Monday, 29 August 2016

Portuguese Gull Returns...

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina (Sunday 28th August)       
A splendid Autumn morning weather-wise, being very mild, sunny and with a slight north-easterly breeze.  Not so good for gulls though, as there wasn't a single bird to be seen until 9.35, when three juvenile Black-headed's arrived.  I recorded my first 'colour-ring' at 09.59, but had to wait until around 10.40, for BHG numbers to increase.

  2AAK  was my second sighting at 10.37 and   2ABF  was the fifth and final gull to be recorded at 11.13.  With the arrival of the trainee canoeists just before 11am, the gulls would not settle, though plenty were in the air overhead.  Once again, I gave up at 12.00

Black-headed Gulls Present Today
 2AAD   2AAK   2ACV   2ADJ   2ABF 

The Absentees
 T35J   2AAT   2AAP   2AAA   2AAH   2AAC   2ABN   2ABK   2ABS 

Other Birds
The Herring Gull pair arrived at their usual time, around 10.00.  Even these birds cleared off, after the canoeists arrived.  An adult Common Gull, the first in several weeks, appeared for a short time, at 10.37, as did a juvenile Herring Gull.

Only two Mute Swans were present on my arrival and the usual trio was complete when a 3rd bird swam in from the Lough at 09.40.  A further three Mute Swans came in from the Lough at 10.15, but there were no rings on any of these birds.

40 Mallards, very quickly increased to over 100 present.  They, along with the swans, do not seem to mind the canoeists as much.  I got to look at most legs on the Mallards, but still no rings.

A maximum of 11 Jackdaws, a juvenile Magpie and a pair of Collard Doves, were the only other species noted during today's visit.

Elim Church & KFC
After completing my visit to Antrim Marina, I drove up to the Elim Church at Parkhall to check on   2AAV  and   JK35   at the KFC outlet.  But neither gull was present, though good numbers of BHGs were at both sites.


      Ringing Details Received       
Adam McClure has now sent me the files for the five 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls that I have recently spotted, all of which were new sightings for me.

  2AVA  was spotted on the Dargan Mudflats at Belfast on the 13th August 2016.  My sighting was a first for this gull, having been ringed as a chick on the 18th June 2013 at Blue Circle Island in Larne Lough.  The distance between the two sites is about 23 kms / 14 miles south-west from where it was ringed.

  2ADR  was spotted at Kinnego Marina on the 14th August 2016.  The gull was ringed as an adult female on the 6th December 2013 at Corbet Lough in County Down.  My re-sighting was the 8th for this gull and only the second record of it being at Kinnego Marina.  Having been recorded here on the 9th October 2015, other previous re-sightings were made at the original ringing site - Jan 2014, Oct 2014, Dec 2014, Jan 2015 (twice) and Feb 2016.

It may be likely that   2ADR , breeds close to Kinnego Marina, hence it's presence, but more summer sightings would be needed to 'cement' the idea.  The distance from Corbet Lough to Kinnego Marina, is about 21 kms / 13 miles in a north-west direction.

  2ALK  was spotted by me twice on the 20th August 2016, firstly at Sandy Bay in Larne and then a short time later, on the shore at Glynn.  It was ringed on Blue Circle Island, which can be seen from Glynn, on the 18th June 2013.  There has only been two previous sightings, both at Glynn on the 30th May 2014 and 27th July 2015.

  2APT  was spotted on the 20th August 2016 on the shore at Whiteabbey.  Having been ringed as a chick on the 23rd June 2015, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre in County Down, my sighting was a first for this gull.  The distance from Castle Espie to Whiteabbey is roughly 21 kms / 13 miles in a north-west direction.

  2CBT  was also a first sighting on the 20th August 2016, again on the shore at Whiteabbey.  It was ringed as a chick on the 24th June 2016 at Castle Espie Wetland Centre, (read the account for   2APT  above).

Sandwich Tern  -  White NZR
Ruben Fijn has sent me the ringing details for the Sandwich Tern - White NZR, which I spotted at Whitehead on the 20th August 2016.  It was ringed as a chick on the 28th June 2013, on the island of Scheelhoek, Haringvliet Inlet, just south of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

My sighting was the third for this tern, the second having been made only five days earlier at Coquet Island, Northumberland, England.  The first sighting was on the 28th June 2015 at Texel, part of a chain of islands on the north coast of Holland.  The distance from the ringing site to Whitehead is about 727 kms / 451 miles in a north-west direction.

I wonder by what route this tern took to get from Coquet Island to Whitehead in just five days!!  These are mostly 'sea-going' birds and I would doubt that it crossed mainland England to get here.  My thanks go to Ruben for the details of this Tern.

Sandwich Tern  -  White NZR
(Blue = Ringing Site,  Red = Locations of Sightings)

Black-headed Gull  -    ST255.167 
I obtained the full number on this 'metal' on the 11th August 2016 at the car park, just opposite Coleraine Harbour.    ST255.167  is no stranger to Coleraine, having been sighted by local birdwatcher John Clarke, last winter.  Unfortunately, John could not obtain the full ring number, having captured   ST***.167 , on his photos.

During the week, I received the ringing details from Finland for this Black-headed Gull.  It was ringed as an un-sexed juvenile, on the 22nd July 2006, just north of the town of Turku in south-west Finland.  As with most 'metals', this is likely to be a first sighting.  The distance is given as 1,801 kms / 1,119 miles in a south-west direction and comes 10 years and 20 days since being ringed.

This one becomes one of the oldest Black-headed Gulls on my records. 

Turku, Finland to Coleraine, Northern Ireland


      Monday 22nd August 2016       
I decided to make a quick visit to Portrush, to see if I could re-sight the young Black-headed Gull which I ringed on the 31st May 2016, at Inch Island in County Donegal.  I wanted to try and finish off the ring number, as I was only able to get a 'partial' -   EZ610**  on the 11th August 2016, when a women and her three kids, scared the gulls away.

During that visit, two Sandwich Terns were amongst the gulls, both of which were 'metal-ringed'.  I failed to obtain the final number on the ring on one of these terns -   DK6678* , but had enough for a ringing report to be produced (see my previous post).  All that I knew of the ring on the second tern, was that it was placed 'upside-down'.

On today's visit to Portrush, I spotted a 'metal-ringed' Sandwich Tern on a roof-top, along with many Black-headed Gulls and a few Common Gulls.  With a lot of effort and patience, I managed to obtain the full number -   DE03433 , on an 'upside-down' ring.  Was this the same bird I spotted on the 11th August?

It took well over an hour to get this number, I needed the tern to move about, so as to obtain photos of the ring from different angles.  It spent most of it's time lying down.  I reported the number to the BTO and have received the ringing details.

  DE03433  was ringed as a chick on the 3rd July 2013, at Lady's Island Lake, County Wexford in the Republic of Ireland.  The distance was given as 334 kms / 208 miles in a northerly direction.  Another good result and my fourth ringed Sandwich Tern in two weeks.

Sandwich Tern  -    DE03433   -  East Strand Car Park, Portrush  (22 Aug 2016)

Lady's Island Lake, County Wexford to Portrush, County Antrim

There was no sign of the young Black-headed Gull that I was looking for.  I did however spot an adult 'metal-ringed' BHG on the other side of the roof-top from where the tern was sitting.  I could not get access to get close enough to take photos of the gull, but is it the same bird from Scotland that was here last winter?


      Saturday 27th August 2016       
Today, I decided to do a re-run of the sites that I visited last Saturday, along the East Antrim Coast.  These were Sandy Bay in Larne, Glynn, Whitehead, Carrickfergus, Whiteabbey, Whitehouse Lagoon and I also included the Dargan Mudflats and the RSPB's Wow Reserve.  The tide was out at all of the sites, but by the time I got to Dargan, it was well on it's way in.

After leaving the RSPB's Reserve, I called into Whitehouse Lagoon again on my way home, to have another look for rings here, as the incoming tide would have forced many species off the mudflats and into the Lagoon.

Sandy Bay, Larne
On last Saturday's visit, I was especially looking for an Oystercatcher that had a 'metal-ring', which spent last winter here, but not a single Oystercatcher was to be seen.  Twelve of these birds were on the rocks close to the 'round tower' today, but none were ringed.  I scoped a number of Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Black-headed Gulls and a single Turnstone and had no luck with these either.

A good mix of gulls and waders, although numbers were a good bit lower than usual.  No Terns today, which was surprising and the only ring spotted was a 'metal' on an Oystercatcher.

A couple of dozen BHGs and a couple of Herring Gulls, but no rings or Terns.  An adult Gannet was sitting on the slipway, perhaps injured in some way, but I left it alone to let nature take it's course.

I checked the gulls at the Harbour and along the beach, but got nothing here either.

Whiteabbey Shoreline
A good mixture of gull species and a few Oystercatchers, with only a single 'colour-ringed' gull being spotted and what a surprise this one turned out to be.

Having spotted a Lesser Black-backed Gull with a 'Black-Darvic', it never even entered my head, I was about to re-sight a bird that I thought, I would never see again.  As soon as I read the code '  F461 ', I knew this was the gull from Portugal that I recorded here at the start of last winter.  Despite all of my visits to Whiteabbey since then, I've never seen this bird again until now.

Only recently, I got in touch with the British Trust for Ornithology, about the very same gull, as I noticed that it was not included on the updated Online Ringing Reports.  It turned out, that the BTO was unaware of the sighting.  I have sent a joint email to RIAS and the BTO, informing them of my latest sighting.  I have also asked RIAS, if there has been any other re-sightings since the 10th October 2016.

Read here (click) and here (click) about this Lesser Black-back on my posts for last autumn.  At that time, I stated that this was my 'gem' for ring-sightings and it still is.  Mainly due to the distance from the ringing site (1,967 kms / 1,222 miles), I'd place it just ahead of my sightings of a 23 year old Sandwich Tern and 20 year old Common Gull. 

One other thing of note, is the colour of the characters on the 'Darvic'.  They are supposed to be Orange, but have now faded to White.

Lesser Black-backed Gull  -    F461   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline  (27 Aug 2016)

Whitehouse Lagoon
I paid two visits to Whitehouse Lagoon, the first was while the tide was well out.  The second visit was made on my way back home, with the incoming tide, fairly well up.

On the first stop, not too many gulls or waders were present and they were scattered over a large area of the mudflats.  The first ring to be spotted, was that of the Oystercatcher which has recently returned from Iceland - Green over White, Green Flag (missing) over Black.

Oystercatcher  -  GW-GfN  -  Whitehouse Lagoon  (27 Aug 2016)

The second ring spotted was a 'metal' on a Black-headed Gull.  This one was the same bird that I recorded on the 7th August 2016, again being the closest bird to me.  Managing to obtain photos of the ring, it was indeed   EX53262  from Lockerbie in Scotland.

Ring of   EX53262   -  Whitehouse Lagoon  (27 Aug 2016)

Calling in at Whitehouse Lagoon for a second time while on my way home, far more gulls and waders were now present, having been forced off Belfast Lough due to the incoming tide.

With lots of birds to scope, the first ring to be spotted was a 'Blue Darvic' on a Common Gull -   2AIN .  I had spotted this gull on one previous occasion, at the nearby Whiteabbey Shoreline on the 24th October 2015.  It was ringed by Shane Wolsey on the 23rd June 2012, at the Copeland Islands in County Down.

Common Gull  -    2AIN   -  Whitehouse Lagoon  (27 Aug 2016)

The next two 'colour-rings' to be spotted were on Black-headed Gulls.  Both being Orange in colour, I knew these were from Adam McClure's BHG Study.  Taking photos of these two gulls, one was so far away, I could not make out the code on the ring.

The other bird was   2APT , a gull I first sighted last Saturday on the nearby Whiteabbey Shoreline.  During the week, Adam emailed me the ringing details for this gull, as can be seen in the Ringing Details Received section above.

Black-headed Gull  -    2APT   -  Whitehouse Lagoon  (27 Aug 2016)

My next sighting was of another 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gull - White T56W.  This is one of several birds that I have been on the look-out for, having recorded them last autumn/winter at Whitehouse Lagoon.

My last sighting of T56W was on the 1st November 2015, having initially spotted it on the 10th October 2015.  As this gull was not recorded through the remainder of last winter, I'm wondering if it uses the Lagoon as a 'stopover' before moving on to it's wintering site.

I checked for updates on the 'Live' online Polish Ringing Database, but my sighting last November was the last time T56W was reported.  It was ringed on the 16th June 2012 at the Odra Reservoir, close to the border with Germany. 

Black-headed Gull  -  White T56W  -  Whitehouse Lagoon  (27 Aug 2016)

There are two more BHGs that I am hoping to re-sight this winter.    2ALP  is from Adam McClure's Study, a gull that I recorded twice last winter at the Lagoon.  Having being bred in Northern Ireland, it was spotted during the breeding season in Norway.

The second BHG was ringed as an adult in May 2015 in Norway.     JM75   was only recorded on a single occasion at the Lagoon last winter.  Having checked the 'Live' online Norwegian Ringing Database, it has not been reported since my sighting on the 11th October 2015.  This gull may just have been 'passing through' on it's way to it's wintering site.  Adam McClure, did however, spot a BHG with a 'Green-Darvic' on the nearby Dargan mudflats, later on last winter, but could not get the code on the ring.

Dargan Mudflats
I spent a long time here scoping the gulls and waders and the only ring to be spotted was a 'metal' on a young Cormorant.  It's a pity, this young bird was not 'colour-ringed' as well, as I would have been able to get close enough to obtain the code.

RSPB Window on Wildlife Reserve
Seated in 'Hide 2' for about an hour and a half, I once again scoped Common Terns for 'colour-rings'.  As on previous occasions, I spotted numerous 'metals', but had no chance of reading these from a distance.  A Roseate Tern also appeared and bore a 'metal-ring' on each leg.  If any of these birds had been 'colour-ringed', I would have got the codes.

'Metal-ringed'  Roseate Tern  -  RSPB WoW Reserve  (27 Aug 2016)

Perhaps as many as 150 to 200 Oystercatchers were roosting on the edge of the Lagoon here.  They were too well bunched up to view most legs.  I thought, surely there has to be at least one 'colour-ring' amongst them, but only a single 'metal' was spotted.


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

3 more 'Sannies'

My apologies for the late posting, but I've been pretty busy and have just not had time to catch up with everything.

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina (Sunday 21st August)       
This was my third 'winter visit' to Antrim Marina and it was very poor weather-wise.  Being quite dark due to heavy cloud cover, there was frequent showers of rain, with some of these being quite heavy.  No canoeists arrived today, so I stayed until 1pm.

Around 60 BHGs at first, increased in numbers over the course of the morning, peaking to around 150 birds by 12.00.  I had two surprises today.  The first, which was also my first sighting of the day, was the re-appearance of   2AAP .

  2AAP , which is regarded as a resident, had not been recorded since the 3rd of June, despite frequent 'Summer Visits' by Suzanne Belshaw and myself.  I had given this gull up as 'dead', but I'm glad to see that it is 'alive and kicking'.  What has this bird been doing or where has it been?, we'll never know.

My second surprise occurred at 9.32, when a gull arrived outside my car window and hovered.  I knew straight away that this was 'one leg'.  Each winter, I hand feed this gull from the car, having realised that it does not cope too well in the 'scrums', when people are feeding the ducks.  'One leg' enjoyed it's bread today, circling over the river each time it came for a bite.

'Old habits die hard' and this gull has not forgotten my presence here each winter.  It is great to see the return of 'one leg', at least I know this one without it being ringed.  I would however, love to see a 'colour-ring' on this gull.  Maybe, someone, somewhere, would spot it and then we'd know where it goes to during the summer months.

With the re-appearance of   2AAP  today, my winter total increases to 22 out of the 32 BHGs from Adam's Study which I expect to record over this winter.  There was still no sign of   2AAS , which should have returned by now.  This is the only gull that I'm waiting on at the minute.  Early October should see the return of the next three,   2ACX ,   2ADV  and   2AAR   2AAR  is known to breed in Poland, having been spotted at a breeding colony there in the past.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AAP   -  Antrim Marina  (21 Aug 2016)

Black-headed Gulls Recorded on Sunday 21st August 2016
 2AAP   T35J   2ABN   2ABL   2AAT   2AAN   2AAC   2ABS   2ACV 

Today's Absentees
 2AAA   2ABA   2ANS   2ALH 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
There were no Common Gulls to be seen today, or for matter, none have been spotted here since July.  During the summer months, there was always some of these gulls about, but it seems strange that they are totally absent now.  The new Herring Gull pair arrived around 09.50 and remained throughout the remainder of my visit.  A single adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, made a brief stop at 11.29.

Mallard numbers were quite good, with about 60 birds on my arrival, steadily increasing to about 100+ over the morning.  A good number of these were viewed for rings, though none were seen.  I'm keeping an eye out on the Mallards, as I'm hoping to record birds that are reared and released by the gun clubs in County Monaghan.  This summer's youngsters will have 'metal-rings' that start with   6MN  followed by four digits.  There was no sign of the lone duckling that grabbed my attention last Sunday.

Three Mute Swans, are likely to be the same birds as seen in the last couple of visits and all three had no rings.

A maximum of nine Jackdaws were counted, along with 1 Hooded Crow, 1 Magpie and 1 Grey Wagtail, these three being youngsters hatched during this summer.

Elim Church, Parkhall & Kentucky Fried Chicken
On completion of the visit to Antrim Marina, I drove to the KFC car park to check on the Black-headed Gulls there, stopping by the Elim Church at Parkhall, on the way.

I recently discovered that   2AAV , which winter's at the Marina and sometimes would not be seen there for weeks on end, can be found at Elim Church.  Since the breeding season finished,   2AAV  has not as yet ventured to the Marina and so far, is not on my winter list for the site.  Stopping by the Elim Church today, there was a larger number of BHGs present, numbering around 60 birds, which did include   2AAV .

At the KFC car park, I was on the look-out for two Black headed Gulls.    2ADD  from Adam's study, was not present and was last sighted here on the 2nd August.  I am fairly sure, he'd be in Carrickfergus now, although I did not see him there on yesterday's visit.

The Norwegian BHG   JK35   was also absent at KFC today.  Although this gull winter's here, last week, I found this gull on the roof of the nearby Elim Church, along with   2AAV .


      Ringing Details Receieved       
Finally, the ringing details have arrived from Iceland for my recent Godwit and Oystercatcher sightings.  An apology was made by Böddi for the delay, as he was on vacation.  I also received the ringing details for the Sandwich Tern at Portrush despite not completing the full ring number.

At present, I am waiting on details for these recent sightings:-

Five birds from Adam McClure's Northern Ireland BHG Study,   2AVA  (Dargan),    2ADR  (Kinnego Marina),   2ALK  (Glynn),   2APT  (Whiteabbey) and   2CBT  (Whiteabbey).  Also,   EY68264 , ringed by Adam (Kinnego).

Black-headed Gull -   ST255.167  (Coleraine from Finland).
Common Gull -   2VDR  (Carnlough from Scotland).

Sandwich Tern -    DK6678* 
I did not report this tern online, as I did not complete the whole ring number.  Having thought about it, I decided to email the BTO directly, as there might have been a chance of obtaining a ringing date and location, especially if a number of Sandwich Terns had been ringed as chicks.  I also attached a photo of the tern with, which showed the ring number 'stitched' together.

On Tuesday 16th August, Lee from the BTO, sent me an email to say that they could generate a ringing recovery for my tern.  It arrived on Thursday and turned out to be a brilliant record.

   DK6678* , was ringed as a chick on the 16th July 1993 at Ogilby Island, Strangford Lough, County Down, Northern Ireland.  This island is only 97 kms south east of Portrush, nothing special here, but what was special was it's age.  Now 23 years old, this tern is getting on in years and becomes the oldest bird that I have recorded since I began 'Ring Watching'.

Back on the 11th August, I was raging at a woman and her three kids.  Despite seeing that I was taking photos, they walk straight towards the gulls and two terns, scaring them off.  At the time, I was hoping to obtain the full ring numbers of both Sandwich Terns and a young Black-headed Gull.

Although I had a partial for the first tern, I had enough for a report to be made.  In the case of the second tern, all I knew about it's ring, was that it was placed 'Upside-Down' and the partial number on the BHG youngster, matched rings I had used on the 31st May at Inch Island in County Donegal.

Yesterday (22nd August), I went back to Portrush.  I spotted a single Sandwich Tern on a roof, along with quite a number of Black-headed Gulls and a few Common Gulls.  The Sandwich Tern had a 'metal-ring', as did a Black-headed Gull.  I could not get close enough to the BHG, but I'm wondering if this is the Scottish-rung bird that I recorded here last winter.

With a lot of effort and patience, I was able to obtain the number on the ring of the Sandwich Tern.  Could this possibly be the second tern that was present on the 11th August?  The 'Upside-Down' ring had the number -   DE03433 .  I have reported it to the BTO.  I'll add the photo and ringing details of this tern in my next post.  The ringing details should be back by then.

Having spent all summer, trying to record my first 'ring' on a Sandwich Tern,   DE03433  is now my fourth in two weeks.

Oystercatcher  -  Left-leg, Orange over Orange - Right-leg, White AA
I first spotted this Oystercatcher on the 10th August at Carnlough Bay and re-sighted it again there on the 18th August.  I have recently received a couple of emails from Böddi.

This Oystercatcher was caught and ringed on the nest on the 10th May 2016, as a breeding adult.  It is part of an ongoing project, to catch the birds while they are incubating eggs.  When placing the trap, the birds eggs are replaced with 'dummies'.  Once caught the birds are then processed and released, returning to their 'real' eggs.

It was ringed in the Kjalarnes area, just to the north of the Capital Reykjavik, in south-west Iceland.  The distance is roughly 1,354 kms / 841 miles in a south-east direction to Carnlough Bay.

Although many of these Oystercatchers have not been added to the database as yet, it is reckoned that 180 to 190 adults were caught and 'colour-ringed' during this summer.  An Oystercatcher, which has now returned for another winter at Whitehouse Lagoon, was caught last year, as part of this new project.

I've added an extract from one of the emails below.  My thanks to Böddi for the information.  Northern Ireland birdwatchers should keep an eye out, on the Oystercatchers this winter - there's rings to be found.
Thank you for this sighting and images. This is a bird ringed this summer in SW-Iceland. Adult, caught on a nest. I have not enter the summer-ringing data into the database yet. I´ll send you full history of this bird, probably in sept-oct.

I think we (mostly Veronica, see Cc) ringed about 180-190 adults birds this summer. Adults birds (and some chicks) are ringed with two letters on a white ring, second letter is always A. We have also ringed chicks with green ring (we ordered lime ring but got green ring) with two black letters. It will be difficult to read black letters on green ring but images will help. 

Sightings outside Iceland are very important for so thanks a lot. 

And apologies for late answer, we have been in vacation.


Oystercatcher  -  Left-leg, Orange over Orange - Right-leg, White AA
Carnlough Bay  -  (18 Aug 2016)

Black-tailed Godwit  -  Left-leg, Red over White 8  -  Right-leg, Red over Yellow
This Black-tailed Godwit was ringed as an adult male on the 7th July 2010 at the Dryafjordur fjord in north-west Iceland.  My sighting of this bird on the 24th July 2016, was it's first ever sighting in Northern Ireland.  The distance from Dryafjordur to the Dargan Bay mudflats in Belfast, is around 1,574 kms / 978 miles SE and came 6 years and 17 days, since the bird was ringed.

This was my first record of a 'colour-ringed' Black-tailed Godwit.  I have added it's list of re-sightings below.

R8-RY 09.07.11 Lambadalur, Dýrafjörður, NW Iceland
R8-RY 26.02.13 Leighton Moss, Lancashire, NW England
R8-RY 13.04.13 RSPB Leighton Moss, Lancashire, NW England
R8-RY 22.04.13 RSPB Leighton Moss, Lancashire, NW England
R8-RY 23.04.13 RSPB Leighton Moss, Lancashire, NW England
R8-RY 03.07.13 Núpur, Dýrafjörður, NW Iceland
R8-RY 04.07.13 Núpur, Dýrafjörður, NW Iceland
R8-RY 24.07.16 Dargan Mudflats, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Black-tailed Godwit  -  Dargan Mudflats, Belfast  (24 Jul 2016)

Black-tailed Godwit  -  Left-leg, Green over Green - Right-leg, Orange over Red Flag
A week after recording my first ever 'colour-ringed' Black tailed Godwit, I spotted this one, also on the Dargan Mudflats in Belfast.  This Godwit is no stranger to Northern Ireland.  Having been ringed as a chick on the 16th July 2007, just west of Langhus, in north Iceland, it has been sighted here many times.  The distance from Langhus to Dargan is roughly 1,462 kms / 098 miles SE and my latest sighting came 9 years and 15 days since being ringed.

Listed below, are all of this Godwit's sightings and my thanks go to Böddi again for supplying all the info.

GG-ORflag 08.09.07 Belfast harbour, Belfast, N Ireland
GG-ORflag 12.10.07 Wader Lake, Castel Espie, Norhtern Ireland
GG-ORflag 12.10.07 Strangford Lough, Co. Down, N Ireland
GG-Orflag 12.10.07 Wader Lake, Castel Espie, Norhtern Ireland
GG-ORflag 17.05.08 Belfast harbour, Belfast, N Ireland
GG-ORflag 16.04.09 Belfast harbour, Belfast, N Ireland
GG-ORflag 15.04.10 Vogalækur, Mýrar, W Iceland
GG-ORflag 16.04.10 Vogalækur, Mýrar, W Iceland
GG-ORflag 19.04.10 Vogalækur, Mýrar, W Iceland
GG-ORflag 21.04.10 Vogalækur, Mýrar, W Iceland
GG-ORflag 23.04.10 Vogalækur, Mýrar, W Iceland
GG-ORflag 26.04.10 Vogalækur, Mýrar, W Iceland
GG-ORflag 14.02.12 RSPB Belfast Harbour Lagoon Reserver, Belfast, N Ireland
GG-ORflag 25.02.12 RSPB harbour lagoon reserve in Belfast, N Ireland
GG-ORflag 14.04.12 RSPB Belfast Harbour Lagoon Reserver, Belfast, N Ireland
GG-ORflag 06.03.13 RSPB Belfast Harbour Reserve, Antrim, N Ireland
GG-ORflag 17.04.13 RSPB Reserve at Belfast harbour, Belfast, N Ireland
GG-ORflag 18.04.13 RSPB Reserve at Belfast harbour, Belfast, N Ireland
GG-ORflag 17.04.14 Stekkakelda, Höfn, A-Skaftafellssýsla, E Iceland
GG-ORflag 21.03.15 Belfast harbour, Belfast, N Ireland
GG-ORflag 25.02.16 Belfast Harbour, Belfast, Northern Ireland
GG-ORflag 6.03.16 Dargan Bay, Belfast, Northern Ireland
GG-ORflag 31.07.16 Dargan Mudflats, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Black-tailed Godwit  -  Dargan Mudflats, Belfast  (31 Jul 2016)


      Saturday 20th August 2016       
Today, I visited Sandy Bay in Larne, Glynn on Larne Lough, Whitehead, Carrickfergus, the Whiteabbey Shoreline and Whitehouse Lagoon.  I spotted 'colour-rings' at all six sites, with seven being recorded altogether.

Sandy Bay, Larne
At Sandy Bay, I was especially on the lookout for a 'metal-ringed' Oystercatcher, that was present here last winter and one Black-headed Gull from Adam's project.

My first 'colour-ring' was indeed from Adam's study, but turned out to be   2ALK  , a new sighting for me  I took a few photos of this gull, which was well inside the compound of the Shipping Pilots Office.  There is no access to the compound, so I had to take the pictures from outside the fence, but just about got the code on the ring.

The second 'colour-ring', was of the gull that I was looking for -   2ABH , at least it's still here.  Ringed as an adult male on the 21st January 2013 at Sandy Bay, all previous sightings have been in the period of August to early April.

No Oystercatchers were to be seen, but I did check on a number of Turnstones, Ringed Plovers and a few Dunlins for rings, though had no luck.  Last winter, I had a foreign 'metal-ringed' Turnstone at this site, but was not able to read the number on it.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ABH   -  Sandy Bay, Larne  (20 Aug 2016)

Plenty of gulls, terns and waders, were to be seen here, along with 6 Little Egrets and 10 Mute Swans.  I know from a previous visit, that one of the Mute Swans has a 'metal-ring', but despite seeing a couple of these birds out of the water, the one I'm after is still eluding me.

As the tide was on it's way out, plenty of birds were arriving to bath on the outlet of the Glynn River or feed on the mudflats.  Good numbers of Oystercatchers, Curlew, Redshank and two Greenshank were scoped.  One 'metal-ring' was spotted on the left leg of an Oystercatcher.

Good numbers of Black-headed Gulls, along with an above average number of Common Gulls, a handful of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls, were also scoped.  Two Common Gulls were 'metal-ringed', one on the right leg and the other on the left.

I spotted another 'Orange-Darvic' from Adam's Black-headed Gull Study, but this one turned out to be a gull which I spotted earlier at Sandy Bay -   2ALK .  The distance between the two sites is about 3kms or a mile and a half.  I was able to get a better photos of   2ALK  this time.

The Sandwich Terns arrived in very good numbers, with around 60 to 70 birds present, along with three of this summer's youngsters.  I spent a good while scoping these birds for 'colour-rings', but only spotted two 'metals' on adult birds.  There is no hope of reading 'metals' at Glynn, so I always hope to see 'Darvics' here.  Three Common Terns put in an appearance, none of which were ringed.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ALK   -  Glynn, Larne Lough  (20 Aug 2016)

Arriving at Whitehead, around 30 Black-headed Gulls and 4 Common Gulls, were feeding on the shoreline.  One of the Common Gulls had a 'metal-ring', but I would not have got near enough to try and read it.

On rocks just off the shoreline, were a few Herring Gulls, along with a small number of this summer's youngsters.  A party of Sandwich Terns, were also on these rocks and two rings could be seen - a 'metal' and a 'colour-ring'.  With the camera, I zoomed across from the small pier onto the rocks and was able to get the code on a 'White Darvic' - NZR.  I had no hope of getting the 'metal' from where I was.

Checking the cr-birding site after returning home, I discovered that this Sandwich Tern was ringed in Holland.  I have sent an email to Ruben Fijn (cr-birding) and now await the tern's details.  

Sandwich Tern  -  White NZR  -  (20 Aug 2016)

Arriving at Carrickfergus Harbour, I was once again on the lookout for   2ADD .  This gull breeds on Lough Neagh during the summer and frequently visits Antrim Marina.  After the breeding season finished, I located him at the Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet at Antrim Town.

  2ADD  is known to winter at Carrickfergus and prior to this summer's breeding season, I located him at the KFC car park, where he remained for several weeks, before completing his journey to Antrim Marina.  With his presence at KFC, he was making the same journey in reverse.  My last sighting of him in Antrim was on the 2nd August and I'm certain he is now in the Carrick area, though I did not see him today.

I did spot another BHG from Adam's Study -   2AFB .  This gull was ringed at Carrickfergus on the 30th December 2013.  It has been spotted on a few occasions wintering at Carrick, but may possibly be breeding somewhere in Scotland, having been sighted there in March 2015.  In July 2015, it was back in Carrick, having been recorded by Adam and I spotted the gull twice - 24th October and 12th December 2015.  I'm still waiting on an updated file from Adam to see whether the gull has been recorded since last year.

PS.  I received an email from Suzanne Belshaw on Monday 22nd August.  Suzanne was at Carrickfergus Harbour during the evening of Sunday (21st) and she spotted   2ADD   and   2ADB .  At last, we now know that   2ADD   is back in Carrick.  My thanks to Suzanne for her latest sightings.  

Black-headed Gull  -    2AFB   -  Carrickfergus Harbour  (20 Aug 2016)

Whiteabbey Shoreline
Plenty of gulls of various species and ages, along with a few Oystercatchers, Redshanks and Turnstones were scoped for rings. Two more 'colour-ringed' BHGs were spotted, both of these belonging to Adam's Study and both were first sightings for me.  I have sent an email to Adam, informing him of   2APT  and   2CBT , but I've not received a reply as yet.

Indeed, I have had not heard from Adam during the last couple of weeks now.  I'm wondering if he is on holiday?  The sighting of new birds and re-sightings of others are gradually mounting and he'll be kept busy updating and replying to everything.

  2CBT  is a youngster of the year.  Adam 'colour-ringed' chicks this summer at three sites, Inch Island in County Donegal, Castle Espie in County Down and Larne Lough in County Antrim.  Larne Lough is the closest to Whiteabbey.

Black-headed Gull  -    2APT   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline  (20 Aug 2016)

Black-headed Gull  -    2CBT   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline  (20 Aug 2016)

Whitehouse Lagoon
I've paid a couple of visits to Whitehouse Lagoon during the last few weeks, especially on the look-out for a Black-headed Gull (White T56W) from Poland and an Oystercatcher from Iceland that has a combination of 'colour-rings', both having been sighted here last winter.

I'm pleased to report, the first of these two birds has now returned - Oystercatcher - left-leg, Green over White, Right-leg, Green Flag over Niger (Black).  Sighting this bird today, I recognised the 'colour-combination', but the 'Green Flag' was missing, having obviously fallen off.

It was ringed on the 5th June 2015, as a breeding adult and I was the first to spot this bird on the 6th September 2015 at Whitehouse Lagoon.  It was recorded a further 6 times over the winter by Adam McClure, Suzanne Belshaw and myself.

My re-sighting of it on the 20th February 2016, was it's last in Northern Ireland, subsequently being recorded back on the south coast of Iceland on the 31st March 2016.  No further sightings have been made until now.  My thanks to  Böddi, for the latest updated file.

Oystercatcher  -  Green over White / Green Flag over Niger (Black)
Whitehouse Lagoon  (20 Aug 2016)


Monday, 15 August 2016

1st 'Sannie' Tern

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina       
Last Sunday, I began my fourth winter of weekly Sunday visits at Antrim Marina to record the Black-headed Gulls from Adam McClure's Study and any other ringed birds that turn up.  These birds will either reside here throughout the winter or in some cases, be just passing through, using the Marina as a 'pit stop'.

I recorded 15 of Adam's gulls last Sunday, these being the start of a new 'winter list' of sightings.  On Saturday 13th August, I received an email from Neville McKee.  He made a one hour visit to the Marina on Friday 12th and recorded 8 of the study birds.  Five of these, were not recorded by me last Sunday and the winter list now stood at twenty gulls.

The new additions were   2AAB ,   2AAF ,   2AAN ,    2ABK  and   2ALH .  My thanks to Neville for sending the list of his sightings.

BHGs Recorded by Neville McKee on Friday 12th August 2016
 2AAB   2AAD   2AAF   2AAK   2AAN   2AAT   2ABK   2ALH 

On Sunday 14th August, I made my second visit of the winter.  Conditions were very mild, being fairly warm, cloudy, with a light wind blowing from the west.  Not many BHGs were present when I arrived and a quick head count totalled 51 birds.  Numbers, slowly increased to around 120 gulls, before the trainee canoeists started to appear at 10.45.

Once they were on the scene, very few gulls remained and I decided to finish the visit an hour early, departing at 12.00.  I recorded just 13 gulls, with   2ABS  being the only addition to the winter list, which now stands at 21.

One gull that should have arrived back by now is   2AAS , as early August is the usual time for this gull's return.  Hopefully,   2AAS  will be back by next Sunday.  

My Sightings At Antrim Marina on Sunday 14th Agust 2016
 2ANS   2ACV   2AAC   2AAA   2ABF   2ALH   2AAN 

BHGs Absent During My Visit on Sunday 14th August
 T35J   2AAT   2ABN   2ADJ   2ABA   2AAB   2AAF   2BRA 

Other Birds at The Marina
Only 47 Mallards were counted on my arrival, with the total steadily increasing to just over 100 ducks by the time I departed at 12.00.  No rings were seen on any of the ducks which exited the water.  Around 9.42, a very young Mallard chick appeared and was on it's own.  I watched the 'wee fella' for quite a while, often being rebuked as it tried to approach the adult ducks.

Every so often, it would swim upriver, returning after a short period of time.  I fed this little 'chap' some bread and it had no fear of people being close by.  Even, after the canoeists were on the river, it was not even frightened of the crafts, nearly being clobbered on numerous occasions by the paddles.  I hope this little duckling can survive on it's own and it will be interesting to see if it still at the Marina next Sunday.

On It's Own  -  Mallard Chick  -  Antrim Marina  (14 Aug 2016)

Three Mute Swans were present on the river throughout my visit, probably being the same three as seen last Sunday.  They did eventually exit the river, but none were ringed.

No Common Gulls appeared during my visit, while the newly 'paired-up' Herring Gulls arrived at 10.00am and remained throughout the remainder of my visit.

The only other birds recorded, were numerous Jackdaws, a pair of Pied Wagtails, a single Magpie and a single Hooded Crow.

Elim Church, Parkhall, Antrim Town
Having Completed my visit to Antrim Marina, I drove up to the KFC outlet, to look for BHGs   2ADD  and the Norwegian   JK35 , this one having arrived back for another winter.  On my way, I stopped by the Elim Church to check if   2AAV  was present, having recently discovered, this gull 'hangs out' here, when not at the Marina.

Not only was   2AAV  to be found on the roof of the church, but   JK35   was there too.  The Elim church is only a couple of hundred metres away from KFC.    2ADD  was not seen at the KFC car park and I'd be fairly certain, he has now travelled on to the town of Carrickfergus where he spends the winter. 

Black-headed Gulls  -    2AAV   &    JK35   -  Elim Church, Antrim Town  (14 Aug 2016)


      Ringing Details Received       

Black-headed Gull  -    EX53262 
During the week, I received the ringing details for the Black-headed Gull, which I recorded at Whitehouse Lagoon last Sunday (7th August).    EX53262  was ringed as a chick on the 29th May 2012, at Applegarthtown, Dumfries & Galloway, in Scotland, by members of the North Solway Ringing Group.

The distance to Whitehouse Lagoon is 168 kms / 104 miles WSW and 4 years, 2 months and 9 days have elapsed since being ringed.  As with most 'metals', this will probably be another first-sighting.

Applegarthtown, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland to Whitehouse Lagoon, Northern Ireland

Common Tern  -    PFV 
At long last, the ringing details of Common Tern   PFV , have been emailed to me.  Niall Tierney (Dublin Bay Birds), gave his apologies, as he had been away and is only now catching up on his mail.

  PFV  was caught and ringed as an adult on 26th August 2015 at Sandymount Strand, Dublin, R. of Ireland and my sighting was a first for this bird.  A new project began in the autumn of 2015, which aims to capture terns that congregate at Sandymount Strand, during their migration south (Read About The Project Here), my tern being one of these to be caught.

I'm now hoping, that some of the 'metal-ringed' Terns which I have been sighting at Glynn and especially on the RSPB's reserve on the Belfast Harbour Estate, will be caught and 'colour-ringed', as part of this new project.  I've been sighting far too many 'metals', without hope of ever reading these.

The distance from Sandymount Strand to Larne Lough, where   PFV  probably bred either on Swan Island or Blue Circle Island, is 168 kms / 104 miles in a north-easterly direction.  If all goes well, I shall be looking out for this tern again next summer.


      Wednesday 10th August 2016       
On Saturday 6th August, I drove down to Glenarm Harbour, as I knew that Black-headed Gull   260D  was due to return for another winter.  I have recorded this gull over the last two winters, but on this occasion, it was not seen.  Checking nearby Carnlough Bay, no rings were to be spotted at all.

On today's visit, I re-sighted   260D  preening at the edge of the Glenarm River, which flows past the outer wall of the harbour and into the sea.  My last sighting of this gull was on the 23rd February 2016 at Glenarm Harbour.  On the 25th February 2016, I received an email from the Northern Ireland Birdwatchers Association, to say   260D  had been sighted at Whitehead, around 29 kms / 18 miles to the south.  Clearly, this gull was on it's way to it's breeding site.

My latest sighting, comes 8 years, 1 month and 22 days, since   260D  was ringed as a chick on the 15th June 2008, at Lough Mask, County Mayo, Republic of Ireland.  The distance from Lough Mask to Glenarm is 264 kms / 164 miles in a north-east direction.  I have reported my latest sighting to the ringer Eoin McGreal, but am still waiting on a reply.  I am assuming, that the breeding site of this gull is still unknown.

Black-headed Gull  -    260D   -  Glenarm Harbour  (10 Aug 2016)

After scoping all the other gulls and the few waders around Glenarm Harbour and on the beach, I drove to the children's play park overlooking Carnlough Beach.  There were lots of gulls, waders and a few terns, at the outlet of the Glencloy River, but I scoped the birds along the beach first.  Towards the end of the beach, a group of Oystercatchers were resting, and I spotted one with 'colour-rings'.

Walking towards them, trying to get closer to take photos, they 'spooked' easily and flew off, landing on the rocky shore towards the Glenarm direction.  Jumping into the car, I drove around and then walked slowly towards them again.  Now in camera range, I started taking photos, then a coach driver, driving past me on the road, blasted his horn.  He may have thought he was being funny, but once again, the Oystercatchers took flight and flew back towards Carnlough Beach.

Checking on the photos already taken, I had 'White AA' on the birds right leg, which obscured the 'Orange-ring' on the left leg.  Back to the play area, I once again walked slowly towards the group of birds.  This time, I kept more of a distance and started to take pictures.  I discovered, that the Orange 'colour-ring' was blank, but I at least had the combination of 'colours'.

Checking the online cr-birding site (Details Here), I discovered that the 'Orange-ring', is actually two rings of the same colour, though this is not obvious, looking at the photos.  The Oystercatcher is from Iceland and Tomas Gunnarsson is the contact ringer, the same as my two recent Black-tailed Godwit sightings at Dargan, in Belfast.  As I am still waiting on a reply from Tomas, I decided to send an email to Iceland Waders and perhaps they can send me the ringing details. 

Oystercatcher  -  White AA / Orange over Orange  -  Carnlough Bay  (10 Aug 2016)

Oystercatcher  -  White AA / Orange over Orange  -  Carnlough Bay  (10 Aug 2016)

Having secured the ring combination for the Oystercatcher, my attention went back to the birds on the shoreline at the exit of the Glencloy River.  The Sandwich Terns were the priority, as these birds never hang around for long.  Eight adults and one youngster were counted.  One bird had a 'metal-ring', but I had no chance of getting close enough to obtain the details.

However, a second tern had a 'Blue colour-ring' - this one I had to get, as this would be a 'first'.  During autumn last year, I did spot a couple of 'Darvic-rung' Sandwich Terns, but could not get close enough to read the codes.  Walking very slowly, I got to camera range and successfully obtained the code   UDL , my first confirmed Sandwich Tern and not for the lack of trying (especially at Glynn during this summer).

On checking the online cr-birding site, when I returned home, I was dismayed to find that two projects were listed as 'Blue' with the starting letter as 'U' and followed by another two letters.  I decided to send a joint email to Ewan Weston of the Grampian Ringing Group in Scotland and Chris Redfern of the Natural History Society of Northumbria & The National Trust.

With Scotland being closer, I thought my tern would have originated from there, but Chris Redfern was the first to reply, to say that this was one of their birds.  Later on Wednesday evening, Chris emailed the tern's details.

  UDL  was ringed as a chick on the 28th June 2014 on Inner Farne Island, Northumberland, England.  The Farne Islands lie just of the east coast of England in the North Sea.  This tern's only previous sighting was on the 10th August 2014, when it was spotted at Port Seton on the Firth of Fourth in Scotland.  It is pointless to give a distance for this bird, as they would rarely travel overland.

My thanks to Chris for supplying the information.

Sandwich Tern  -    UDL   -  Carnlough Bay  (10 Aug 2016)

Sandwich Tern  -    UDL   -  Carnlough Bay  (10 Aug 2016)

While scoping the Sandwich Terns, I spotted a Common Gull with an 'Orange-Darvic'.  Having sighted a 'colour-ring' on the Sandwich Tern, I paid attention to that bird first.  Once sorted, I then looked for my Common Gull again, to find it was now up to it's thighs in the sea.

Scoping through the rest of the gulls and waders, I re-sighted Common Gull -   2HTX .  This bird, which was ringed as a chick in June 2011, on the Copeland Islands in County Down, has spent the whole summer in the Carnlough Bay area.

Common Gull  -    2HTX   -  Carnlough Bay  (10 Aug 2016)

I had to play a waiting game for my newly sighted Common Gull, to show off it's 'legs'.  I knew the tide was on it's way in, so it was just a matter of time, as to when the gull would move.  Eventually, it walked up onto the beach revealing the code -   2VDR , a new sighting for me.

The only previous two 'Orange coloured-rings' that I've spotted before on Common Gulls, was   2A06  at Carrickfergus last December and on a juvenile at Whitehouse Lagoon last October (unread).  I notice from the photo, that there is a small brown tinge on the wing of   2VDR , which suggests it hatched in the summer of 2015.

After checking the online cr-birding site, I emailed Calum Campbell from Aberdeen in Scotland and now await the gull's ringing details. 

Common Gull  -    2VDR   -  Carnlough Bay  (10 Aug 2016)


      Thursday 11th August 2016       
I booked the day off work, as I was going to go on a boat trip from Cushendall to Ailsa Craig in Scotland, to view the seabird colonies there, especially the Gannets.  The trip was cancelled, due to expected bad weather, but here in Northern Ireland, the weather was quite mild.

Instead, I decided to visit Ballycastle, Portrush and Coleraine.

Here, I was especially on the look-out for the Icelandic 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gull   585774 , which I recorded here on three occasions last winter.  Despite the large number of BHGs around the harbour area (easily the most I've ever seen here), my target was not present.

There were also lots of Herring Gulls of various ages about, along with a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, but not one was ringed.  Over 100 Kittiwakes were perched on the large boulders, which act as a breakwater to the harbour.  Scoping these for quite a while, no rings were spotted.  I did notice a lack of Common Gulls, which would normally be present in fairly good numbers.  

Stopping at the very large car park at the East Strand, a large group of Black-headed Gulls were roosting in a clear area, along with two Sandwich Terns and a single Common Gull.

Almost straight away, I spotted a juvenile BHG with a 'metal-ring' on it's left leg.  My immediate thought was - this bird was mine.  I have a habit of ringing chicks while facing towards me, thus the ring is fitted on their left legs, as I'm right-handed.  Having taken a couple of photos, I then noticed the pair of Sandwich Terns, which both bore 'metal-rings'.

These two now became a priority, as, if they were to fly off, I'd probably never see them again.  I set about taking photos of the terns, especially the one closest to me.

Then the inevitable happened, people came walking towards the group and everything flew off.  The mentality of some people is 'mind boggling'.  They could see I was taking photos of the birds, yet they still walk straight towards them, instead of going around.

On checking the photos, the tern furthest from me had an 'upside-down' 'metal-ring', but no details could be read.  I had more luck with the closest bird, missing out on the last digit, which looks to be a '3', otherwise I had -   DK6678*.

I did not report this tern online, as I had not obtained the full ring number.  Having thought about it, this tern may have been ringed as a chick.  If this was the case, it is possible that other chicks were ringed on the same date and at the same location, therefore confirmation could be made.  The final number would have to be in the range of 0 to 9.  I have sent an email to the British Trust for Ornithology, with a photo attached, to see what they make of it. 

Pair of 'Metal-ringed' Sandwich Terns  -  East Strand Car Park, Portrush  (11 Aug 2016)

Sandwich Tern  -    DK6678*   -  East Strand Car Park, Portrush  (11 Aug 2016)

I then checked the photos of the young Black-headed Gull.  Only a partial number could be seen on the photos -   EZ610** .  This was all I needed to know, as this gull was ringed by me on the 31st May, as part of my training, during our first visit to Inch Island in Donegal.

Having finished off a couple of 'ring strings' belonging to Ken Perry, I went on to ring 22 young BHGs with rings that I'm holding in the series   EZ61001  to   EZ61100 .  The numbers used that day were   EZ61009  to   30  and my bird is one of these.  As far as I know, this is the first BHG, to have been recorded since the three ringing expeditions at Inch Island.

This young gull has travelled 59 kms / 34 miles in a north-east direction to get to Portrush.  Hopefully, it will remain here and I can finish off the number at a later date.

I was on the lookout for Black-headed Gull   EW83177 , which I recorded here on three occasions last winter, but it was not present.

Juvenile Black-headed Gull  -    EZ610**   -  East Strand Car Park, Portrush  (11 Aug 2016)

My aim in Coleraine, was to see if either of the 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls that I spotted here last winter, had returned.  These were   2E64   from Scotland and 'White J9J2' from Norway, but neither of them were to be seen.

I did spot a 'metal-ringed' BHG on a jetty, just opposite Coleraine Harbour.  I could tell from the height of the ring, that this was a foreign gull.  Parking my car in a large clear area, I set about luring the gulls to me with some bread.  This worked a treat, as my target arrived with other gulls.

After taking lots of photos, I successfully pieced together the ring number - Finland   ST255.167 .  This is the same gull, which local Coleraine birdwatcher, John Clarke, spotted last winter.  He was not able to obtain the full number on the ring, having just got   ST***167  on his photos.  I have reported this BHG online to the BTO and hopefully, it's ringing details will arrive during the week.

Black-headed Gull  -  Finland    ST255.167   -  Coleraine Harbour  (11 Aug 2016)


      Saturday 13th August 2016       
Today, I decided to 'Ring Watch' at several sites, being Whitehouse Lagoon, Dargan Mudflats, the former Belfast Waterworks, Portaferry, Portavogie, Ballywalter and Millisle.  During the afternoon, plenty of gulls and waders were looked at, but the only two sites which produced a ring/rings, was at Dargan and Millisle.

Dargan Mudflats
With the tide on it's way out, hundreds of gulls and waders, were spread out across the mudflats here.  Spending around two hours scoping through these birds, the only ring spotted was an 'Orange Darvic' on a BHG, albeit in the distance.  Waiting patiently, probably the same Black-headed Gull, eventually appeared within camera range.

Having took a few photos, the 'colour-ring' -   2AVA , was a new sighting for me.  This is another one of Adam McClure's Study birds.  Although, I have emailed Adam, I have received no reply as yet.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AVA   -  Dargan Mudflats  (13 Aug 2016)

As per usual at this site, several 'metal' and 'colour' ringed Common Gulls were present.  By the time I arrived here the tide was quite well up again, making easy viewing of the gulls.  I noticed that Black-headed Gulls were present in larger numbers, than normal, but none were ringed.

The 'stand out' sighting here, was of a 'foot-less' Common Gull, which I first spotted on the 2nd July 2016.  Having realised that the gull was bearing a 'metal-ring' and had no feet, it flew off before I could obtain any photos.

My first sighting of it today, was of it standing on the beach, between two other Common Gulls.  I quickly took a couple of photos, thinking it would not come anywhere near me.  The lure of bread did entice it, along with a handful of other gulls.  I managed another couple of photos, before it took off again.  The gull does not appear to be too fond of standing on the concrete on it's 'Stumps', the name I've given to this bird.

Checking the photos for details on the ring, I only captured a partial number ' 820 '.  On checking the position of the numbers underneath the address on the ring, I was able to determine that I had the second to fourth numbers of the code.  As the two letters before the five numbers would begin with an '  E ', the partial code would read -   E**820* .

This code is likely to be the same as the Common Gull -   EX38230 , which I also recorded here today, the numbers '  82 ' being the common factor of both rings.  This being the case, then 'Stumps' would have been ringed as a chick on the nearby Copeland Islands in 2010.  Having had the misfortune of loosing both feet, 'Stumps' has no trouble with standing.

With three'colour-ringed' Common Gulls present, their numbers were quickly obtained, being a second sighting for me of   2ANJ   and re-sightings of   2ADX   and   2BBC .

Common Gull 'Stumps'  -    E**820*   -  Millisle  (13 Aug 2016)

With three 'colour-ringed' Common Gulls present, their numbers were quickly obtained, being a second sighting of   2ANJ   and re-sightings of   2ADX  and   2BBC .

Common Gulls  -    2ANJ   2ADX   &    2BBC   -  Millisle  (13 Aug 2016)

Out of a few 'metal-ringed' Common Gulls present, I picked out two birds to try and obtain their numbers.  One of the two, has a bad leg or ankle.  I know of two such gulls here at Millisle, having obtained the number on one of these, I have been trying to get the number for the other.  It turned out, the bird present today was   EX38230 , which I've now re-sighted on several occasions.

The other Common Gull was   EW31160 , a second re-sighting, having first recorded it's number on the 2nd July 2016.  Here at Millisle, I still have a couple of partials to complete and there is a good possibility that other 'metal-ringed' Common Gulls, have yet to be recorded.

Common Gulls  -    EX38230   &    EW31160   -  Millisle  (13 Aug 2016)


      Sunday 14th August 2016       
Upon completing my visits to Antrim Marina, Parkhall and KFC in Antrim, I drove down to Kinnego Marina, at the bottom end of Lough Neagh.  With several 'metal' and 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls to look out for, the first to grab my attention, was a 'one-legged' BHG with a 'metal-ring'.

My sister, Heather and I, spotted this gull, just the once last winter, but were unable to get any of the numbers.  I knew that Adam had ringed a 'one-legged' Black-headed Gull here, on the 29th October 2014 (Read Here).  I informed Adam of the sighting, but asked him to with-hold the ring number, as I wanted to try and get it on another occasion.

Once again, with the lure of some bread, I managed to obtain the ring number -   EY68264 , which matches the rings used by Adam.  I've reported the gull to Adam, so that he can confirm the number.

On Wednesday 10th August, Suzanne Belshaw paid a visit to Kinnego Marina.  During her visit, she spotted a BHG with a BTO ring, standing on one leg.  Taking photos, she only managed to obtain '  64 ' on the ring, but did not realise that this gull only had the one leg.  During Suzanne's visit, she also recorded   2BPN  and   2BPV , both regulars at Kinnego.

On my visit today, I also recorded   2BPN , as well as regulars -   2BPT  and   2BPS .  I also spotted another one of Adam's Study birds, which I had never seen before -   2ADR .  I am now waiting on the details of this BHG from Adam. 

Black-headed Gull  -    EY68264   -  Kinnego Marina  (14 Aug 2016)

Black-headed Gull  -    2ADR   -  Kinnego Marina  (14 Aug 2016)