winter and on a couple of occasions, they could be seen flying out on the Lough past the entrance to the Marina.

The '3rd calendar year' Herring Gull was present all morning.  A juvenile Common Gull was sitting perched, but left for the Lough shortly after we arrived.  After 10am, 4 adult Common Gulls appeared and stayed throughout our stay, always chasing the Black-headed's for food.  The small female, which has been appearing over the last few weeks, was one of the 4 here.  Perhaps the numbers of these gulls will start to rise over the next few weeks.

Surprise, surprise, no Hooded Crows today or Magpies, just a few Jackdaws and a brief visit by a Rook.

Smaller birds consisted of Blue and Long-tailed Tits feeding high up in the branches of the Crack Willow tree at the end of the Marina.  Pied and Grey Wagtails were seen quite regularly and a single Dipper put in a short appearance.


      Ringing Details Received        

Black-headed Gull - EW83177
On Friday 23rd October, I visited Portrush on the North Coast of County Antrim in search of ringed birds.  At the car park on the East Strand, a group of 100+ gulls were standing on the tarmac.  Consisting mainly of Black-headed Gulls, a few Common and Herring Gulls and a single Ring-billed Gull were also present.

Scoping through these gulls, I spotted a Black-headed with a 'metal' ring.  My initial efforts to get close to it, to read the ring number, proved useless.  The purchase of a loaf at a nearby filling station did the trick, as I was able to obtain enough photos to enable me to piece the number together -   EW83177 .  When I returned home, I reported it online to the British Trust for Ornithology.

On Tuesday, I received the ringing details from the BTO.    EW83177 , was ringed as a chick on the 12th June 2010, at the North Esk Reservoir in the Scottish Borders, by a member of the Lothian Ringing Group.  The distance to Portrush is roughly 218km in a west-south-west direction.  I could not find any direct links to the Lothian RG on the internet, to enquire of any previous sightings of this gull.

I would presume, that this is a first sighting for this BHG, as it just has a 'metal'.  It could well be possible, that it 'winters' every year at Portrush, one to look out for in the future.

Esk Reservoir, Scottish Borders to Portrush, County Antrim

Common Gull - Blue 2AIN
On Saturday 24th October, I recorded my 5th Common Gull from Shane Wolsey's Study on the Copeland Islands in County Down.  I was returning home, when I decided to call by and make a 2nd visit to the Whiteabbey Shoreline that afternoon.  I spotted   2AIN , just as it was starting to get dark, another new 'Darvic'.  On my first visit, I spotted Common Gull   2AIP , which I recorded here on the 10th October and the 4th from Shane's Study.

On Wednesday, Shane emailed me the ringing details for   2AIN .  This gull was ringed as a chick on Big Copeland Island on the 23rd June 2012 and this was it's first re-sighting.  The Copeland Islands are just a few kilometres to the east of Whiteabbey.  Four of the five Common Gulls that I have sighted since the 23rd August, have been 1st re-sightings, the other being a 2nd re-sighting.  My decision to start covering coastal sites more often, is proving worthwhile, going by the number of ringed birds that I am locating.  My thanks again to Shane for the ringing details.

Black-headed Gull - EN52966
On Tuesday, Adam emailed me with the details of the Black-headed Gull at Kinnego Marina, whose full 'metal-ring' number, has eluded me during my two previous visits to the site.  On the 27th September, all I got was   E**2966  and last Sunday,   ****966 .

A fellow birdwatcher from Lurgan, contacted Adam with the full ring number -   EN52966 .  Having reported it to the British Trust for Ornithology, they sent him the ringing details.  This gull was ringed as a chick on the 3rd June 2009, near Blackers Rock on Lough Neagh, County Tyrone.  Blackers Rock is only 16km to the North-West, so this is very much a local gull.

Yesterday, I travelled back to Kinnego Marina and despite knowing the full number, I wanted to get photos of the digits which I could not get on my previous visits.  I was successful this time.

Black-headed Gull  -  EN52966

      Tuesday 27th October 2015       
On Tuesday afternoon, I drove to the coastal villages of Carnlough and Glenarm.  On Carnlough Beach, it was about high-tide and the gulls and waders were well up, allowing quite good views from the edge of the car park.  A handful of Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls were present along with 60'ish Black-headed and around 20 Common Gulls.

About 70 Turnstones, 20 Oystercatchers, a few Redshank and Ringed Plovers were busy looking for food around the gulls.  Spending an hour here scoping, no rings at all were spotted.

Moving on to Glenarm, the number of Black-headed Gulls was larger than normal, with around a 100 present.  The only ring to be seen, was   260D , the BHG from Eoin McGreal's Study, at Lough Mask in the Republic.  2 Adult and 4 juvenile Herring Gulls were also seen, but no further rings were spotted.  

Black-headed Gull  -  Yellow 260D

      Saturday 31st October 2015       
Today, I went back to Kinnego Marina, in the hope of obtaining the numbers for three 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gulls that were present last Sunday.  I had intended to go on Monday, but had to attend an induction at work for a new position.  I thought this would only take a couple of hours, but ended up lasting from 9am until 4.30pm, just before it started to get dark.

I was out of luck for two of these gulls.  The one-legged BHG with a metal-ring, which I was unable to read at all and the one with the partial number -   EW3*806 , never showed up.  I did manage to obtain photos to complete the number for   EN52966 , as mentioned above.

While here I noted all four of Adam's gulls from his Northern Ireland Black-headed Gull Study, which I have previously recorded -   2BPN ,   2BPS ,   2BPT  and   2BPV   2BPV , was new to me on last Sunday's visit here.  

Adam, sent me the details for this gull during the week.  It was caught and ringed at Kinnego Marina on the 31st October 2014, as an unsexed adult.  It was re-sighted on three occasions up to March 2015 at the Marina.  No sightings were recorded during the breeding season months of April, May and June.  My sighting was the fourth since July, when Adam observed it back at the Marina again.

      Sunday 1st November       
After completing today's four hour visit to Antrim Marina, my sister and I, went down to Whitehouse Lagoon for a quick visit.  Knowing high-tide would be around 2.30pm, I knew any gulls or waders present, would be pushed well up towards the car park.  I am still hoping to spot the Orange 'Darvic-rung' juvenile Common Gull, which I first observed a few weeks ago and failed to obtain the code on the ring.

I was out of luck, the only ring to be seen was that of  the Black-headed Gull - White T56W, which hails from Poland.

Black-headed Gull  -  White T56W


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