Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Rings Aplenty...

Again, my apologies on the late posting.  With so many new rings recorded, re-sightings, photos to edit, maps to produce and referencing past data, it all takes time.  I have only just started my second winter of searching for 'Rings Elsewhere', but as can already be seen, I'm getting plenty of new rings, as well as re-sighting birds from last winter. 

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina       
Over the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of September, two visits have been made to Antrim Marina.  The first was by Neville McKee, who spent roughly an hour there, recording 11 of the Study gulls.  Neville also spotted   2AAV , making it's first known appearance to the Marina since I began my 4th Winter season on the first Sunday of August.

Having started with a clean slate,   2AAV  became the 23rd of a possible 32 gulls from Adam's Study, which I hope to record over the course of the winter. My thanks to Neville for his sightings.

My visit the following day, felt like a summer's day, being very mild and warm.  This may have well contributed to the lack of gulls present, as they were likely to find plenty of natural food elsewhere.  On top of that, when the trainee canoeists arrived around 11am, the gulls would not settle, though plenty flew in overhead.

During my visit, I recorded 5 gulls, that were not recorded the day before, which took the total to 16 out of the 23 birds recorded so far this winter.  One BHG which should have appeared by now is   2AAS .  This bird is now well overdue.

Black-headed Gulls Recorded by Neville McKee on Saturday 3rd September 2016
 2AAD   2AAH   2AAN   2AAP   2AAT   2AAV 
 2ABF   2ABK   2ADJ   2ALH   2BRA    

My BHG Sightings on Sunday 4th September 2016
 T35J   2AAT   2ALH   2ABS   2AAH   2ABK 
 2ABN   2AAN   2ACV   2BRA   2AAF    

Black-headed Gulls Not Recorded This Weekend
 2AAK   2AAA   2AAC   2ABA   2AAB   2ABL   2ANS 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
The highlight of my visit today at Antrim Marina, was the sighting of a single Common Gull, which was 'metal-ringed'.  As this was a small female, I suspected that it was   EY64036 .  On scoping the ring, I could read   *Y640** , so knew it was the same bird.  On trying to photograph the ring, I was only able to capture   ****036 .

Obviously, having recently returned,   EY64036  was nervous and flew off within minutes on each of two appearances.  This is now the fourth winter running, in which this gull has chosen to come to the Marina.

My first sighting of   EY64036  was on the 9th February 2014.  As I had not started my Blog at this point, further sightings were not recorded.  I began my Blog in August 2014 and recorded the return of the gull for a second winter, on September 21st 2014, where it remained until 15th March 2015.

It was late in returning last winter, not being sighted until the 22nd November 2015 and remained until the 6th March 2016.    EY64036 , was ringed as a chick on the 20th June 2013, at Hunterston, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Common Gull  -    EY64036   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (04 Sep 2016)

The familiar pair of Herring Gulls, failed to show up today, which is unusual for them.  Mallard numbers were excellent, with around 70 birds present when I arrived, increasing to the 110+ mark by the time of my departure at 12.00.

The now normal trio of un-ringed Mute Swans, were standing on the water's edge when I arrived.  At 09.48, a further two birds arrived in from the Lough and were easily tempted out of the water with some bread.  One of these was ringed -   Z91982 , last seen here on the 10th June 2016.

The overall total increased to 8, when another three un-ringed Mute Swans arrived from the Lough at 10.10.  Just before I departed, a pair of Mute's along with four large cygnets appeared at the entrance to the Marina, but would not come in, probably due to the presence of the canoeists.

Ring of Mute Swan  -    Z91982   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (04 Sep 2016)

The only other species of birds to be recorded during my visit, was a juvenile Magpie, a pair of Pied Wagtails and a 9 Jackdaws.

Elim Church, Parkhall & KFC
As   2AAV  was not at the Marina during my visit, I drove up to Parkhall, where I did spot it on the roof of the Elim Church.  About 50 BHGs were present there altogether.  Only 4 BHGs and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were at the KFC outlet and there was no sign of the Norwegian BHG   J35K


      Ringing Details Received       

Common Gull  -    2VDR 
I went through the British Trust for Ornithology to obtain the ringing details for this Common Gull, having failed to get a reply from the contact email address, as given on the cr-birding website.  I spotted this gull back on the 10th August 2016 at Carnlough Bay, on the east coast of County Antrim (Read Post Here).

As I suspected, by the slight tinge of brown in the plumage of   2VDR , it did hatch in the summer of 2015, having been ringed on the 28th June.  The ringing site was in the Tillypronie area, which lies 51 kms / 31 miles, to the west of the City of Aberdeen in Scotland.

The distance given from Tillypronie to Carnlough Bay, is 306 kms / 190 miles, in a south-west direction.  My sighting came 1 year, 1 month and 13 days, since being ringed.  The 'metal-ring' number is    EZ05559 .

Tillypronie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland to Carnlough Bay, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Black-headed Gull  -    EY98138 
I spotted this first-winter Black-headed Gull on the 25th December 2015, at Victoria Park in Belfast (Read Post Here).  Having recorded just a partial number -   E*98138 , I decided not to report this gull to the BTO, although fellow 'Ring Watcher', Graham Prole from Dublin, suggested I should.  Actually, I hate to 'pester' the BTO, due to the number of partials that I do record.

After my recent success with the BTO, in obtaining the ringing details of a Sandwich Tern, another partial   DK6678* , I decided to try my luck with the Black-headed Gull.  My reasoning was that it was highly unlikely for two BHG chicks to be ringed with the exact same five numbers during the summer of 2015, therefore the missing second letter could be found.

As this proved to be the case, the BTO was able to send me the ringing details for my gull and a nice one it was too.    EY98138 , was ringed as a chick on the 18th June 2015, at Saltholme, Stockton-on-Tees, on the east coast of England.  The distance to Victoria Park, Belfast was given as 300 kms / 186 miles west of Saltholme and my sighting came 6 months and 7 days, from the ringing date.

This is also becomes the third long distance BHG chick, which I recorded over the 2015/2016 winter.  The other two being from, Loch Boralie, Scotland to Kinnego Marina on Lough Neagh and Coquet Island, England to Antrim Marina, also on Lough Neagh.

Last winter, I recorded a juvenile Herring Gull at Portavogie Harbour in County Down.  I did not report the number -   GJ2588*  , to the BTO, as I only had a partial.  I will now try the them with this one, as several chicks could have been ringed on the same date and at the same location, therefore a ringing recovery may well be generated.

Saltholme, Stockton-on-Tees, England to Victoria Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland


      Saturday 3rd September 2016       
I decided on another visit to County Down, as I seem to record 'rings' on a regularly basis.  Millisle was my main target, as it seems to be a hotbed for finding ringed Common Gulls, both 'metals' and 'coloureds'.  I still have a couple of partials that I would like to complete and there is always every chance of recording new rings.  On the way to County Down, I called by Whitehouse Lagoon.

Whitehouse Lagoon
Although the tide was still quite high, with little of the mudflats exposed, I did re-sight the Polish BHG - White T56W and the colour-ringed Oystercatcher from Iceland - GW-GfN (Green over White - Green flag over Niger (Black)).

Kiltonga Nature Reserve, Newtownards
This is a site that I overlook, having made only a single visit in the past.  On that occasion, I recorded two of Adam McClure's Black-headed Gulls.  Only one 'metal-ring' was spotted on today's visit and I successfully obtained the number -   EL86728 , on a Black-headed Gull.  I have reported it to the BTO.  A great start to the day, getting a result at the first site visited.

I then drove through the car park of the KFC outlet in Newtownards.  There were a few BHGs and Herring Gulls here, but nothing was ringed. 

Black-headed Gull  -    EL86728   -  Kiltonga Nature Reserve, Newtownards, Co. Down  (03 Sep 2016)

With the tide still quite high up on the beach here, it was quite easy to view the mix of Herring, Common and Black-headed Gulls.  This was made more easier, as a tractor was raking the sand close to where I was parked and the gulls picked for food in it's wake.  The birds were not interested in bread today, with very few being enticed towards my direction.

I spotted 3 'metal-ringed' ringed Common Gulls, which included the bird with no feet 'Stumps', which I photographed on my last visit.  Three 'colour-ringed' Common Gulls were re-sighted -   2ANJ ,    2ACA   and   2BBC , all from Shane Wolsey's Study on the nearby Copeland Islands.

While here, I recorded two new 'colour-rings'.  The first on a Common Gull, was   2AAN , whose ring was in very poor condition.  I reported it to Shane by email.  My sighting of the gull was a first since it was ringed on the 1st June 2010, at Big Copeland Island.  Even 'colour-ringed' birds seem to pass by over the years without being spotted - another good result.  My thanks to Shane for the info.

Common Gull  -    2AAN   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (03 Sep 2016)

The second 'colour-ring' was on a Herring Gull -   1L:W .  Knowing this was belonged to a new study on the nearby Copeland Islands, I emailed Adam McClure about it, as he is the 'ring co-ordinator'.  Ringed as an adult on the 6th May 2015, my sighting is the second one for this gull, which was first spotted at Millisle on the 10th February 2016.  My thanks to Adam for the details.

Herring Gull  -    1L:W   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (03 Sep 2016)

Portavogie Harbour
Having stopped by Ballywalter, where no rings were spotted (very good numbers of gulls), I then went on to Portavogie.  There were far fewer gulls about here, as there would normally be.  However, it did not take long, to spot another 'colour-ring'.  The juvenile Great Black-backed Gull, was perched on a roof overlooking the Harbour.

As I was zooming in to take photos, it flew off into the harbour, disappearing from view amongst the fishing boats.  It did not take long to locate it again, picking through the nets on the quayside.  A couple of photos later, I had the code - (White) 9H3:C.  I recorded a similar ring here last winter on an adult GBB Gull and knew this bird was from Scotland.

Back at home, I emailed Iain Livingstone who secretary of the Clyde Ringing Group.  Iain replied to say he thinks this gull was ringed at Pladda Island, which lies just off the southern coast of the Isle of Arran in Ayrshire.  He is going to contact the ringer for the details and will then get back to me.

I've added a couple of photos of this young gull, as I think it looks quite smart.  Despite the lack of gulls here today, Portavogie Harbour is well worth keeping an eye on, as the small fleet of fishing boats seems to act as a magnet in luring larger gulls and the possibility of more ring sightings.

Great Black-backed Gull  -  (White)  9H3:C  -  Portavogie, Co. Down  (03 Sep 2016)

Great Black-backed Gull  -  (White)  9H3:C  -  Portavogie, Co. Down  (03 Sep 2016)

There never seems to be a lot of gulls at Portaferry, but last winter I did spot a couple of 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gulls.  On recent visits, none of these have been re-sighted, but I'm hoping to obtain results here at some time.  On today's visit, the few BHGs that were about, were all un-ringed.  Scoping the Marina, at the larger gulls and a few Cormorants, I spied a 'Darvic' on an adult Great Black-backed Gull.

As there is no public access to the Marina, I had to zoom in from a quite long distance, but was able to obtain the code -   1JN .  Having recorded a similar ring at Ballywalter, I knew this gull would have been ringed at Irelands Eye in Dublin.

I emailed fellow 'Ring Watcher' Graham Prole, who lives in Dublin and seems to know everything about rings in his part of the world.  True to form, Graham was able to supply details.

  1JN  was ringed as a chick on the 25th June 2011 at Irelands Eye. The only two previous sightings were made during it's first winter, being spotted in the Isle of Man, on 21st December 2011 and the 6th March 2012.  Once again, you'd wonder how such a large gull goes un-noticed over the years.

My thanks as always go to Graham.  Not only is he able to supply info, but he's always available to give his opinion on some of my sightings, if needed.
Great Black-backed Gull  -    1JN   -  Portaferry, Co. Down  (03 Sep 2016)

GBB Gull  -    1JN   -  Ringing Site (Blue)  -  Sightings (Red)


      Sunday 4th September 2016       
On the agenda today, was visits to Whitehouse Lagoon, Victoria Park in Belfast, Groomsport, Donaghadee, a second visit to Whitehouse Lagoon and to finish, the Whiteabbey Shoreline.

Whitehouse Lagoon  (First Visit)
With the tide still quite high in the Lagoon, very few gulls and waders were to be seen.  A quick scope through the birds revealed no rings.

Victoria Park, Belfast
Last winter, I recorded three 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gulls here - adults from Iceland and Downholme in England, as well as the juvenile mentioned in the 'Ringing Details Received' section above.  I also recorded two 'colour-ringed' BHGs, one from Adam's Northern Ireland Study and the other was from Holland.  This Dutch bird was my main target today.

A 'metal-ringed' BHG was first to be spotted on a small island in the lake, followed by two 'Orange-Darvic' rung BHGs from Adams Study.  I had no joy with 'metal', but the two 'colour-ringed' birds were the re-sighting of   2AJV  and a new bird to me -   2AKJ .

  2AJV  was ringed as a chick at Castle Espie in County Down on the 19th June 2014.  It's first re-sighting was on the 30th October 2014 at nearby Connswater.  It has not been recorded since I spotted it here at Victoria Park on the 14th November 2015, last winter.

  2AKJ  was ringed as a chick on the 23rd June 2015, also at Castle Espie in County Down.  Today's sighting is a first for this gull.  Castle Espie is situated 15 kms to the south-east of Victoria Park.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AJV   -  Victoria Park, Belfast  (04 Sep 2016)

Black-headed Gull  -    2AKJ   -  Victoria Park, Belfast  (04 Sep 2016)

A short time later my target appeared on the footbridge, which at present is closed off to the public.  'White EAK9' was recorded twice by me last winter.  My first sighting of it was on the 17th October 2015, here at Victoria Park and then on the 25th December 2015, at the nearby Connswater Shopping Centre.  It's first ever sighting in Northern Ireland was made on the 10th January 2014, when Adam McClure recorded it at Connswater Shopping Centre.

'White EAK9' was ringed as an adult male on the 13th June 2012 at Benthuizerplas in Holland by Benny Middendorp.  I have yet to contact Benny about my latest sighting.  When I do, it will be interesting to see if this gull has been re-sighted in Holland since last winter.

Black-headed Gull  -  (White)  EAK9  -  Victoria Park, Belfast  (04 Sep 2016)

My next destination was Groomsport, but while driving through Holywood, I noticed a large number of gulls on a rooftop.  I swung into a car park and then started scoping.  Bingo!, another 'Orange-Darvic'.  I only managed to get a couple of photos, then all the gulls took off, but at least I managed to read the code -   2APC  - a new sighting.

Another BHG from Adam's Study,   2APC  was ringed as a chick on the 19th June 2013 on Mew Island, part of the Copeland Islands, situated a short distance from Holywood.  It's first re-sighting was at Hazelbank Park, near Whitehouse Lagoon on the 22nd July 2014.  The next three sightings came from Strangford Lough, all in October 2015, which suggests this gull could possibly be wintering there.

In April 2016, it was then reported at the RSPB's Window on Wildlife Reserve in Belfast where it probably bred.  The Reserve is only 3kms away from where I sighted the gull today, it's sixth record altogether.  Although, it is only September, I wonder if this bird will go back to Strangford Lough for the coming winter, or will it remain at Holywood.  I'll look out for this one over the coming months.
Black-headed Gull  -    2APC   -  Holywood, Co. Down  (04 Sep 2016)

The only ring spotted here today was a 'metal' on a Common Gull.  Perched on the roof of the Harbour Master's Office, I took loads of photos from the front and back of the building.  While still on site, I checked through these, to find I had managed to obtain the whole number -   EJ72587 .  Straight away, I thought this was the same gull that eluded me back in the spring of 2016.

As the gull was timid and standing on grass, I was only able to get a partial number and felt it might be quite old.  I made a couple of repeat visits to Groomsport, but failed to locate the gull again.

On returning home, I checked through my records and this was indeed the same Common Gull, the partial number reading   EJ7**87 , spotted on the 5th March 2016.  I have reported it to the BTO and now await it's details - fingers crossed for age!
Common Gull  -    EJ72587   -  Groomsport, Co. Down  (04 Sep 2016)

Whitehouse Lagoon  (2nd Visit)
On returning to Whitehouse Lagoon, the tide was well on it's way out, exposing quite a section of the mudflats.  Numerous gulls and waders were now present.  Scoping through everything, two of Adam's 'colour-ringed' BHGs were spotted.  One of these was   2APT , which I first recorded recently on the Whiteabbey Shoreline and then again last weekend here at Whitehouse Lagoon.

The second gull was   2ANB , another new sighting.  Ringed as a chick at Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough on the 15th July 2015, this was the first record of the gull since being ringed.  Blue Circle Island lies 20 kms / 13 miles to the north-east of Whitehouse Lagoon.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ANB   -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast  (04 Sep 2016)

Whiteabbey Shoreline
I struck lucky at the shoreline at Whiteabbey, with three 'colour-rings' being spotted, two were re-sightings and the third was of a new ring.  There was no sign of the Portuguese-rung Lesser Black-backed Gull, that I re-sighted here last weekend.

Common Gull   2AIP   was ringed as a chick on Big Copeland Island in County Down on the 11th June 2012.  My two sightings of it here at Whiteabbey on the 10th and 24th October 2015, were it's first records since being ringed.  Although the ringer, Shane Wolsey, has acknowledged my latest sighting, I'm presuming that it has not been re-sighted since last year.  The Copeland Islands are situated 23 kms / 14 miles to the east of Whiteabbey.

Common Gull  -    2AIP   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline, Co. Antrim  (04 Sep 2016)

Next to be spotted was the Mediterranean Gull   PNU0 .  My only previous sighting of this bird, was on 19th December 2015, at the upper lake of the former Belfast Waterworks, situated 7kms / 4 miles away.  I checked the live online Polish Ringing Website and the gull has not been reported since my last sighting.

  PNU0  was ringed as a chick on the 27th May 2012, at Wòjcice in Poland.  Since being ringed, all four of it's re-sightings, have come from Northern Ireland.  Keith Stevens was the first to record this gull at Antrim Marina, County Antrim, on the 20th July 2013.  George Gordon and Stuart McKee, then spotted it at Ballywalter, County Down, later the same year, on the 8th November.

The distance from the ringing site in Poland to Whiteabbey is 1,622 kms / 1,008 miles in a north-west direction.  It is now 4 years, 3 months and 8 days, since   PNU0   was ringed.

Mediterranean Gull  -    PNU0   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline, Co. Antrim  (04 Sep 2016)

Mediterranean Gull  -    PNU0   -  Wòjcice, Poland to Whiteabbey, NI>

After all my efforts, looking for ringed Sandwich Terns during the summer, I have had better success since the breeding season ended.  Today, at Whiteabbey, I read my 5th Sandwich Tern ring, inside the last month.

  EVJ  was ringed as a chick on the 18th June 2014, at the Forvie National Nature Reserve, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.  My sighting today, is the third for this tern.  It's previous two sightings were made on the 17th & 18 August 2014, at Findhorn Bay, Moray, Scotland, as a fledged juvenile.

The distance from Forvie to Whiteabbey was given as 381 kms / 237 miles to the south-west.  My thanks go to Ewan Weston for supplying the history of this tern.

Sandwich Tern  -    EVJ   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline, Co. Antrim  (04 Sep 2016)

Sandwich Tern  -    EVJ   -  Ringing Site (Blue)  Sightings (Red)


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