|Antrim Marina - 10th June 2016|
On Friday, 10th June, I undertook my latest visit to Antrim Marina. Arriving about 11am, I stayed until 2pm, despite a thunderstorm and the torrential rain that started to pour about 1.15. During the deluge, I noticed a good number of Black-headed Gulls flying to nearby trees and appeared to be enjoying quite a feast.
I reckon they were feeding on caterpillars which had fallen onto the grass below, having been displaced by the force of the raindrops. I've never seen this behaviour before, but it goes to show how some gulls know what to do in such conditions. At the same time, they would also get some shelter from the elements.
I also observed a number of BHGs collecting nest material and then flying towards the 'Torpedo Platform'. Perhaps, some gulls failed on their first attempt at breeding and are now having another go. One of these gulls was 2AAA , though it really is quite late in the season to be trying again.
I re-sighted eight 'Darvic-ringed' BHGs during my visit and nothing new was added to overall table. A couple of gulls that have been recorded during previous summers on random visits, have as yet to be sighted this summer. Despite more of an effort to record the residents, the results so far, just about mirror what was already known.
Black-headed Gulls Recorded Today (10th June 2016)
Resident BHGs - Recorded During The Breeding Season
(Total Sightings / Total Visits)
Today, also saw the presence of the first Black-headed Gull chick of 2016, which has probably fledged from the nearby 'Torpedo Platform'. The next closest Black-headed Gull breeding site, as far as I know, is at Portmore Lough, about 17 kilometres away.
Fledged Black-headed Gull Youngster - Antrim Marina (10 Jun 2016)
The only other ringed bird recorded during my visit was a Mute Swan. I thought it was W34158 , which is blind in the right eye, but when I saw that this swan's eye was normal, I went and collected the camera. On checking the photos, this bird was Z91982 , which I last saw here on the 21st February 2016.
If this swan had been away to breed, then it was not successful, as there are no cygnets. Come to think of it, no ducklings have been seen here either so far this summer.
Mute Swan - Z91982 - Antrim Marina (10 Jun 2016)
|Tesco Warehouse, Antrim Town|
On my way to Antrim Marina, I stopped by the Tesco Warehouse, to check up on the Mediterranean x Common Gull pairing. Once again, there is no sign of them and the nest that they had built, is now completely wrecked.
Scoping around what I could see of the rooftops, most of the Lesser Black-backed Gulls, now have chicks running about. I also noticed some of the Common Gulls also have chicks as well. I am planning to ring young Common Gull at Torr Head and on Rathlin Island and going by the size of these youngsters, I shall have to make visits to the sites fairly soon.
Lesser Black-backed Gulls with young - Tesco Warehouse, Antrim (10 Jun 2016)
|2nd Visit to Inch Island, County Donegal|
On Wednesday 8th June, a second visit was made to Inch Island in County Donegal, to ring terns and gulls. The Tern ringing party were Ken Perry, along with Richard Donaghey, Steven Fyffe, Marina Mulligan and Wildfowl Rangers Andrew Speer, Martin Burke and young Jack. The Gull ringing party were Adam McClure, myself and Ryan Lavery, who acted as scribe for us.
The Tern party 'metal-ringed' a further 154 Sandwich Tern chicks, to add to the 180 that were ringed last week. They also 'metal-ringed' 10 Common Tern chicks, the first so far this season, as these are slightly later nesting birds.
We on the other hand, set about catching Black-headed Gull chicks. 70 youngsters were 'metal & colour-ringed' and four others that I ringed last week, also became the proud owners of a 'Darvic' each. Despite the limited time that we all could spend on the island, as many birds are still on eggs, we all did pretty well. A third and final visit is now planned for the 22nd June.
Although Inch Island is in the Republic of Ireland just over the border from Northern Ireland, Adam reckons this population of BHGs will be an important addition to his study, seeing as it is quite distant from his existing ringing sites. Our thanks to Andrew and Martin for allowing us to participate with the ringing on the island.
I had meant to take some photos before leaving the island, but completely forgot, next time perhaps. In the meantime, I've added some photos that I took from the causeway overlooking Inch Lake, showing the island and the birds on it. As can be seen, I zoomed in from quite a distance.
|A Visit to Glynn|
On the 9th June, I had intended to carry out checks on another couple of Peregrine nest-sites in the County Antrim hills. After driving to these, I couldn't see a thing because of hill fog. It was early in the afternoon and it looked very unlikely that it would clear.
Wondering what to do instead, I decided to drive to Glynn, a small village at the edge of Larne Lough and see if there were any ringed gulls or terns about. On my way, I stopped to check on a small wood and struck lucky, finding another Buzzard nest. This one was high up in a Sycamore tree at the edge of the wood and well concealed by the leaf cover.
Looking through the binoculars, I could not see any chicks, but droppings on the edge of the nest, indicated that it would have at least one youngster. A further visit to this nest in a couple of weeks time, should give me a proper head count.
The timing of my arrival at Glynn, could not have been better. The tide was starting to go out and gulls and terns were arriving to bath at the outlet of a freshwater stream. At first, I scoped from the railway platform, but then decided to move closer to the Lough for better viewing.
This did not please the birds and they all flew off. I positioned myself in a small hollow, which made my silhouette look smaller and waited. Within a short space of time, the gulls and terns started returning. To my surprise, several of the Sandwich and Common Terns were 'metal-ringed', but these were no way close enough to try and obtain numbers.
If some of these terns had been 'colour-ringed', I would have been close enough to obtain the codes. The first 'colour-ring' that I did spot was on a Black-headed Gull. Being orange in colour, I knew this was likely to be another of Adam's Study birds. Although it was quite far away from me, the photos that I took, just revealed the code on the ring - 2BNL .
A short time afterwards, I spotted a 'Yellow Darvic' on a Common Tern. I have yet to record any terns with 'colour-rings' and to my dismay, I could not obtain the code on this one. The tern was standing on seaweed which obscured the ring. It was not until this bird scratched it's head, that I was able to see the ring in full.
I took a couple of quick photos and by the time I had zoomed in, the birds had took off. Looking at the pictures I had taken, nothing on the ring was legible, but seemed to have three characters. Of interest, was the fact it was 'colour-ringed' on it's right leg and most 'colour-ringed' birds would be ringed on their left leg.
Within a short time of reporting 2BNL to Adam, he sent me it's file. The Black-headed Gull was ringed as a chick on the 1st July 2013 on Blue Circle Island on Larne Lough and my sighting today is a first for this gull. The island is just two kilometres away and the gull might well be breeding on the very site it was reared on, although a second island called Swan Island is also close by.
The terns have got me 'fired-up', as I think there could be more 'colour-ringed' birds to be got. I'll try again here in the near future, as I now know how to get fairly close to these birds.
Black-headed Gull - 2BNL - Glynn, Larne Lough (09 Jun 2010)
Common Tern with Yellow Darvic Ring - Glynn, Larne Lough (09 Jun 2016)
|Peregrine Site One - Chick Ringed|
Marc Ruddock, accompanied by Alan Ferguson, travelled up from County Down, to ring my Peregrine chick at Site One on Tuesday morning - 7th June. Using two ropes anchored to boulders, Marc collected the young grine from the nest-ledge and brought it up to the cliff top.
I was given the pleasure of ringing and colour-ringing the young male bird, which adds to my training totals. The colour-ringing was a new experience for me, as these ones are made of metal and are locked by the use of rivets. Once ringed, the youngster's wing length and weight were taken and then Marc replaced it back onto it's nest-ledge, where an unhatched egg was also lying.
My thanks to Marc and Alan, for travelling up so far to do this for me. It was just a pity that there was only the single chick. Marc then had to travel to County Wicklow, to do some survey work, which just show's how far he had come out of his way.
My thanks especially go to the landowners, who I cannot name for site security reasons. They allow me access at all times to survey the site to check that these birds are not being deliberately disturbed.
The photos were taken by Marc.
The photos were taken by Marc.
Peregrine Chick before Ringing - Site One (07 Jun 2016)
This is Me - Site One (07 Jun 2016)
Marc Ruddock (left) and Alan Ferguson (middle) - Site One (07 Jun 2016)
Back on the Nest-ledge - Site One (07 Jun 2016)