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)


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