Thursday, 28 April 2016

On the go again...

I have not been out too much of late.  A couple of weeks ago, I woke up on a Saturday morning to much pain as my left shoulder had frozen and I could not move my upper arm.  My doctor put me off work for two weeks and reckoned I had severe Tendonitis.

Having just recently returned to work, I am still feeling slight discomfort.  At the time, I had to change gears in my car with the opposite hand and was hardly able to raise my arm to support my camera.  During those two weeks off, the weather had not changed a great deal, as there was plenty of rain.

      Antrim Marina       
Along with my sister Heather, we visited Antrim Marina on the 14th April.  Over the course of the summer, I am wanting to record all of the resident 'Darvic-ringed' Black-headed Gulls from Adam's Study which are nesting in the area.  Having requested sightings from other observers over the last two summers, not enough records were submitted as to be absolutely sure which birds are definite residents.

During May and June, at least one, possibly two weekly visits will be carried out at the Marina.  On the latest visit, four of Adam's gulls were recorded.  While there, we also spotted two of the 'metal-ringed' drake Mallards from County Monaghan -   5MN 1156  and   5MN 1160 .  One of the few Mute Swans present had a 'metal-ring' -   W34158

Black-headed Gulls present on the 14th April 2016
 2AAV   2AAP   2AAA   2ADD 

Black-headed Gull  -    2AAA   -  Antrim Marina  (14 Apr 2016)

Black-headed Gull  -    2ADD   -  Antrim Marina  (14 Apr 2016)


      Ringing Updates       
From time to time, I log onto the live Norwegian and Polish Ringing Websites, to check up on any possible re-sightings of gulls that I have recorded wintering in Northern Ireland.  There has been no reported sightings on the Polish site, but three of the five 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls from Norway I spotted this winter, have now been re-sighted.

The first of these was   JK35 , which I spotted towards the end of January, in the car park of the Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet at Antrim Town (read here).  My final sighting was on the 13th March 2016 and further visits on the 20th and 27th March proved the gull was no longer present.

  JK35  has now been sighted on three occasions just west of Stavanger - on the 8th, 20th and 22nd April 2016.  It was originally ringed as a chick 6 kms to the east in June 2014.

Black-headed Gull  -    JK35    -  KFC, Antrim Town  (13 Mar 2016)

The second Black-headed Gull to be spotted back in Norway was   J896 .  I sighted this one at Whitehead on the 4th February 2016 (see here), but it had flown away by the time I retrieved my camera from the car.  Despite later visits to Whitehead, I never saw this gull again, so it was just likely passing through.  As it turned out, Cameron Moore also spotted this gull on the same day and he managed to obtain a photo.

  J896  was re-sighted on the 24th April 2016 at Stavanger, where it had originally been ringed in April 2014.

Black-headed Gull  -    J896   -  Whitehead  (03 Feb 2016)
Photo Courtesey of Cameron Moore

The third Black-headed Gull - White J9J2 - was one I spotted on the 26th December 2015, at the Strand Road Jetty in Coleraine, County Londonderry (read here).  I recorded the gull again at the same location on the 30th January 2016, which was it's last re-sighting until being spotted in Oslo on the 25th April 2016.  It was originally ringed just 6 kms away in April 2012.

Black-headed Gull  -  White J9J2  -  Coleraine  (30 Jan 2016)

The Ringing details of the Finnish Common Gull -   ST177.028  have finally arrived.  After much effort in trying to obtain the full ring number, I finally succeeded on February 28th 2016 (read here).  An email from Finland (read here), gave the ringing date and location, but did not state the age of the gull when ringed.

  ST177.028  was ringed on the 6th August 1995 as a first year.  This means it was caught a short time after fledging as it would have hatched from it's egg in June.  My sighting was the first confirmed Finnish Common Gull to be recorded anywhere in Ireland and came 20 years, 6 months and 22 days, since being ringed.

A slight twist to the story of this gull emerged just recently, when Neville McKee sent me an email, stating he also spotted a Finnish Common Gull at the same site (Antrim Marina), in January 2010.  He was unable to obtain the full ring number, but had   ST1  at the start of the number and   8  at the end.

I am convinced, that this was the very same gull.  Neville's email can be read (here).  The oldest Common Gull under the BTO's ringing scheme, was 27 years, 10 months and 19 days.    ST177.028 , has a bit to go to beat this, but I cannot wait till next winter to see if it returns to Antrim Marina again.

Common Gull  -  Finland ST177.028  -  Antrim Marina  (28 Feb 2016)


      Brent Goose & Neck-Collared Greylag Goose       
Over recent weeks, I have made several visits to the Myroe Levels on the edge of Lough Foyle, not very far from the City of Londonderry.  My main aim was obtaining 'colour-ring' numbers on some of the Brent Geese, the flock size being between around 150 to 400 birds on each visit.  I have had a fair bit of success here with over 40 individuals recorded.

Too much blog space and time would be needed to add all of these, but I've decided to include one bird that winter's in France.  On the 18th April 2016, I spotted 'White U - Red 3', one of four new sightings that day.  It was caught and ringed on the 25th October 2014, as a juvenile at Strangford Lough in County Down, here in Northern Ireland.

I've added the first and last dates of sightings, as well as the locations of 'White U - Red 3', since being ringed:-

4th November 2014 to 16th November 2014 - Strangford Lough, County Down, Northern Ireland
28th November 2014 to 16th February 2015 - Havre de Regnéville, Normandy, France
6th March 2015 to 8th April 2015 - Milford Haven, SW Wales
21st October 2015 to 4th November 2015 - Strangford Lough, County Down, Northern Ireland
20th November 2015 to 12th March 2016 -  Havre de Regnéville, Normandy, France
16th March 2015 to 21st March 2016 - Milford Haven, SW Wales 
18th April - Myroe Levels, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

My sighting on the 18th April 2016, shows that this goose is likely to be using Myroe Levels as a last 'staging post', before flying on to the Arctic Circle, via Iceland, to breed. 

Brent Goose  -  White U  Red 3  -  Myroe Levels  (18 Apr 2016)

While at Myroe checking on Brent Geese, I also scope other birds for rings.  These would include Whooper and Mute Swans, Curlews and Oystercatchers, also, Greenland White-fronted and Greylag Geese.  On the 7th April 2016, I spotted a Greylag Goose with an Orange Neck Collar - B|PX.  It was fairly far away from me, but my camera was just able to capture the code on the collar.  I have now received the details for this bird.

It comes from a new ringing programme that was started this winter in the Republic of Ireland, the details of which can be found (here).  B|PX was caught on the 11th March 2016 at Poulaphouca Reservoir, County Wicklow, R. of Ireland.  My sighting is a first for this goose, having flown 219kms / 135 miles in a NNW direction.

These Greylags, must also be using Myroe as a 'staging post' before flying on to Iceland to breed.

Greylag Goose  -    B|PX   -  Myroe Levels  (07 Apr 2016)

Edited Shot From Another Photo


      Saturday 23rd April 2016       
Today, I met up with Adam McClure, to check on a couple of Raven nests, with the possibility of ringing some chicks.  Adam is not keen on cliff work, so we looked in on the nest I found in a small pine plantation on the Kilnacolpagh Road, not very far from Slemish Mountain.  The second nest was in a row of Beech trees on the Mullaghsandall Road near Larne.  Adam spotted Ravens here last year, so we were not sure if they would be present, but they were.

The Kilnacolpagh nest had four half grown chicks and the Mullaghsandall nest contained four young practically ready to fly.  All eight were ringed.

Adam at the Raven nest to ring the young  -  Mullaghsandall  (23 Apr 2016)

One of the young Ravens looking on as Adam made his way back down


      Sunday 24th April 2016       
Today, I decided to go to County Down to see check on the progress of the gulls and terns on Cockle Island at Groomsport, also to look for any ringed birds along the coast and ending the day with a quick visit to my local quarry to see how the young Ravens are getting on.

Many of the Black-headed Gulls are now sitting on nests, some of these are made up with quite substantial amounts of seaweed.  I spent an hour and a half here, especially watching for one of Adam McClure's 'Darvic-ringed' Black-headed Gull's, which I spotted on a previous visit.  There was no sign of it, but it could be a female that is now sitting on eggs.  I would love to obtain the code on the ring, but may try again at a later date.

Arctic Terns and especially Sandwich Terns numbers have increased since my last visit.  Unfortunately, the Sandwich Terns have settled in a dip on Cockle Island, making it impossible to view their legs for rings.  I did however, spot one bird flying in, that was 'metal-ringed'.

Adult Common Gulls and immature Herring Gulls were present here in good numbers.  None of the Herring Gulls bore rings, but five Common Gulls did, two 'Darvics' and three 'metals'.  I was not able to read the 'metals', but I knew one of these was   EX38230 .

This was the gull I spotted on the 5th March 2016, here at Millisle, with the injured leg.  There has been no improvement in the leg, so it's probably broken.  It was ringed as a chick on the nearby Copeland Islands on the 2nd June 2010.  Click on (here) to compare today's photo with that taken on the 5th March.

Common Gull  -    EX38230   -  Millisle  (24 Apr 2016)

The two 'Darvic's' were re-sightings of gulls previously recorded here -   2ADX   and   2ACA .  These are local birds, having been ringed on the nearby Copeland Islands by Shane Wolsey.    2ADX   was ringed as a chick on the 1st June 2010 and    2ACA  was ringed on the 14th May 2010, as an un-sexed adult.

Common Gull  -    2ACA   -  Millisle  (24 Apr 2016)

Common Gull  -    2ADX   -  Millisle  (24 Apr 2016)

I spotted a group of nine Brent Geese on this beach and one of these was ringed - 'White K - Red P'.  I think this is my third sighting of this goose, having initially spotted it at Millisle on the 19th December 2015 and again there on the 3rd April 2016.  Today's sighting at Ballyferris Caravan Park is almost 4 kms south of Millisle. 

Brent Goose  -  White K - Red P  -  Ballyferris  (24 Apr 2016)
Ringed at Strangford Lough Floodgates, County Down on the 21st October 2009

Cloughey Bay
I have seen Brent Geese on this beach a couple of times in the past, but have never had any ringed birds there.  On today's visit, there was one ringed goose in a group of 22 Brents - 'Blue N - Yellow D'.  Graham McElwaine of the Irish Brent Goose Research Group, has sent me this birds file.  The last sighting of this bird was on the 5th February 2016 at Portmarnock in County Dublin, 119 kms / 74 miles to the south-west, where it was originally ringed in March 2015.   

Brent Goose  -  Blue N - Yellow D  -  Cloughey, Co. Down  (24 Apr 2016)
Ringed on the 6th March 2015 at Portmarnock, County Dublin, R. of Ireland

Clinty Quarry, Ballymena
I still had time before it started to get dark, to call into my local quarry, to see how the Raven chicks were progressing.  They are quite large now and there seems to be just the four youngsters in the nest.  Looking at the photo, the top of a fourth head can be seen.  There could be more at the back of the nest lying down, so another visit will have to be made fairly soon in order to be sure.  

Four Raven Chicks  -  Clinty Quarry  -  (24 Apr 2016)


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