Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Finally - A Tern...

      Latest Sightings At Antrim Marina       
The two latest visits to Antrim Marina, have been made on consecutive days by Suzanne Belshaw and then myself.  During Suzanne's visit on Thursday 7th July, a total of seven sightings were made, which included the return of   2AAN  and a first ever sighting at Antrim Marina of   2AFR .

I am now convinced, that BHGs are already returning from their breeding sites to spend another winter here.  With the arrival of   2AAT  a couple of weeks ago and now   2AAN , I will re-define next summers breeding records to start on the 3rd week of April until the end of the second week of June.  The last sighting of   2AAN  at the Marina was on the 6th March 2016, just before the breeding season started.

The sighting of the new Black-headed Gull -   2AFR  - is interesting.  Ringed as a chick on the 19th June 2014, at Castle Espie in County Down, this was the gulls first re-sighting.  It is at an age, where it may have bred for the first time this summer.  The question is, was it at the 'Torpedo Platform', somewhere else, or not breeding and just wandering about?  I wonder if this gull will 'hang' about for a while at the Marina?

My thanks to Suzanne as always.  An extra pair of eye's making visits, just goes to show, what can be recorded.

On my visit the next day, Friday 8th July, I re-sighted 12 BHGs, including   2AAN .  I had hoped to re-sight   2AFR , as no photos of it have been taken yet, but it was not present.  Otherwise, my visit was fairly routine.

I have, and I'm sure Suzanne would have noted this as well, there are very few youngsters about.  This makes me think, as was the case last summer, the BHGs have not had a very successful breeding season out on the 'platform'.  I reckon predation by the Lesser Black-backed Gulls, nesting on the rooftop of the Tesco Warehouse in Antrim, is taking it's toll on the nesting gulls and terns.

During our visits, both Suzanne and I, recorded the Common Gull -   2AJP .

Black-headed Gull Sightings  -  Thursday 7th July 2016  (Suzanne Belshaw)
 2AAC   2AAN   2ABK   2ADD   2AFR   2ANS   2BRA 

Black-headed Gull Sightings  -  Friday 8th July 2016 (Myself)
 2ABS   2AAT   2AAF   2ADD   2AAV   2ALH 

Resident BHGs  -  Recorded During the 2016 Breeding Season
 2AAV   2AAP   2AAA   2ADD   2AAH   2ABK   2ABL   2BRA   2AAB   2ADJ 
(6/18) (2/18) (6/18) (10/18) (8/18) (9/18) (8/18) (7/18) (5/18) (11/18)
(6/18) (6/18 (8/18) (7/18) (5/18) (6/18) (4/18) (2/18) (1/18)
(Total Sightings / Total Visits)

Black-headed Gull  -    2AAN   -  Antrim Marina  (08 Jul 2016)

Young Black-headed Gull  -  Antrim Marina  (27 Jun 2016)
(Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Belshaw)


      Ringing Details Received       
In my last post, I reported on the new sightings of four Common Gulls with 'metal-rings', three of these at Millisle and the fourth at Groomsport.  During the week, the BTO sent me the details for the gulls.  As it turns out, all four birds were ringed on the nearby Copeland Islands, pretty much as I had suspected.

What is more interesting, they are the oldest Common Gulls that I have now sighted with BTO rings.  Curious to know if these were first re-sightings for the gulls, I emailed the BTO and they confirmed that all were firsts.  My effort to get the numbers on the 'metals', was well worthwhile.  I have listed them below, in age order.

Common Gull  -    EG55236 
Ringed as a chick on the 14th June 2005, on Big Copeland Island, this gull is now the oldest that I've recorded under the BTO's ringing scheme.  At 11 years and 18 days, it falls a long way short of the Common Gull from Finland that I spotted at Antrim Marina on the 28th February 2016.  This one was twenty years, 6 months and 22 days.

Common Gull  -    EG55652 
Ringed as a chick on the 10th June 2006, on Big Copeland Island.  It is now 10 years and 22 days, since being ringed.

Common Gull  -    EW31160 
Ringed as a chick on the 29th June 2006, on Big Copeland Island.  It is now 10 years and 3 days, since being ringed.

Common Gull  -    EW31140 
Ringed as a chick on the 9th June 2008, on Big Copeland Island.  It is now 8 years and 23 days, since being ringed.  I had assumed, this gull was ringed on the same date as the previous bird, the numbers being so close together, but there was two years of a difference.

Greylag Goose  -    NDD 
During my recent visit to Rathlin Island, on the north coast of County Antrim, I spotted a Greylag Goose with an orange 'neck-collar' at Lough Ushet.  Taking photos from a distance, I just managed to obtain the code, which looked like   N00 , but in fact, turned out to be   NDD .

I sent an email to the new Greylag Goose project in the Republic of Ireland, asking if this goose was one of theirs.  Afterwards, I realised the code was slightly different, not having a 'bar' after the first letter.  I went onto the cr-birding website and entered the code and found a match.  I then emailed Bob Swann from Ross-shire in Scotland, enquiring if the goose was one of his and it was.

  NDD  was caught and ringed as a juvenile female on the 11th November 2014, as a by-catch, with Greenland White-fronted Geese being the main target.  The ringing site was at Ronnachmore, near Bowmore, on the Island of Islay in Argyll, Scotland.  Islay is situated 53kms / 33 miles to the north of Rathlin Island.

My sighting on Rathlin, is the 3rd for this goose.  The first was at Bridgend on Islay, on the 29th September 2015.  It's second sighting was on 2nd May 2016 at Lough Doo, Fair Head on the County Antrim mainland.  Fair Head is the massive headland which faces onto Rathlin Island.

My thanks to Bob Swann and Carl Mitchell for the ringing details and info.


      The Chase for a Common Tern       
Back on the 9th June, I spotted a Common Tern, which bore a 'yellow Darvic' on it's right leg, on the foreshore at Glynn, Larne Lough in County Antrim.  The tern was a fair distance from me and with the photos I took, the code on the ring was not legible.

I have since, made repeated visits in the hope of seeing this tern again.  Every time the tide receds, gulls and terns, arrive to bath where the freshwater Glynn River flows into Larne Lough.  This is always, the best time to look for 'colour-rings'.

During this weekend, we have experienced a fair amount of rain, thus making it impractical to go looking for or checking on nesting birds.  Instead, I went to Glynn on both Saturday and Sunday, 'Ring Watching'.

On Saturday, I spotted another of Adam's 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls.  Just barely obtaining the code, it was   2ANK .  Adam has not sent me the file for this gull yet, but it was ringed as a chick in 2015 on the nearby Blue Circle Island and this was it's first re-sighting. 

Black-headed Gull  -    2ANK   -  Glynn, Larne Lough  (09 Jul 2016)

Persistance, finally paid off on Sunday's visit.  I obtained the code for the 'Darvic-ringed' Common Tern -   PFV .  On checking the cr-birding website, I discovered this tern was ringed as part of the Dublin Bay Birds Project, in the Republic of Ireland.  I emailed Niall Tierny and also reported the tern to the BTO and now await the ringing details.

Common Tern  -    PFV   -  Glynn, Larne Lough  (10 Jul 2016)


      Common Gull at Carnlough Bay       
Each time I am on the East County Antrim Coast checking on nests, I never pass by Glenarm Harbour or Carnlough Bay without checking the gulls for rings.  On Wednesday 6th July, I re-sighted Common Gull   2HTX   at Carnlough.  This is now the 5th time that I have recorded this gull here.

Ringed as a chick on the 2nd June 2011, it is from Shane Wolsey's Study on the Copeland Islands in County Down.

Common Gull  -    2HTX   -  Carnlough Bay  (06 Jul 2016)


      On The Ringing Front       
I have been out and about looking for and checking nests of other species other than raptors and gulls.  I need a range of species and add to my ringing totals, if I am to progress from a 'Trainees Permit' to a 'C Permit.  I am finding this a bit laborious, but it has to be done.

Due to a mixed conflict of interests, I have missed out on the ringing of some chicks, as they were too old and wary, while a couple of other nests had been predated.  Hopefully, by the end of the summer, I will have ringed enough birds to progress, also bearing in mind my past experience of ringing.

Meadow Pipit Nest  -  5 Eggs (12th June) &  5 Young (26th June) About to be Ringed

Black Guillemot Chick Having Just Been Ringed  (06 Jul 2016)

Swallow Chick About to be Ringed


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