Sunday, 13 December 2015

Now A German BHG...


      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina       
This week, I paid two visits to Antrim Marina.  On Friday the 11th December, I called by for a two hour visit between 13.15 and 15.15.  On Sunday the 13th December, I carried out my normal weekly visit, but did not arrive until 10.30 this morning, as I was not well yesterday evening.  I departed at 13.20, instead of the normal 1pm.

Friday 11th December
My aim on this visit today, was to try and complete the 'metal-ring' number of the young Black-headed Gull   E**3763 .  This gull has been present, if but briefly, during my previous two Sunday visits.

During my visit today, I spotted a young 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gull and started taking lots of photos of the ring.  On checking some of the photos while on site, I thought to myself, 'Happy Days', I had the missing letter and first number.

On returning home and sorting through all the photos, I realised the ring number was not the same as the gull that I was after, but in fact, it was   EL72723 .  This is the young gull that I recorded here at the Marina on the 4th October 2015 and I had not seen it again, until now.  The wait continues to complete the number for   E**3763 .

Black-headed Gull  -  London EL72723  -  Antrim Marina  (11 Dec 2015)

While at the Marina, I re-sighted 17 of the 29 'Darvic-ringed' Black-headed Gulls from Adam's Study, which I have recorded so far this winter.  The Swedish-ringed BHG   6438391 , also appeared briefly, but no sign of the recent Icelandic arrival -   571487 .

1st Winter Black-headed Gull  -  Orange 2ANS  -  Antrim Marina  (11 Dec 2015)


Black-headed Gulls Present on Friday (11th December 2015)
 2ANS   2ABL   2AAP   2AAT   2AAR   T35J   2AAH   2BRA   2AAN 
2AAK 2ABN 2AAB 2ABK 2AAD 2AAS 2AAC 2ACV


Friday's Absentees
 2AAA   2ADJ   2ABS   2ABA   2AAF   2ABF 
2AAV 2ACX 2ADV 2AFD 2BRC 2BRD


No effort was made in recording other birds while I was at the Marina, but I also spotted the Scottish-ringed Common Gull   EY64036 .  She was one of 4 adult and a juvenile/1st winter Common Gulls, which were present during my visit.

Common Gull  -    EY64036   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (11 Dec 2015)

Sunday 13th December
There was a hard frost last night and it could still be felt when I arrived at the Marina about 10.30 this morning.  There was a thin layer of cloud and by the time I departed at 13.20, a few spits of rain started to fall.  There was no wind and the water on the Lough was calm.  No sister again today, as she was also unwell last night.

A good number of Black-headed Gulls were dotted around the Marina on my arrival  and a head count gave a total of 83.  The total reached the 150+ mark around midday, before dropping back to around 90.

18 out of the 29 Darvic-ringed BHGs, so far recorded this winter, were re-sighted today. Five of these -   2AAA ,   2ADJ ,   2ABS ,   2ACX  and   2BRD  - were recorded today, but were absent on Friday. White T35J,   2AAC ,   2ABK  and   2ACV , were present on Friday, but not seen today.

It was good to see   2ABS  back again, as it has been absent over my last 7 visits (including Friday past).  Two weeks ago, I stated that I was starting to worry about this one, as my last sighting of it was on the 25th October.  This gull is normally an 'ever-present' at the Marina.

I spotted a 'metal-ringed' youngster when I arrived.  It was standing on the long wooden jetty, but flew off towards Antrim Town and never reappeared by the time I departed.  As there are two ringed youngsters about at present, I'm still left with one incomplete ring number.

The Swedish-ringed BHG   6438391 , was spotted at 11.42, but again, there was no sign of the Icelandic-ringed   571487 .

There is still no sign of   2AAJ , which is due to arrive and if it is not back by next Sunday, will be running late.    2ABP  has yet to arrive and should have been back by mid October.

While I was at Carrickfergus yesterday, I spotted   2ADD , which winters there and breeds here on Lough Neagh.  He'll arrive back here in late February or early March.  Apart from the residents here at the Lough,   2ADD  is the only gull that can be seen in it's winter and summer locations.     


Black-headed Gulls Present Today (13th December 2015)
 2BRA   2AAA   2AAT   2ANS   2AAK   2AAR   2AAS   2AAH   2AAB 
2AAN 2ABL 2ACX 2AAP 2AAD 2BRD 2ABN 2ABS 2ADJ


Today's Absentees
 T35J   2AAC   2ABK   2ABA   2AAF   2ABF   2AAV   2ACV   2ADV   2AFD   2BRC 


Black-headed Gull  -    2ABS   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (13 Dec 2015)


      Other Birds At Antrim Marina       
Only three adult Common Gulls and one juvenile were seen during my visit.  It was just as well that I stayed till 1.20, as the Scottish-ringed Common Gull   EY64036  arrived at 1.10.  The two Herring Gulls that I saw last Sunday, are probably the same two that were present today.  Again, they kept their distance from each other.  One of these is getting quite bold, as it perched on the bollard right in front of my car.

Herring Gull  -  Antrim Marina  (13 Dec 2015)

9 Mute Swans and the cygnet, were later joined by another two adults.  Approaching 1pm, a new female along with her two young, swam in from the Lough.  She came in towards the small beach area where some of the swans were standing, but retreated back out to the Lough, along with her offspring.  One of the swans, was being aggressive towards her, with arched wings and a bit of hissing.  Two rings were noted,   Z91982  and   W34158

Mute Swan with her Cygnets retreating to the Lough  (13 Dec 2015)

Only 18 Mallards were counted when I arrived, though numbers slowly increased with birds flying in from the Lough.  Overall numbers were still well down by the time I departed, with only 53 ducks noted.  Neither of the ringed ducks from County Monaghan were seen today.

The only other larger birds seen today was the Jackdaws.  The only small birds, were a pair of Pied Wagtails and a single Goldfinch.  This is only the second time, that I have seen Goldfinches here.

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      Ringing Recoveries Received       
Black-headed Gull - London EW45293
On Thursday 3rd December, I visited Kinnego Marina in County Armagh.  My aim, here was to complete the ring number of an adult Black-headed Gull, as I was missing one digit from completing the whole sequence -   EW3*806  .

Unfortunately, despite the presence of over 100 BHGs, I could not locate the gull I was looking for.  During my visit, I spotted a juvenile/1st winter BHG with a 'metal-ring', which I had not seen before.  After taking lots of photos of this gull and it's ring, returning home and sorting through these, I had successfully pieced together the whole number and then reported the gull online to The British Trust for Ornithology.

On Tuesday 8th December, the BTO sent me this youngster's ringing details and this one turned out to be a really good sighting.     EW45293  was ringed as a chick at Loch Borralie, Sutherland, Scotland, on the 27th June 2015.  The distance from the ringing site to Kinnego is 463km / 288 miles, in a SSW direction.  This is quite good a good distance for a British-ringed 1st winter Black-headed Gull.   

Loch Borralie, Scotland To Kinnego Marina, Northern Ireland   (463km/288 miles)

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      Saturday 12th December 2015       
It was a late start for me today, as quite heavy and persistent rain lasted until around 1.30pm.  Once the rain had stopped, I decided to visit Whitehead and Carrickfergus, also the Whiteabbey Shoreline if available light allowed.

I spent quite along time at Whitehead trying to attract a 'metal-ringed' Common Gull, which I had spotted soon after arriving.  I was throwing bits of bread out of the car window and soon had quite an audience.  Black-headed, Herring Gulls of varying ages, adult Common Gulls and a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull, all quickly landed into the seafront car park.  None of these other gulls were ringed.

The ringed Common Gull landed quite a distance from the car and only stood long enough for me to take a photo, before flying off.  I did get a 'metal-ringed' Common Gull here on the 24th October 2015, but it had a crippled left leg and was ringed on the right leg.  The legs of today's gull were fine and it was ringed on the left leg.

I tried to conserve the bread, taking my time throwing bits out, just to keep the gulls interested.  Eventually, the bread was gone and so was my gull, as it never appeared again.  'Metal-rings', they are so frustrating, I'm getting too many gulls and Oystercatchers with these and in most cases, not able to get close enough to read the numbers.

'Metal-ringed' Common Gull at Whitehead  (12 Dec 2015)

So, another 'metal' passes me by, unlike my next 'ringed' Common Gull, hooray, this one was colour-ringed!

Common Gull  -    2A06   -  Carrickfergus Harbour, Co. Antrim  (12 Dec 2015)

While parking at Carrickfergus Harbour, I could see a number of Black-headed Gulls and a couple of Common Gulls, standing around the car park and on the frontal railings.  I chose to ignore these, as I knew they would be quite used to people and cars moving about.

I decided to scope the small flock of gulls perched on the opposite side of the harbour, just in case anyone would scare these off.  This was a good decision, as I spotted a Common Gull with an 'Orange Darvic'   2A06 .  I quickly went back to the car to grab the camera and get a couple of photos, happy days!, I got my gull.

After returning home, I looked up the number on the cr-birding site and discovered that this gull was ringed by the North Thames Gull Group.  The Group cannon-nets gulls on rubbish dumps around the London area.  I reckon this Common Gull has been caught and ringed this way.  I've reported the gull to the Group and the BTO and now await a reply. 

I was kneeling when I took the photos of the Common Gull, but as I stood up again, there was a 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gull perched on the railings, just a few feet to my left.  I immediately started to take photos and then it flew off.  Out came a new loaf, which I purchased at a filling station on my way to Carrick.

This got the gulls going.  Not only, did I get loads of photos of this foreign ringed gull, but I also took photos of three of Adam's Study gulls -    2ADD ,   2ADB  and   2AFB .  Getting back into the car, I looked at some of the photos, to try and identify the country of origin for my newly found gull.


Some of the lettering looked quite worn, but I noticed 'vogel' and thought this could be German.  I called into my sister's on the way home for a coffee and a natter.  While there, I looked through the photos to piece the number together and to my delight, it was complete -   IA114059 .  Heather, checked the address on her laptop and indeed, it was German.

Returning home, I checked Adam McClure's and Graham Prole's Blogs, just in case either of them had come across this gull in the past, but found nothing.  I then checked the BTO's Online Ringing Report for County Antrim and found my Black-headed Gull listed on it.

  IA114059  was ringed as an adult male on the 14th May 2008 at Bohmke Und Werder, which is situated on the coast, in the north-east corner of Germany, very close to the Polish Border.

It was spotted at Carrickfergus Harbour on the 4th November 2013, 5 years, 5 months and 21 days after being ringed.  My sighting of this gull yesterday makes it now 7 years, 6 months and 28 days.  The distance is 1,285 Km / 798 miles from the ringing site to the harbour at Carrick.

This is another example of gulls having their favoured wintering sites and yet another ring to look for next winter.

Black-headed Gull  -  Germany    IA114059   -  Carrickfergus Harbour, Co. Antrim  (12 Dec 2015)

Germany    IA114059   -  A Closer View

Bohmke Und Werder, Germany to Carrickfergus Harbour, Northern Ireland

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