Sunday, 29 November 2015

Swedish BHG Returns...

      Today's Black-headed Gulls       
What a horrible day and a great day as well.  The horrible side was the weather.  Frequent heavy showers and gale force winds coming in from the Lough.  It was cold and miserable and I spent all my time viewing from the drivers side of the car, while the wind and rain pelted the passenger side.  The great side of the day, was the return of a Swedish Black-headed Gull, which arrived here last winter and remained through to the spring of 2015.

No.3 on my wish-list, this Black-headed Gull first appeared on the 28th December 2014 at Antrim Marina, as a Juvenile/1st winter bird.  It was nervous and timid, and near impossible to get anywhere near it to obtain photos of it's ring.  Although Graham Prole, had informed me that the ring was from Sweden, it took until the 21st January 2015 to obtain the full number - Stockholm   6438391 .

This gull was ringed as a chick on the 17th June 2014, the ringing report can be viewed by (Clicking Here) .  The last date that I recorded it on was the 22nd March 2015.  By that time, it had long since settled down and enjoyed the free feeds by people visiting the Marina.  This obviously helped this young gull to survive it's first winter and to think it has probably returned to Sweden for the summer, returning now in it's 'new coat' for a second winter is amazing.

Black-headed Gull  -  Stockholm 6438391  (28th Dec 2014 and 29th Nov 2015)

Black-headed Gull numbers were well up today.  With 63 present on my arrival, the maximum reached the 200 mark between 11 and 12 o'clock, then dropped to about 100 when I departed at 1pm.

24 out of the 29 Darvic-ringed gulls so far recorded this winter, were re-sighted during my visit.  I am starting to think something has happened to   2ABS .  It has now been absent on my last 5 Sunday visits, which is unusual for this gull.  When I last saw   2AAB  on the 8th November, it was limping very heavily.  Today, it was walking with no problems and has obviously recovered.

A juvenile/1st winter Black-headed Gull was also spotted here today.  This one must be a new arrival, as it kept well away from the parking area.  I did manage one photo of the ring.  It looks like a BTO ring, so this gull is British, but I only got the last two numbers - 63.  I'll try again if it is still present next Sunday.   

Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2AAT   2ABA   2ABL   2AAB   2ADJ   2AAD   2ABK   2AAR 

The Absentees
 T35J   2ABS   2AAV   2AFD   2BRC 

On Friday, I received an email from Neville McKee, stating that he had visited Antrim Marina the day before (26th). While there, he recorded nine Darvic-ringed Black-headed Gulls from Adam McClure's Study.

Three of these were not present during my visit on Sunday week ago (November 22nd).    2AFD  is the BHG that had returned from Latvia, having been re-sighted by myself on Sunday 1st November and failing to turn up on my following three Sunday visits.

  2AAB  was not present on my last two visits to the Marina.  I last noted this one on the 8th November and it was limping vey heavily at the time, but Neville has made no mention of it's current state of health.    2AAF  was not present on my last visit to the Marina, but was present the week before.

My Thanks to Neville for taking recording these birds and emailing their numbers to me.

Black-headed Gulls Recorded by Neville McKee  -  (Thursday 26th November)
 2AAB   2AAF   2AAH   2AAK   2AAN   2ABK   2ABL   2ADJ   2AFD 

      Other Birds at Antrim Marina       
Mallard numbers were well up again on today's visit, with 67 being counted when I arrived.  Maximum numbers reached the 80 mark by 11am and then dropped back slightly.  The ringed female from County Monaghan   5MN 1207  was spotted early on, then disappeared.  There is still no sign of the ringed male from the same County.

Female Mallard  -  5MN 1207  (29 Nov 2015)

There were no Mute Swans present when I arrived this morning, but 5 came in from the Lough at 9.30.  3 others also came in from the Lough at 10.18, taking the total to 8.  Three of these were ringed, but I was only able to obtain the numbers for two of these, as one re-entered the river before I could get it's number.  The ringed birds were   Z91982  which has been a regular so far this winter and   Z91981 , which appeared for the first time last Sunday.

Around 11.05, a cygnet had arrived.  I did not even see it coming, so had no idea whether it came in from the Lough or from up-river.  Judging by it's tolerance to people passing by, I think this is the same cygnet that was here a few weeks back.

Mute Swan Cygnet  (29 Nov 2015)

An adult Herring Gull, probably the same bird that has been present over the last couple of weeks, was present right through my visit here.  A juvenile Herring Gull arrived at 11.03, but only stayed for a short time.

There was no sign of the Scottish-ringed Common Gull   EY64036 , that made it's first appearance of the winter last Sunday.  3 adult Common Gulls stayed throughout my visit and a juvenile made a brief visit at 11.40.

Several Jackdaws were the only larger species of bird to be seen at the Marina today.

The only smaller birds to be seen was a male Pied Wagtail and a Dipper, which zoomed down towards the breakwater at the edge of the Lough.


      Ringing Results Received       
On Monday after publishing my latest Post onto the Blog, I then checked my emails, to discover that I had a reply from Iceland.  It was the details for the 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gull   585774 , which I spotted at Ballycastle Harbour on Saturday 21st November.

This gull was ringed on the 16th October 2011, at the small peninsular town of Sandgeròi, which is situated to the south-west of the capital Reykjavik.  The sex of it was not determined, but it was a full adult, which would mean it hatched in 2009 or earlier.  My sighting of this gull is the first since it was ringed.  The distance is 1,341km / 833 miles.

It may well be possible, that this gull has wintered every year in Ballycastle and has never been spotted.  This will be another one to watch out for in the future.

Whilst reporting   585774 , I also enquired about the two Icelandic Black-headed Gulls, which are No.1 & No.2 in my wish-list for this winter (listed on the sidebar opposite).  My sightings for both of these gulls, are the only ones that the Icelandic Bird Ringing Scheme have had reported to them so far.

  585017  was a juvenile/1st winter bird, when I recorded it during the 2013/2014 winter at Antrim Marina.  I was hoping for it's return during the 2014/2015 winter, but it never appeared.  Many young gulls do not survive their first winter in life and this gull could have met it's fate already.  In the meantime, I still hope that someday it will turn up again.

  571487  was ringed as a chick in 2003 and I have recorded this one at Antrim Marina in the winters of 2013/2014 and 2014/2015.  As this gull has age and experience behind it, there is every possibility that it will again appear for another winter at the Marina.

My Thanks to the Icelandic Bird Ringing Scheme for answering my query and sending the ringing details of   585774 .

Sandgeròi, Iceland to Ballycastle, Northern Ireland  -  1,341km / 833 miles


      Thursday 26th November       
Last Sunday, after completing our weekly visit at Antrim Marina, my sister and I decided to visit Kinnego Marina and Lurgan Park.

While at Lurgan Park, I spotted three Black-headed Gulls bearing 'metal-rings'.  These were two adults, which were ringed on their opposite legs - one right, the other left, also a juvenile ringed on it's left leg.  Unfortunately, just as I started to take photos, all of the gulls rose and landed onto the lake.  We waited for a short while, but gave up.

On returning home, I only had a partial number for the BHG that was ringed on it's right leg and I never had a chance to take photos of the other two gulls.  The partial number was on a British ring which read - London   EW5**** , I was missing the last four numbers.

As Thursday was the first dry day that we have had this week, I decided to go back to Lurgan Park and have another go at these gulls.  Both ringed adults were present, but no sign of the ringed juvenile.  I was a bit more successful this time, completing the number for the BHG that was ringed on it's right leg -   EW57424 .  I have now reported this one to The British Trust for Ornithology and now await it's ringing details.

I only managed a partial number for the second adult, that bore  the ring on it's left leg.  It is also a British ring, reading London   EN290** , I failed to obtain the last two numbers.  It was not until I had returned home and sifted through the photos, when I realised, I had no full shots of the gull themselves.

After leaving Lurgan Park, I thought I would stop by Kinnego Marina for a quick visit, before returning home and getting ready for work.  I'm so glad that I made this visit, as amoung the four 'Darvic-ringed' Black-headed Gulls from Adam McClure's Study that I recorded, was my first sighting of   2BPP , along with   2BPN ,   2BPT  and   2BPV .

I already knew the history of this gull from Adam's Blog.  He caught it on the 29th October 2014 at Kinnego Marina.  It was already ringed with a Latvian 'metal-ring' and Adam decided to add one of his colour-rings to it's left leg.  In April this year,   2BPP  was spotted at Getlini rubbish dump in the Latvian capital Riga, along with   2AFD  from Antrim Marina.  I am still waiting on the file for this gull from Adam, but will publish all the info once I obtain it.

Black-headed Gull  -  Orange 2BPP  -  Kineggo Marina  (26 Nov 2015)


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