Tuesday, 26 January 2016

JK35...


      Black-headed Gull -   JK35         
On Sunday 24th January, after completeing visits to Antrim Marina, Kinnego Marina and Lurgan Park, I popped into the car park at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Antrim on my way back home.  There are always a few Black-headed Gulls to be seen here, but I've had never had any that were ringed, until now.

Around 60 BHGs were present, the most that I have ever seen here.  A few gulls were standing around the car park, but most were feeding on the grass areas.  Picking a spot away from other parked cars, I started throwing bread out of the window.  I soon had about 40 of the gulls around me, while the remaining birds showed no interest and stayed on the grass.

I spotted a Green 'Darvic-Ring' and a few minutes later, I had obtained the code and taken numerous photos.  I knew straight away, that this gull was from Norway, as their colour-rings start with the letter 'J'.  Entering the code onto the Norwegian Ringing Website, I was able to see the history of this BHG.

  JK35  was ringed as chick on the 18th June 2014, on the island of Vassøy, just to the north-east of the City of Stavanger.  It was around 10 months before it was first spotted in the area of Farsund, 112km to the south-east.  It was sighted on three occasions in four days at Farsund, the last date being on the 3rd May 2015.

  JK35  was obviously returning from it's wintering quarters, as 10 days later on the 13th May, it was spotted at Store Stokkavatnet,  a lake on the western outskirts of Stavanger, just 8km from where it was ringed.  The next four sightings, the last being on the 5th June 2015, came from the same lake, showing that this gull spent the summer here.

On the 25th September   JK35   was spotted in Stranraer, a port on the south-west coast of Scotland, 798 kms from the original ringing site.  My sighting on Sunday is the latest, which shows this gull wintered somewhere in Ireland and used Stranraer as a 'stop-over'.

Black-headed Gull  -    JK35   -  KFC, Antrim Town  (24 Jan 2016)

Map Showing The Ringing and Sighting Locations of JK35
Stavanger to the north,  Farsund to the south-east,  Stranraer in Scotland and Antrim, NI.
The distance from the Island of Vassøy, Norway to Antrim is 868km / 539 miles

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Sunday, 24 January 2016

Spanish visitors...


      Today's Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina       
It was a very mild morning for my four hour visit to the Marina and the last spits of overnight rain could be felt as I arrived.  Although it remained dull and cloudy, the light breeze coming in from the Lough, was not as cold as it usually is.  During the week, far less rain fell and this was noticeable as the water level was a good bit lower, allowing me to park the car in my favourite spot.

An estimated 40 Black-headed Gulls were present, but they seemed to be unsettled and kept landing and then taking off again.  I spotted the first Darvic at 09.11,   2ACV , and by 09.15 all the gulls were gone.  All through the early morning, groups of BHGs would come and go.  Around mid-day, the numbers increased to around 150 to 180 birds.

21 out of the 29 'Darvic-rung' gulls spotted this winter, were re-sighted during my visit.    2BRC  appeared for a second week running, it's only other sighting this winter was on the 25th October 2015.  When Adam and I met for the first time on the 1st February 2015, four BHGs were caught by hand and ringed that day.    2BRC  was caught by me and is the reason why I'm so keen to spot it.

I've given up hope of seeing   2AAJ  and   2ABP , having failed to return this winter.    2BRB  is another gull which has not been sighted so far.  Having been ringed on the same day as   2BRC , I re-sighted it on the 8th February and 1st March 2015 and it has not appeared here since.  I have toyed with the idea, that   2BRB  may have used Antrim Marina as a 'stop-over' enroute to it's breeding grounds.

As many BHGs appear to frequent preferred routes while on their migrations, perhaps   2BRB  will arrive here in the next week or two.  A 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gull -   EG55380  is another bird which I believe uses the Marina as a 'stop-over' while on migration.  Having been first recorded on the 23rd of February of the 2013/2014 winter, I re-sighted it again on the 1st March of the 2014/2015 winter.

If this holds true, then   EG55380  should arrive back in the next few weeks.  Mistakenly ringed as a Common Gull chick in 2005, this gull is 4th on my wishlist and is special to me, as it took two winters to obtain it's whole ring number and subsequently learning of the ringing error.

Two other BHGs caught my eye today.  The heads of these two were both very dark, which means that they are already enroute to their breeding grounds.  It may well be possible, due to the very mild winter, many gulls will migrate earlier this spring.

The Swedish-ringed   6438391  was spotted at 11.26 and the juvenile/1st winter   EL72723  was sighted at 12.12.  The second 'metal-ringed' juvenile from Coquet Island in Northumbria has not been since the 27th December and the Icelandic BHG,   571487 , was also absent.  


Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2ACV   2ABN   2AAD   2AAH   2ABK   2BRA   2AAT 
2ANS 2AAC 2AAN 2ADV 2BRC 2AAB 2ADJ
2AAV 2ABA 2ACX 2AAK 2ABS 2AAS 2ABL


Today's Absentees
 T35J   2AAP   2AAA   2AAF   2ABF   2AAR   2AFD   2BRD 


Black-headed Gull  -    2ANS   -  Antrim Marina  (24 Jan 2016)

Black-headed Gull  -    2BRC   -  Antrim Marina  (24 Jan 2016)

Late on in the morning, I saw a man and women walking directly towards me from the direction of the cafe.  I was asked if I was the birdwatcher with the Blog.  This couple were from Spain.  Daniel, had secured a job in Northern Ireland and having an interest in wildlife, searched the internet and came upon my Blog, before arriving to start his new employment.

Daniel was taking his wife to Dublin airport, as she was flying home after a short visit to Northern Ireland.  On route, they decided to call by the Marina to meet me.  He went on to say that he enjoyed reading my Blog.  I was obviously delighted that they took time out to meet me.


      Other Birds At Antrim Marina       
What a day for Mute Swans.  14 and our usual cygnet were present when I arrived.  At 10am another 5 arrived from up-river taking the total to 19.  The two cygnets, which have been coming over the last few weeks, along with their parents, actually flew in from the Lough on their own at 10.23.  About 5 minutes later, a pair of swans swam in from the Lough, presumably the parents.

I was too busy looking for ringed gulls and never noticed the arrival of another 4 swans which took the total to 25, plus the three cygnets.  It has been a long time since this number of swans have been present all at once.  When I first started coming here in September 2013, these sorts of numbers were the norm.

After parking my car, I saw a ringed swan and went straight over to get the number.  To my surprise, it was   W34156 .  I knew that I had not seen this ring in a long time, thinking it was sometime last winter.  On returning home and checking my records, it seems that I have not seen this swan since 23 March 2014.  It had been ringed at the Marina, six days earlier by Ken Perry.

  W34157  and   W34158  were also spotted during my visit, the former having arrived for the first time this winter on the 3rd January.  

Ring of Mute Swan  -    W34156   -  Antrim Marina  (24 Jan 2016)

Mallard numbers were very low again this week.  28 were counted when I arrived and by the time of my departure, the overall numbers were around 40.  I also noticed several ducks in the woodland across the river.  Could it be possible, that these are already looking for sites to nest?  Perhaps the mild weather, has set them into breeding mode.  No rings were spotted on any of the ducks at the Marina.

Common Gull numbers were again very low.  Only two adults arrived today and this week for the first time, 3 juvenile/1st winter birds were seen.  This equals the number of juveniles present last winter.  There was no sign of the Scottish-ringed female either.  Just after 11am, the two Herring Gulls arrived and remained throughout the rest of my visit.

11 Jackdaws, 4 Magpies and 2 Hooded Crows were the only large birds to be seen, while 6 Pied Wagtails and 3 Chaffinches represented the only smaller species.

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      Saturday 23rd January 2016       
Today, I intended to visit the former Belfast Waterworks, Millisle, Ballywalter and make a first ever visit to Portavogie.  I ended up spending so much time at the Waterworks and Millisle, by the time I got to Ballywalter it was getting dark and failed to get to Portavogie.

Belfast Waterworks
Well over 300 Black-headed gulls were present on the two large lakes/ponds, along with much smaller numbers of Common Gulls and Herring Gulls.  On the upper lake, I spotted a 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gull and while scoping the ringed, I could make out the word Iceland.

I was trying to edge closer for photos, when a dog scared all the gulls away.  I waited for ages for the gulls to settle back down again and eventually spied my ringed gull for a second time.  It was further away from me and while trying to edge closer, all the gulls flew off for a second time.  A woman, along with her daughter, had started feeding the ducks and gulls further down the footpath.  I waited for a long time, but my ringed gull did not appear again.

Going down to the lower pond, I spotted another 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gull, this time it was a British BTO ring.  It was practically impossible trying to obtain the number on the ring.  This section of the waterworks is very popular for folk feeding the birds.  Every time, I located my ringed gull, it was off again a few seconds later.

I spent ages on this gull, having managed to get   ET9***2 , I wanted to complete the number and in the end gave up.  On each of three occasions, while resting the camera on top of the telescope for support, my gull flew off before I could get photos of it and it's ring.

Millisle
Arriving here, the tide was well on ithe way out and a good number of gulls were looking for food on the beach.  I noticed a good number of Common Gulls about, along with Black-headed and Herring Gulls.  No rings were to be seen, except on the Common Gulls.

Four of the Common Gulls had 'Darvic-rings' and a fifth had a 'metal-ring', which was a British BTO ring.  Two of the colour-ringed gulls -   2ADX   and   2A60  were re-sightings of birds that I first spotted here on the 24th December 2015.    2ACA   and   2ABF   are both new sightings to me.  Both of these are from Shane Wolsey's study on the nearby Copeland Islands.  I have reported both rings to the BTO and now await for their details.

I notice that the ring of   2ACA   is in very poor condition.  It seems to be disintegrating at it's base.  If this continues, then the ring may eventually fall off.  I hope it is not a problem with the materials used to manufacture these rings.  If so, the effort used in Shane's study, will go to waste.

The 'metal-ringed' Common Gull is interesting.  Having previously obtained partial numbers for two of these gulls here, I initially thought I had one of them today.  Again, I spent a lot of time trying to obtain photos of the number, but this Common Gull was very wary.  Despite the bread I was throwing out from the car window, this one always kept it's distance.

On returning home and checking the photos, I discovered that this was a new sighting of a 'metal-ringed' Common Gull, my third for this site.  This 'upside-down' ring, made me think of the Copelands straight away.    EG55*** , also reminded me of the Black-headed Gull -   EG55380  - at Antrim Marina.

Comparing the '55s' on both rings, I noticed that the first 5 on both, matched each other, as they were slightly off line with the rest of the number.  If I'm right, then today's Common Gull would have been ringed on the Copelands possibly in 2005, using the same batch of rings.    

The Rings of the Common Gull (Left) and the Black-headed Gull (Right)

Common Gull  -  London   EG55***   -  Millisle  (23 Jan 2016)

Common Gull  -    2ACA   -  Millisle  (23 Jan 2016)

Common Gull  -    2ABF   -  Millisle  (23 Jan 2016)

Common Gull  -    2ADX   -  Millisle  (23 Jan 2016)

Common Gull  -    2A60   -  Millisle  (23 Jan 2016)

Ballywalter
By the time I got to Ballywalter, it was starting to get dark and the rain was falling quite steadily.  I did scope a few Great Black-backed Gulls and some Oystercatchers, but no rings.

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      Sunday 24th January 2014       
After completing my four hour visit to Antrim Marina, I drove to the sites at Kinnego Marina and Lurgan Park.  The Marina at Kinnego remains pretty flooded and the Black-headed Gulls were a long way off on the only section of the jetties free of water.  Despite my best efforts to tempt them with bread, they remained stationary.

At Lurgan Park, the gulls were constantly being fed on the water.  I needed the gulls out, so I could view their legs, with very few obliging.  After a while, when people moved away, the gulls were so 'breaded' out, I could not persuade them to exit the water with my offering.

Whenever, I go home from these sites, I always call by the car park of the Kentucky Fried Chicken at Antrim Town.  There are always a few gulls to be seen here.  Today, I struck lucky, as I spotted a Black-headed Gull with a Green Darvic.  Within minutes, I had obtained the code and took several photos.

  JK35  was very nervous, which tells me, this gull is a recent visitor here.  This one is my fourth Norwegian Black-headed Gull to be spotted this winter.  After entering it's details on the Norwegian Ringing Website, I gained instant access to the history of this bird.

I will post an article tomorrow for this Black-headed Gull which was ringed as a chick on the 18th June 2014.  There has been numerous re-sightings and I have yet to go through them properly.   

Black-headed Gull  -    JK35   -  KFC, Antrim Town  (24 Jan 2016)

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Sunday, 17 January 2016

Flooding Eases...


      Today's Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina       
It was a fairly mild morning at the Marina today.  During the week, there was far less rain and this was noticeable, as the water levels were down by a foot or two.  Later in the morning, the sun finally appeared through the blanket of clouds, thus making our visit today quite pleasant.

Around 200 Black-headed Gulls were present, with around half at the Marina and the rest on the nearby golf course, which had large pools of rain-water which had not drained.  The overall number of gulls fluctuated throughout the morning and at times, non were present.  When we departed at 1.20pm, only 50 to 60 BHGs remained.

Of the 29 Darvics recorded this winter, 24 were re-sighted today.  Of real interest, was the re-sighting of   2BRC .  Last Sunday, I mentioned that this gull had only been recorded the one time and that was on the 25th October.  It was the last of the Darvics to be spotted at 12.53 standing on the long jetty.  I only just managed to get a photo before it flew off, not to be seen again.

There was still no sign of the two gulls that are now well overdue.  If either of them had returned, I'm sure I would have spotted them by now.  There was no sign of the two foreign 'metal-ringed' BHGs from Iceland and Sweden.  Only one of the two 'metal-ringed' youngsters appeared today,   EL72723 .

I noticed that the head of   2AAB , is starting to get darker, a sign that the breeding season is approaching.  A couple of the gulls were also going through their courtship displays, perhaps just 'warming up' before the serious business starts.


Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2ABN   2AAR   2ABK   2AAP   2ABF   2ACV   T35J   2ABL 
2AAS 2AAN 2BRA 2AAH 2AAT 2AAC 2AAA 2ANS
2ABS 2ACX 2AAB 2AAD 2ADJ 2ADV 2AAK 2BRC


The Absentees
 2ABA   2AAF   2AAV   2AFD   2BRD 

Black-headed Gull  -  2BRC  -  Antrim Marina  (17 Jan 2016)


      Other Birds At Antrim Marina       
Mallard numbers were very low again this week, with 15 to 20 on our arrival.  This rose to about forty by the time we departed.  A 'metal-ringed' male was seen several times, but unfortunately, I could not obtain the full number.  All I got was   5MN 11** .  On one occasion while scoping the ring from a distance, I thought I could see a '6' at the end of the sequence.

If this turns out to be correct, it means that this is a new male.  The two males that I have recorded this winter were ringed   5MN 1173  and   5MN 1192 .  Today's duck showed all the signs of being a new arrival, as it would quickly re-enter the water whenever folk got near it.  I will try again on next Sunday's visit.

Only 10 Mute Swans and our normal cygnet, were present today, compared to the 19 and 3 cygnets that were here last Sunday.  I'm fairly certain, that all came ashore at one point or another.  Three 'metal-rings' were observed -   Z91982 ,   W34157  and   W34158 .

Common Gull numbers were also down, with a single adult and two juvenile/1st winter birds.  Overall, the number of Common Gulls this winter, is well down compared to last winter.  The large male 'metal-ringed' Common Gull, has yet to appear.  The two Herring Gulls arrived independently of each other about mid-morning and remained throughout the remainder of our visit.

2 Hooded Crows and 9 Jackdaws were the only large birds to be recorded, while 5 Pied Wagtails were the only smaller species.  

My Sister - Heather - Trying to Loose More Skin from Her Fingers

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      Ringing Details Received       
On Friday, I finally received the details of the Common Gull 2ADX, from The British Trust for Ornithology.  I spotted this one on Christmas Eve at Millisle in County Down.  I knew it was from Shane Wolsey's Study on the nearby Copeland Islands, but despite emailing Shane, I have still had no reply.

2ADX was ringed as a chick on the 1st June 2010 on Big Copeland Island, which is situated just 8km to the north.  Shane commenced his Study in 2009 using Yellow Darvics, but switched to Blue Darvics in 2010, as they showed up better on the gulls legs.  This gull now takes my total to 7 from Shane's Study.

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Friday week ago, my car failed it's MOT and I'm temporarily off the road, therefore a quiet week for me.  My re-test is on Tuesday morning and if all goes well, I can get out and about again.  Thanks to my sister, we still got the weekly visit to Antrim Marina done in her car.

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Sunday, 10 January 2016

Marina Flooded...


      Today's Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina       

On arriving at Antrim Marina, the water level was not quite as high as I was expecting it to be, although it was higher than I've ever seen it.  On the News during the week, it was stated that the water level in Lough Neagh, was at it's highest in thirty years.

All the jetties were affected by the flood water and even the long wooden jetty which normally escapes the flood waters, was being washed over by the waves.  During the summer, the normal water level under the long jetty, would be a good four to five feet lower.

I couldn't park in my ususal spot, which is to the left of the concrete jetty.  This meant I had to scope the gulls from a slightly longer distance.  My task of obtaining ring numbers, was awkward right from the start.  With 200+ Black-headed Gulls present when I arrived, this number remained constant throughout my four hour visit.

The 'metal-ringed' gulls gave me the greatest problem.  With two youngsters and two foreign ringed gulls, which I knew of, meant I had to obtain their numbers in order to see 'who was who'.  There was also the possibility that a 'new ring' may be present.  Despite spotting a youngster at 09.46, it took until 12.09 before I could confirm a number -   EL72723 , ringed as a chick in County Donegal in June 2015.

The foreign ringed gulls from Iceland and Sweden, have slightly taller rings, than the British-rung birds.  I kept seeing these rings all morning and eventually confirmed both gulls in quick succession.  The Swedish   6438391  at 10.57, followed by the Icelandic   571487  at 10.59.

27 out of the 29 'Darvic-rung' gulls which I have recorded so far this winter, were re-sighted today.  With so many gulls about, my hopes were high for spotting   2ABP  or   2AAJ , both well overdue to return here.  By the time of my departure, neither bird was sighted.

  2AAF , has got my mind wondering now, being 5 weeks since it's last re-sighting.  This is one of those gulls, much like   2AAT  &   2AAP , who are consistently present.    2BRC  was first sighted this winter on the 25th October, but for some reason, has not been seen since. 


Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2AAR   2ADV   2ABK   2AAT   2ACV   2BRA   2AAD   2ABN   2ABF 
2AAP 2AAA 2ACX 2AAS 2ADJ 2AAB 2ANS 2AAN 2AAH
2ABL 2AAC 2AFD 2AAK 2ABA T35J 2BRD 2AAV 2ABS


The Absentees
 2AAF   2BRC 


Black-headed Gull  -    2ABA   -  Antrim Marina  (10 Jan 2016)


      Other Birds At Antrim Marina       
13 Mute Swans, plus our regular cygnet were present when I arrived.  The pair with the two cygnets arrived from up-river soon after.  These two youngsters are becoming very confident with what goes on around the Marina and are now venturing away from the water.  Both are less wary of people now compared to when they first appeared here.  Two rings were spotted, but I could only get the number of one of these -   W34158 .

Mallard numbers were even lower this week, compared to last week.  With 19 counted on my arrival, 37 was the maximum number around 12pm.  The drake   5MN 1192 , was sighted at 11.10, but no sign of the ringed female this week.

A single adult Common Gull, when I arrived, was joined by another two soon after.  At 9.36, what would probably be the usual juvenile/1st winter Common Gull arrived.  A 2nd juvenile appeared just before I departed at 1pm.  The Scottish ringed female -   EY64036  - was sighted at 12.52, having last been seen here on the 11th December 2015.

The first of the two Herring Gulls was spotted at 9.46, the second arriving 10 minutes later.  A juvenile/1st winter Herring Gull arrived at 11.34.  All of the Common and Herring Gulls remained throughout my visit.

A pair of Hooded Crows, a single Rook and 11 Jackdaws were the only larger birds spotted, while two Pied Wagtails represented the smaller species.


The photos above and below, shows the extent of the flooding at the Marina.  The two white bollards on the extreme left of the above picture, is where I normally park my car.  The railings poking out of the water belong to the concrete jetty.  The photo below shows the waves washing over the long wooden jetty, which is to the left of my parking spot.

These two jetties are the favourite perching spots for the gulls and where I park places me in a central position to scope or take photos to the left or right - but not today.  I had my work 'cut out' for me on this visit, but I managed quite well in the end.


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      Saturday 9th January 2016       
I was quite late getting away today, as the fairly heavy rain did not cease until about 1.30pm, as forecasted.  Whitehouse Lagoon, the Whiteabbey Shoreline and Carrickfergus, were the chosen destinations.

At Whitehouse Lagoon, the tide was slowly starting to go out.  Many of the gulls present, were bobbing about on the water and I ended up staying here for quite a period of time.  Only a couple of small areas were clear of water.  On these, around 50 to 60 Ostercatchers were present, along with Black-headed and a few Common and Herring Gulls.  A handful of Redshank and singles of Godwit, Curlew and Greenshank were also to be seen.

I re-sighted the Icelandic colour-ringed Oystercatcher, which I first recorded here on the 6th September 2015.  I also spotted two 'metal-ringed' Oystercatchers.  I took photos of both rings.  As the tide receeded, these birds moved further away and I knew further photos would be of no use.

Looking at the photos after returning home, both were BTO rings, the first ring had been fitted upside-down (a Copeland bird???) and I only managed to get 'FA' and '83'.  The ring would be 2 letters followed by 5 numbers.  On the second ring, which was fitted the right-way up, I only got '85' in the sequence.

A 'metal-ringed' Herring Gull was also spotted, but it was too far away to scope or photograph.  I was hoping to get 'Darvic-ringed' Black-headed Gulls from Adam's study.  As the tide went out, more and more legs became visible - no rings spotted.

Icelandic colour-ringed Oystercatcher  -  Whitehouse Lagoon  (09 Jan 2016)

At the Whiteabbey shoreline, I scoped plenty of gulls, Oystercatchers, Turnstones, a few Redshank and two Curlews.  One 'metal-ringed' Oystercatcher was spotted, but was far too far away even to attempt obtaining the number.

At Carrickfergus, where I have spotted four of Adam's BHGs in the past, the only one present today was   2ADD  at the harbour.  The light was starting to fade while I checked the beach, but no rings were to be found on the Black-headed Gulls, 10 Turnstones and two Common Gulls.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ADD   -  Carrickfergus Harbour  (09 Jan 2016)

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Friday, 8 January 2016

Ringing Update...


      Ringing Details Received       

At last the ringing details for some of my recent sightings have started to arrive from The British Trust for Ornithology.  The Christmas Holidays must be well and truly over.
 
Oystercatcher  -  FH84092
I have been eagerly waiting for the ringing details of this one, the BTO having emailed me last week to state my sighting of this bird had been accepted.

Initially, having spotted this 'metal-ringed' Oystercatcher, a man and his dog scared this bird off, along with the rest of the Waders that were on the shoreline at Sandy Bay in Larne.  After completing my four hour weekly visit to Antrim Marina on the 27th December 2015, I drove down to Sandy Bay and made another attempt at obtaining the ring number.

After locating this Oystercatcher, I was persistent in trying to scope and photograph the ring.  Although this bird was standing on one leg having a rest, it soon tired of me edging closer to it and then moved off onto the surf and started to feed.  While in the water, I kept on scoping and saw the first two letters on the ring 'FH'.  Just as well I got this, as when I checked my photos at home, I only had the 5 numbers which follow on from the first two letters.  The whole number was -   FH84092 .

However, the first number looked a bit dubious.  To me, it looked like an 8, but might possibly have been a 3.  Having sent copies of the photos to fellow 'Ring Watchers', Graham Prole and Adam McClure, both agreed it looked like an 8 and I should report the bird to the BTO.

It was well worth the effort in obtaining this ring number, as this Oystercatcher was not ringed locally.  It was ringed as a chick on the 14th June 2014 at North Ronaldsay, Orkney Islands, Scotland, by a member from The North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory.  The distance was given as 540km / 335 miles in a South-south-west direction and 561 days after being ringed.

Oystercatcher  -  London    FH84092   -  Sandy Bay, Larne  (27 dec 2015)
North Ronaldsay, Orkney Island to Sandy Bay, Larne  (540km / 335miles SSW)


Herring Gull  -  GA00153
It took two attempts to obtain the full ring number for this Herring Gull that I spotted at Millisle in County Down.  The ring on this gull was put on up-side down and on my first visit to Millisle on the 19th December, I could only get a partial number -   GA0**** , missing the final four numbers on this British ring.

I decided to have a second go on Christmas Eve and despite bright sunshine, was able to complete the number -   GA00153 .  Now, having this gull's ringing details, I got an unexpected surprise.  It was ringed on the 22nd June 2005 as a chick on the nearby Copeland Islands, situated 8km to the north.

The surprise, it was supposed to be a Lesser Black-backed Gull and not a Herring Gull, which my photo clearly shows it to be.  This is now the second identification mistake concerning gulls ringed on the Copelands, that I have discovered.  The first was the Black-headed Gull that I recorded at Antrim Marina, which should have been a Common Gull (see 22 Mar 2015 and 01 Mar 2015).

Both of these mistakes were probably made by the same ringer, coincidentally on the same date 22nd June 2005, with both gulls having their rings placed up-side down.  I have pasted the recovery details for the two gulls below.

Herring Gull  -  GA00153

Dear Gareth D.A. Platt
Thank you for taking the time to report to us details of a bird ring you found. Information about this bird and its movements is given below.
Ringing Scheme: London Ring Number: GA00153 Species of bird: Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
This bird was ringed by Copeland Bird Observatory as age nestling, sex unknown on 22-Jun-2005 time unknown at Big Copeland Island, Down, UK
OS Map reference IJ5883 accuracy 0, co-ordinates 54deg 40min N 5deg 33min W accuracy 0.
It was found on 24-Dec-2015 time unknown at Millisle, Down, UK
OS Map reference IJ6075 accuracy 0, co-ordinates 54deg 36min N 5deg 31min W accuracy 0.
Finding condition: Sight record by non-ringer
Finding circumstances: Field Record
Extra Information: -
It was found 3837 days after it was ringed, 8 km from the ringing site, direction SSE.


Black-headed Gull  -  EG55380

Dear Gareth D A Platt
Thank you for taking the time to report to us details of a bird ring you found. Information about this bird and its movements is given below.
Ringing Scheme: London Ring Number: EG55380 Species of bird: Common Gull (Larus canus)
This bird was ringed by Copeland Bird Observatory as age nestling, sex unknown on 22-Jun-2005 time unknown at Big Copeland Island, Down, UK
OS Map reference IJ5883 accuracy 0, co-ordinates 54deg 40min N 5deg 33min W accuracy 0.
It was found on 23-Feb-2014 time unknown at Antrim Marina, Antrim, UK
OS Map reference IJ1485 accuracy 0, co-ordinates 54deg 42min N 6deg 14min W accuracy 0.
Finding condition: Sight record by non-ringer
Finding circumstances: Field Record
Extra Information: -
It was found 3168 days after it was ringed, 45 km from the ringing site, direction W.

Herring Gull  -  London    GA00153   -  Millisle, County Down.
 Map Showing the Copeland Islands to Millisle.


Common Gull  -  Yellow 2BBC
No surprises with this Common Gull, which I spotted at Millisle on the 19th December 2015.  Shane Wolsey emailed the gull's details and it was as I expected, one of the initially ringed birds from his colour-ringing project on the Copeland Islands.

  2BBC  was ringed as an adult (probably breeding), on the 23rd June 2009.  18 Common Gulls were ringed that year with 'Yellow-Darvics' (12 adults and 6 chicks).  The decision was taken to switch to 'Blue-Darvics' after this, as they would show up better on the gulls greenish-yellow legs.

Big Copeland Island is only 8km to the north from Millisle (map above).  There have been numerous re-sightings of the gull at Millisle, the last having been reported on the 28th March 2013.

Many thanks to Shane for these details.

Common Gull  -    2BBC   -  Millisle  (19 Dec 2015)


Black-headed Gull  -  EG55718
On my first ever visit to Donaghadee on Christmas Eve, I spotted this Black-headed Gull a short distance away from the harbour.    EG55718  now becomes the 2nd oldest BHG on my records.

At 9 years, 6 months and 14 days since being ringed as a chick on the Copeland Islands, it just beats the Icelandic-ringed   537949 , which I spotted at Victoria Park in Belfast, by 22 days (see my last post).  The Copelands are situated just 4km / 2½ miles to the north of Donaghadee, so this BHG is very much a local bird.

Black-headed Gull  -  London    EG55718   -  Donaghadee, County Down  (24 Dec 2015)
 Map Showing the Copeland Islands to Donaghadee

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      Thursday 7th January 2016       
Today, I popped down to the coastal villages of Glenarm and Carnlough.  Other recent visits here were not reported, as nothing was found.  My target though, was the Black-headed Gull   260D  from Eoin McGreal's study at Lough Mask in the Republic of Ireland.  I try to re-sight this gull at least once a month, as it winter's at Glenarm Harbour.

On today's visit, I did re-sight   260D  and discovered what may be the reason for not seeing this gull for a while.  It has obviously suffered some kind of injury to it's left leg.  Looking at the knee and ankle joints, they are both out of shape and perhaps swollen.  The lower leg is now splayed out to the left.

  260D  has probably 'laid-low', while recuperating, hence the non-sightings.  On today's visit, it certainly looks and flies very well and seems to be healthy enough otherwise.

Black-headed Gull  -    260D   -  Injured Left Leg   (07 Jan 2016)

At Glenarm Harbour, I also spotted a 'metal-ringed' Herring Gull, but it flew off before I could get near it.  At Carnlough Beach, I spotted another 'metal-ringed' Herring Gull, also a 'metal-ringed' Common Gull.  Both were too far away, to even attempt to get the numbers.

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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Ringing Update...


      Ringing Details Received       
During my visit to Victoria Park in Belfast on Christmas Day, I spotted a 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gull.  Having successfully pieced the ring number together from a series of photos, I reported this gull to the Icelandic Ringing Scheme at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History.

The ringing details arrived with me yesterday.    537949  was ringed as a chick on the 2nd July 2006, in the area of a town called Húsavík, which lies on the North Icelandic coast.  I sent another email enquiring if there had been any previous sightings of this BHG since it was ringed.  My sighting was the first for this gull.

As of the 25th December 2015,   537949  is 9 years, 5 months and 23 days old.  This is the second oldest BHG that I've spotted, which is of known age.  The oldest I have recorded was ringed as a chick in 2003, also in Iceland and was a recent arrival at Antrim Marina for a third winter running.

It may well be possible, that   537949 , has been wintering every year at Victoria Park since 2006 and remained un-detected until now.  This will be another one to watch out for next winter.  This is my 3rd 'metal-ringed' BHG to be recorded this winter, the other two are currently at Ballycastle and Antrim.

The distance from Húsavík to Victoria Park is 1,414km / 879 miles in a south-eaterly direction.

Black-headed Gull  -  Iceland   537949   -  Victoria Park  (25 Dec 2015)

Húsavík, Iceland to Victoria Park, Belfast  -  1,414km / 879miles

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