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 

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.


      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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