Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Latvian Return...

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina (Sunday 23rd October 2016)       
My latest weekly visit today, saw fairly mild weather conditions, but a brisk south-easterly wind was a wee bit on the chilly side.  With the return of both   2AAR  and   2ADV , recorded during last Sunday's visit, the overall total of 'Darvic-rung' Black-headed Gulls, increased to 26, so far this winter.

I recorded 19 of these today, but there was no sign of   2ACX , who was expected to return.  If it is not back by next week's visit, it will be running late.    2ACX  was caught and ringed by Adam at Antrim Marina on the 21st October 2013.  It's return dates for 2014 and 2015, were recorded on 2nd November and 11th October.  There was no sign of   2AFD  either, but I was not really expecting his return until next Sunday.

I found today's visit quite strange, as most of the 'colour-ringed' BHGs that I recorded, departed from the Marina, soon after getting their share of the bread being fed to the ducks.  I counted 49 BHGs on my arrival, with a peak number of 128 being recorded by 10.30.  Around 100 gulls were still present by the time I departed at 1pm, but only one of these were 'cr-ringed'.

I reckon there was a good turnover of gulls coming and going throughout the morning.  'One-leg', got her usual feed of bread, when she made her presence known at 10.10, and quickly departed afterwards. 

Black-headed Gulls Re-sighted on Today's Visit  (Sunday 23rd October 2016)
 2ABN   2ABK   2BRA   2AAF   T35J   2AAA   2AAH   2AAR   2ADJ   2AAD 
 2ABS   2AAN   2ADV   2ABL   2AAT   2ABA   2AAC   2AAK   2ABF    

Today's Absentees
 2AAP   2AAB   2AAV   2ACV   2ANS   2ALH   2CJR 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
Mallard numbers were low today, with 27 counted on my arrival, and around 60 were present by the time of my departure.

A single un-ringed Mute Swan was joined by 4 cygnets, which arrived from up-river at 10.23.  I reckoned these were the same youngsters, which I've been seeing over the last few weeks, minus their parents.  They readily exited the river to be hand fed with bread, so I knew these were the same birds.

Two more swans swam in from the Lough at 10.40, which included   W34158 .  Just after 12.00, saw the arrival of a further two swans, taking the total to 5 adults and 4 cygnets.  I did not see what direction they came from, but these turned out to be the parents of the cygnets, with the female being her usual aggressive self.

An adult Common Gull arrived at 09.17, only staying for about 15 minutes.  A  juvenile then appeared at 09.45, staying most of the morning.  If my mind serves me right, I think this is the first juvenile to be recorded since my winter visits started in early August.  Another adult appeared at 11.45, but looked like the same bird from earlier.

An adult Herring Gull was sighted at 11.48, soon followed by a juvenile at 11.51.  I could tell by the features on the adult, this was a completely new bird as compared to those previously sighted here.  Both birds were gone by 12.30.

A maximum 7 Jackdaws, 2 Hooded Crows, 1 Magpie and a single Pied Wagtail were the only other species noted during today's visit.

Elim Church, Parkhall  & KFC car park
Finishing at the Marina, I then checked the Elim Church at Parkhall, to see if   2AAV  was present.  Having discovered that   2AAV  can be found at the Church, my last sighting of it here was on the 18th September.  I personally have not seen this gull at Antrim Marina, since I began my winter visits there in early August, though Neville McKee spotted it there on the 3rd September 2016.    2AAV  was present today, in a group of 23 other BHGs and a juvenile Herring Gull.

Around 60 Black-headed Gulls were present at the KFC car park.  Neither of the two 'ringed' birds from Finland or Norway, that have been recorded this winter, were to be seen.  I had thought the Norwegian   JK35   was going to spend the winter here, but having returned and spending a month at KFC, it now looks as if this gull has moved on.  If this is the case, I should see it again in January, when it stops by again for a while on it's return journey to Norway.
Black-headed Gull  -    2AAV   -  Elim Church, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (23 Oct 2016)


      Wednesday 19th October 2016       
I decided to visit Whitehouse Lagoon today, but had to wait until late afternoon, for the tide to start going out.  The Lagoon was still flooded when I arrived, with very few birds about, as very little of the mudflats here were exposed.

I then drove over to the shore at Kinnego, situated on the County Down side of Belfast Lough.  Parking the car with a good view of the beach, I waited for the tide to recede.  Soon afterwards, the gulls and waders started arriving to feed on the shoreline.  Scoping lots of these birds, especially very good numbers of Black-headed Gulls, I spotted a 'colour-ring', albeit on a Herring Gull -   0L:W .  I also sighted an Oystercatcher with a 'metal', but had no hope of reading the number over such a distance.

Knowing the Herring Gull, would have come from a project based on the Copeland Islands in County Down, I reported the gull to Adam McClure, who is the ringing co-ordinator for the project.

  0L:W  was ringed as an adult, on the 22nd May 2014, on Big Copeland Island.  It's only previous sighting was on the 21st November 2015, also here at Kinnego, which is situated only a few miles away from the Copelands. 

Herring Gull  -    0L:W   -  Kinnegar Shoreline, Co. Down   (19 Oct 2016)

Driving back towards Whitehouse Lagoon, I stopped briefly by the mudflats at Dargan.  Scoping the birds here, I spotted an Oystercatcher with a 'Yellow-Darvic'.  It was well out on the mudflats, but I only just managed to get the code with my camera -   T64 .

Having just recently published a post on my Blog, concerning an Oystercatcher found by Suzanne Belshaw at Killough in County Down -   T96 , I knew my Oystercatcher would have been ringed by the Grampian Ringing Group in Scotland.  Adam McClure also posted Suzanne's sighting on his Blog, also making reference to his sighting of   T64  at Dargan last winter.

I have emailed Harry Scott about my sighting of   T64 , but you can read about it on Adam's Blog (here) and (here).
Oystercatcher  -    T64   -  Dargan Mudflats, Belfast  (19 Oct 2016)

Returning to Whitehouse Lagoon, plenty of gulls and waders were now present on the exposed mudflats.  I was especially on the look-out for a Norwegian Black-headed Gull with a 'Green-Darvic', spotted here in October last year.  After a pro-longed visit, the only 'colour-rings' spotted were two BHGs from Adam's Study -   2APT  and   2BNA , the latter being a new sighting for me.

Having received the file for   2BNA , from Adam, my sighting was a first for this gull which was ringed as a chick on the 1st July 2013, at Blue Circle Island in Larne Lough.  The distance between the two sites is only 20 kms / 12 miles, but it makes you wonder where this gull has been over the last three years.

Black-headed Gull  -    2BNA   -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast  (19 Oct 2016)

As for   2APT , today's sighting is my fourth record of this BHG.  Ringed as a chick in 2015, at Castle Espie in County Down, it's first ever sighting was made on the 20th August 2016, when I spotted it on the shoreline at nearby Whiteabbey. 

Black-headed Gull  -    2APT   -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast  (19 Oct 2016)


      Saturday 22nd October 2016       
I could not get away until late this afternoon and knowing the tides on the east coast would not be to my favour, I decided to go to County Donegal, then on my return, would check the mudflats at Ballykelly.

Inch Island Lake
The lake is now teeming with wildfowl, gulls and waders.  Due to the nature of the surrounding area, it is near impossible to get anyways close enough to scope legs for rings.  Canada Geese are here in larger numbers than in previous visits and good numbers of Whooper Swans have now arrived.

All geese and swans were scoped for 'neck-collars', with three being spotted on Greylags.  I managed to get the codes on two of these.  The first was   B|PH , a new sighting for me.  The sighting of   A|DC  is my second record of this goose, having initially recorded it on the 17th September 2016.  I have reported my latest sighting to the Irish Greylag Goose Study Group.

I am still waiting on the PDF Files for all of my Greylag sightings.  The Group seem to be disappointingly slow in sending these files, which in the long run, may put folk off from reporting their sightings.  Anyone or group, running 'colour-ring' projects, really need to be on the ball when it comes to replying about sightings reported to them.
Greylag Goose  -    B|PH   -  Inch Island Lake, Co. Donegal  (22 Oct 2016)

Greylag Goose  -    A|DC   -  Inch Island Lake, Co. Donegal  (22 Oct 2016)

I located a number of Whooper Swans feeding in the fields close to Inch Lake.  All the flocks found were in Barley fields, but no legs were visible due to the height of the stubble and many of the swans were settled well away from the road.  Judging by the number of juveniles present, it looks as if many of the swans had a good breeding season.  Hopefully, I can get to check for rings on a later visit.

On my way Ballykelly, I stopped by the New Foyle Bridge.  As the tide here was receding, quite a number of gulls were busy feeding on the edge of the Foyle River.  Scoping them, no rings were spotted.  As far as I know, there has been no reported sightings of any of the Black-headed Gull chicks that were 'colour-ringed' at Inch Island this summer.  I'm doing my best when I come up here, but even I'm drawing a blank.

At the mudflats at Ballykelly, only a handful of Brent Goose families were present.  Scoping them and a small number of gulls and waders close to me, no more rings were sighted.  There was a single Mediterranean Gull here, the first I've spotted in this area.


      Sunday 23rd October 2016       
After my latest visit to Antrim Marina, I drove down to Kinnego Marina, as it has been a few weeks since my last visit there.  With the recent flow of easterly winds, I had a hunch that I might find a Black-headed Gull of special interest.

I recorded three of Adam's 'colour-ringed' gulls here, which also included the bird I was hoping to see -   2BPP .  Adam caught this gull at Kinnego on the 29th October 2014 and found that it was carrying a Latvian ring -   T10932 .  Before releasing the gull, Adam added one of his own 'colour-rings'.

  2BPP  was subsequently re-sighted twice at Kinnego during the winter of 2014/15 and was next re-ported by Eddie Fritze, at a dump in the Latvian capital Riga, on the 12th April 2015.  My first ever sighting of   2BPP , was made on the 26th November 2015, confirming it's return at Kinnego for a second winter.

I am waiting on an updated file for   2BPP  from Adam, but at least it's back for the third winter running.  I have special interest in this gull, having been ringed as a chick on the 13th June 2005, at Masenu Lake, Riga, Latvia, it is the fourth oldest BHG on my records.  It is now 11 years, 4 months and 10 days, from being ringed to my sighting today.

The other two BHGs to be re-sighted are   2BPN  and   2BPV , both often recorded here and may well be all year residents in this area of Lough Neagh.

Black-headed Gull  -    2BPP   -  Kinnego Marina, Co. Armagh  (23 Oct 2016)

The Peoples Park, Ballymena
Returning home in Ballymena, I noticed there was a good number of Black-headed Gulls on the roof of the former 'Cottage Hospital' which overlooks the lake at The Peoples Park.  I was going to ignore the Park, but when I also spotted a fair number of gulls perched on the park's Pavilion roof, I changed my mind and called in.

It has been a long time, since I've mentioned my local park on the Blog.  It is not for the lack of visits, but is due to the lack of rings spotted here.  How glad was I for stopping by today!  With what little bread that remained from my visits to Antrim and Kinnego Marina's, I started to attract the gulls onto the small beach area.  The Peoples Park always looks like a nursery for young Black-headed Gulls, as they often number 60 to 80 percent of the gulls present at any time.

In no time at all, I spotted a young BHG with a 'Black-Darvic' -   2AXV .  I had no trouble getting photos of this one, as all the young gulls are now very hungry.  Returning home, I checked the cr-birding site, to see where the gull originated from.

It was ringed by the Brewood Ringing Group in the West Midlands of England.  I sent an email to Ben Dolan and received a reply shortly afterwards.    2AXV   was ringed on the 7th June 2016 at Marsh Lane Nature Reserve, Meridan, West Midlands, England.

This is my second record of a long distance youngster so far this winter, having flown 408 kms / 254 miles, north-west to get to Ballymena.  I wonder if these youngsters are getting caught up in Black-headed Gull flocks which have been taking advantage of the run of easterly winds which we have been experiencing in Northern Ireland.  If this is the case, perhaps a few more ringed youngsters remain to be discovered here.

My thanks go to Ben, for his speedy reply and the details of this young Black-headed Gull.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AXV   -  The People's Park, Ballymena, Co. Antrim  (23 Oct 2016)

Marsh Lane Nature Reserve, England  To  Ballymena, Northern Ireland


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

One of my Own...

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina (Sunday 16th October 2016)       
What a change in the weather, for my latest Sunday visit to Antrim Marina.  The first couple of hours, saw almost constant rain and the wind was quite strong, blowing in from a south-easterly direction.  The thick cloud, while it was raining, made for quite dark conditions and this seemed to reflect on the lack of birds present.

Having recorded at grand total of 24 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, so far this winter, I was on the lookout for two new arrivals today, as predicted in my last couple of posts.  The 'cr-ringed' gulls appeared in 'dribs & drabs' over the course of the morning.  At 10.30, the first of the two predicted birds and my 6th sighting of the morning, appeared -   2AAR .

The next 'cr-ringed' gull to be recorded at 11.15, was my 2nd predicted bird -   2ADV .  It is brilliant to have both of these back for another winter.  I've added their latest photos and arrival/departure dates below.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AAR   -  Antrim Marina  (16 Oct 2016)

Date Details Location
21 Dec 2012 Ringed as an Adult Male by Adam D. McClure Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
12 Mar 2013 Ring Read by Keith Stevens Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
05 Apr 2013 Ring Read by Artur Blad Pomorskie, Gdańsk-Kowale, Poland - 1592km.
11 Apr 2013 Ring Read by Michal Polakowski Podlaskie, Hryniewicze, Poland - 1919km.
20 Oct 2013 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
09 Mar 2014 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
17 Oct 2014 Ring Read by Adam D. McClure Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
15 Mar 2015 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
11 Oct 2015 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
15 Mar 2016 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
16 Oct 2016 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
    2AAR's   History  -  Arrival & Departure Dates at Antrim Marina
Each Colour Band Represents First & Last Sightings Each Winter
The Blue Colour Band is the Polish Sightings, the 2nd being at a Breeding Colony

Black-headed Gull  -    2ADV   -  Antrim Marina  (16 Oct 2016)

Date Details Location
16 Dec 2013 Ringed as an Adult Male by Adam D. McClure Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
22 Dec 2013 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
02 Feb 2014 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland
12 Oct 2014 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland
15 Feb 2015 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
04 Oct 2015 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
31 Jan 2016 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
16 Oct 2016 Ring Read by Gareth D.A. Platt Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
  2ADV's   History  -  Arrival & Departure Dates at Antrim Marina
Each Colour Band Represents First & Last Sightings Each Winter

When I arrived this morning, only two BHGs were present and a total of 46 gulls were counted at 11am.  After this, numbers started to increase, the maximum reaching around 100 gulls soon afterwards.  Overall, the numbers were surprising low, with such poor weather conditions.  I thought the gulls would be here in numbers looking for 'handouts'.

Only 14 'colour-ringed' BHGs were sighted altogether today.  With the arrival of   2AAR   and   2ADV , the overall total now increases to 26, out of the possible 33, that I hope to record by the end of the winter.  Next Sunday should see the return of   2ACX , possibly along with   2ADF , who I don't really expect back till the following Sunday.

Black-headed Gulls Sighted Today
 2ACV   2AAH   2AAN   2AAF   2ADJ   2ABK   2AAR 
 2ADV   2AAD   2BRA   2AAT   2AAK   2ABA   2ABS 

Black-headed Gulls Absent on Today's Visit
 T35J   2AAP   2AAA   2AAC   2ABN   2AAB 
 2ABL   2ABF   2AAV   2ANS   2ALH   2CJR 

At 11.10, 'One-Leg' arrived, hovering at the window of my car looking for her usual feed of bread.  Each time, she takes a piece from my hand, she flies in a circuit over the river, returning for another bit.  Having had her fill, she flew off and was not seen again for the remainder of my visit.

There is still no sign of   2AAS , which should have returned in early August, and I'm now fearing, we've 'lost' this one.    2ALH   has not appeared again - has it gone back to County Down?  I'll have to think about going to Bangor and Ballyholme, to try and locate it.

The youngster   2CJR , still has not re-visited Antrim Marina, so I reckon this one has moved on.  There was also no sign of the 'metal-ringed' youngster -   EY98706 , that I spotted briefly last Sunday.  The ringing details for this young gull have arrived from the BTO (see below). 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
As mentioned above, the darkened weather conditions, seemed to effect the number of birds seen at the Marina on today's visit.  On arrival only 24 Mallards were counted and there were no Mute Swans present.  The Mallard numbers reached a high of around 50 birds later in the morning, well down on the usual maximum.

One local even suggested the local Council were actually removing the ducks, which foreigners usually get the blame for.  I've been watching this site for long enough now, to know that numbers can fluctuate quite strongly, for whatever reasons.  I'd be quite sure, that no-one are taking them.

The first Mute Swans arrived in from the Lough at 10.00, this being the pair with the four cygnets.  They stopped by the small beach area for about five minutes and then swam back out onto the Lough.  A further four swans appeared, one at 11.30, the 'metal-ringed'   W34158   at 12.22, and the final two arriving at 12.36.  On looking at the legs of the un-ringed swans, the bird with the fish-hook embedded on it's leg was not here today.

No Common Gulls today, but a juvenile Herring Gull, arrived for a brief stop at 12.31.

Other birds recorded today, were a max of 14 Jackdaws, 1 Hooded Crow, 1 Magpie, 1 Pied Wagtail and 1 Grey Wagtail.  A Kingfisher was about for around 15 minutes on the opposite side of the river from the Marina.  Although, I heard it on a number of occasions, I could not see where it was.

Parkhall Estate & Antrim KFC
As   2AAV   was not at the Marina, I went to Elim Church at the Parkhall housing estate, to see if it was there, but no sign of it.  It has been four weeks since I last saw it here.  This seems to be it's favourite haunt away from the Marina, but goodness knows where it's going to, as I'm not getting it at the Marina either.

At the car park of the Antrim KFC, higher numbers of Black-headed Gulls were present, but again there was no sign of the 'metal-ringed' bird from Finland or the 'colour-ringed' bird from Norway.  Perhaps, these two have moved on as well.

      Ringing Details Received       
Great Black-backed Gull  -  White 9H3:C  & Common Gull  -    2A60 
As mentioned in my post last week, the sighting of White 9H3:C back on the 3rd of September, had slipped my mind, until I re-sighted the Common Gull   2A60 , at Millisle last Sunday.  Reporting   2A60   to Iain Livingstone, Secretary of the Clyde Ringing Group, I asked if   2A60   had been sighted anywhere since my last record of it on the 5th March 2016 and also enquired about the ringing details of 9H3:C.

Iain has replied, answering both questions.  Common Gull   2A60 , has not been reported since my last sighting in March.  The juvenile Great Black-backed Gull - White 9H3:C , was ringed as a chick on the 14th July 2016, at Lady Isle, an island situated just off the coast at Troon in Ayrshire, Scotland.  My sighting was a first for this gull, having flown 127 kms / 79 miles south-westerly, to reach Portavogie Harbour.

My thanks to Iain for supplying the info for both gulls.

Lady Isle, Troon, Scotland to Portavogie Harbour, N. Ireland

Black-headed Gull  -    EY98706 
This young Black-headed Gull was seen for less than two minutes at Antrim Marina last Sunday (9th Oct).  Having hurriedly taken a few photos, I was delighted to have captured the whole number on it's 'metal-ring'.  Having reported   EY98706   online to the BTO, I now have it's ringing details and a nice one it is too.

  EY98706  was ringed as a chick on the 17th June 2016, at the Saltholme Nature Reserve owned by The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.  Saltholme is situated on the east coast of England.  This is another long distance record of a youngster ringed on the British Mainland finding it's way to Northern Ireland, having flown 323 kms / miles west to get to Antrim Marina.

RSPB Saltholme Reserve, England to Antrim Marina, N. Ireland

In the autumn of 2015, I recorded three long distance juvenile BHGs.    EY98138 , another youngster from Saltholme, flew 300 kms / 186 miles to get to Victoria Park in Belfast.    EY13763  ringed at Coquet Island on the east coast of England, wintered at Antrim Marina, having flown 308 kms / 191 miles.  Best of the bunch was   EW45293 , ringed at Loch Borralie on the north coast of Scotland.  This one travelled an impressive 463 kms / 297 miles to Kinnego Marina, on the southern edge of Lough Neagh.  

Black-headed Gull  -     ST239.172 
Finally, after a long wait, the ringing details of Black-headed Gull -   ST239.172 , have arrived from Finland.  My first sighting of this gull was on the 18th September 2016, at the car park of the KFC outlet in Antrim Town.  It was still present there over the next two weeks, having been recorded on the 25th September and 2nd October.  I wrote in my post at that time, this gull was likely to have been ringed between 2002 and 2004.

My assumption was spot on, as   ST239.172 , was caught and ringed as a juvenile on the 11th July 2004.  What's more, it was ringed by the same ringer - Jyrki Matikainen, at the same location - Turku, as the Black-headed Gull that I spotted in Coleraine on the 11th August 2016.  This one,   ST255.167 , was ringed as a juvenile there in July 2006.

  ST239.172 , is now the third oldest BHG that I have recorded.  The Icelandic   571487 , ringed as a chick in 2003, is the 2nd oldest, while   ET02500 , whose full number was obtained in July 2016 (2nd attempt), at Ballywalter, was ringed as a chick in June 1998, on the Copeland Islands, here in Northern Ireland.

The distance from Turku to Antrim is 1,799 kms / 1,117 miles in a south-west direction.  12 years, 2 months and 7 days, had elapsed from ringing until the first sighting of   ST239.172 .

Turku, Finland to Antrim Town, Northern Ireland

Oystercatcher's  -  ON-WfY  &  OO-W(AA)
Last Sunday (9th October 2016), I spotted a 'colour-ringed' Oystercatcher on the mudflats at Dargan, Belfast.  Having reported 'ON-Y' to the Icelandic Wader Group, they confirmed my suspicion that this bird was missing a 'White-flag'.

ON-WfY - (Orange over Black - White flag over Yellow), was ringed as a chick on the 13th July 2015 at Miơhús, near Hella, Southern Iceland.  My sighting at Dargan was a first for this Oystercatcher.

OO-W(AA) - (Orange over Orange - White Darvic (letters AA), which I have now re-sighted several times at Carnlough Bay, in County Antrim, was caught on the nest while incubating 'dummie' eggs, on the 10th May 2016.  The Oystercatcher's real eggs were replaced after the bird was ringed and released.  The ringing site was at Brautarholt, which lies just to the north from the Capital - Reykjavik.

My thanks goes to Böddi, for supplying the ringing details for these two Oystercatchers.


      Saturday 15th October 2016       
Today, I visited sites on the coast near Belfast.  With only a couple of hours to spare, I started at Whitehouse Lagoon and made my way northwards to Carrickfergus.  No new ringed birds were located, but I did re-sight five 'colour-ringed' birds, two of these with Orange 'Darvic's', being from Adam's NI Study.  All five birds have been recorded at these same locations in previous weeks.  The tide was well out, which was not very helpful.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ASF    -  Whitehouse Lagoon  (15 Oct 2016)

Common Gull  -    2AIP   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline  (15 Oct 2016)

Lesser Black-backed Gull  -    F461   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline  (15 Oct 2016)

Mediterranean Gull  -    PNU0   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline  (15 Oct 2016) 

Black-headed Gull  -    2AFB   -  Carrickfergus Harbour  (15 Oct 2016)


      Sunday 16th October 2016       
After my latest visit to Antrim Marina, I decided to do a re-run of yesterday's sites, but included Dargan as a starting point and after Carrickfergus, visited Whitehead, Glynn and finished at Sandy Bay in Larne.

Ringed birds, whether new sightings or re-sightings were hard to come by today.  At Whitehouse Lagoon, I did spot a Black-headed Gull which had a taller 'metal-ring' than those used by the BTO, so I knew this gull was foreign.  Unfortunately, I was nowhere near it to take photos.  I did however spot the 'colour-ringed' Oystercatcher - GW-GfN.

At Whitehead, I saw two 'metal-ringed' Common Gulls, an adult and a juvenile.  Again, I could not get close enough to read these rings.  Of interest, was my second sighting of a Mediterranean Gull, this one was not ringed.  Before that, I had taken a better photo of   PNU0 , at Whiteabbey, the same 'Med' Gull I re-sighted there yesterday.

Mediterranean Gull  -    PNU0   -  Whiteabbey Shorline (16 Oct 2016)

Mediterranean Gull  -  Whitehead  (16 Oct 2016)


      Monday 17th October 2016       
Today, I drove up to the north coast, stopping at Portrush, before calling by the Strand Road in Coleraine.  I was on the lookout for 'ringed' BHGs, which I located at both sites last winter.

After checking the gulls at the East Strand car park, followed by Landsdowne Crescent, both in Portrush, no ringed birds were sighted.  Reaching Coleraine, I stopped for a while at my sister's house.  Christine, had an operation recently.  I knew she had a problem, but she had kept the 'op', fairly quiet.

Leaving my sister's house, I then went to the Strand Road, where I quickly spied one of the Black-headed Gulls that I was after -   2E18 .  My first sighting of this gull was on Boxing Day 2015.  I last recorded the gull on the 30th January 2016.  Click (here) to read my post concerning the ringing details of   2E18 .  There was no sign of a Norwegian BHG, that I also recorded here last winter.  

Black-headed Gull  -    2E18   -  Strand Road, Coleraine  (17 Oct 2016)

Leaving the Strand Road, I drove to the McDonalds fast food outlet, quite close by.  This was my third visit here since August.  I struck lucky this time, as I spotted a juvenile BHG which was 'metal-ringed'.  I then realised the ring was on it's left leg and wondered straight away - could this be a gull that I ringed during the summer.

Examining lots of photographs, I had successfully completed the number -   EZ61022 .  This was one of the young Black-headed Gull chicks which I ringed at Inch Island Lake, in Co. Donegal, on the 31st May 2016, as part of my training to become a ringer.  I was really delighted to get this bird.

Back on August 11th 2016, I had spotted another BHG at Portrush which I had ringed on the same date.  Due to my attention being switched to a couple of Sandwich Terns, I never got the full ring number -   EZ610** , before the young gull flew away and has never been seen there since.  It could be possible, that the gull I got at McDonalds today, might be the same bird that I saw in Portrush.  

Black-headed Gull  -    EZ61022   -  McDonalds, Coleraine  (17 Oct 2016)

The distance from Inch Island Lake to Coleraine, is nowhere near as good as that of the young gull mentioned above, but all sightings count.    EZ61022 , has only travelled 51 kms / 32 miles east from County Donegal.

I even had the good fortune of this young gull, landing on the roof of my car.  Funny, the way some young gulls quickly lose their fear of people, especially when hunger begins to bite hard.

Black-headed Gull  -    EZ61022   -  McDonalds, Coleraine  (17 Oct 2016)


Thursday, 13 October 2016

From Suzanne Belshaw...

      Colour-ring Sightings from Suzanne Belshaw       
Recently, I recevied an email from Suzanne Belshaw, regarding some of her latest 'Colour-ring' sightings.  Suzanne, assisted me during the summer months, with her sightings at Antrim Marina, in order to identify all of the 'Resident' Black-headed Gulls at the site.  Suzanne now concentrates her efforts at Kinnego Marina and Lurgan Park, as well as looking for 'rings' elsewhere.

I'd like to thank Suzanne for allowing me to post her latest sightings on my Blog, along with photos and the ringing details that were sent to her.

Great Black-backed Gull  -  1K5:C
Suzanne spotted (White 1K5:C), at Ardglass Harbour on the 24th August 2016.  Having reported her sighting to Iain Livingstone, the secretary for the Clyde Ringing Group, in Ayrshire, Scotland, he replied with this gull's history.

1K5:C, was ringed as a chick, on the 28th June 2014, at Horse Island Nature Reserve, Ardrossan, Ayrshire.  There has been two previous re-sightings prior to Suzanne's - the 21st June 2015 and on the 17th January 2016, both of these were also at Ardglass Harbour.  The distance from Horse Island NR to Ardglass, is around 161 kms / 100 miles, in a south-west direction.
Great Black-backed Gull  -  1K5:C  -  Ardglass Harbour, Co. Down  (24 Aug 2016)
(Photo taken by Suzanne Belshaw)

Great Black-backed Gull  -    R62:M  
A second 'Colour-ringed' Great Black-backed Gull, was sighted just down the road from Ardglass, at Killough, again on the 24th August 2016.  This immature gull, was ringed by the Manx Ringing Group on the Isle of Man, a large island situated in the Irish Sea, between Northern Ireland and the British Mainland.  My guess, is that it was ringed at the Point of Ayre Gravel Pits, in the north of the island.  The distance between the two sites, is roughly 88 kms / 52 miles - west-south-west.

Suzanne, has reported this gull to both the BTO and Kevin Scott - the Ringing Secretary for the Manx Ringing Group.  Up to the posting of this article, there has been no contact from either party.  When Suzanne receives a reply, I will add the details in the 'Ringing Details Received' section, in a later post.

Great Black-backed Gull  -    R62:M   -  Killough, Co. Down  (24 Aug 2016)
(Photo taken by Suzanne Belshaw)

Oystercatcher  -    T96 
The third of a trio of 'Colour-rings' spotted by Suzanne on the 24th August 2016, was   T96  on an Oystercatcher, again at Killough, County Down.  Harry Scott from the Grampian Ringing Group in Scotland, replied to Suzanne, not only supplying the ringing details, but also a brief outline of their Oystercatcher project:-

  T96  was one of a brood of three chicks, ringed on the 13th June 2015, in the Strathdon area of Aberdeenshire, in Scotland.  Suzanne's sighting was a first for this Oystercatcher, having flown 366 kms / 227 miles, south-west to get to Killough.

Harry, also sent Suzanne a photo of   T96  and it's siblings, just after they had been ringed (photo below).

Oystercatcher  -    T96   -  Killough, Co. Down  (24 Aug 2016)
(Photo by Suzanne Belshaw)

Oystercatcher -    T96  & Siblings  -  Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland  (13 Jun 2015)
(Photo Courtesy of Harry Scott via Suzanne Belshaw)

Black-headed Gull  -    2ALP 
During my recent visits to Whitehouse Lagoon, I have been on the lookout for three Black-headed Gulls of special interest.  Two of these are foreign-ringed gulls - White T56W from Poland and   JM75   from Norway.  I have already reported about the return of White T56W, but as yet, there has been no sightings of   JM75 .

The third gull is   2ALP  from the Northern Ireland Study being run by Adam McClure.  Having been ringed as a chick in June 2013, at Blue Circle Island in Larne Lough, I spotted it twice last winter at Whitehouse Lagoon, it's first re-sightings.  The big news however, came in July, when   2ALP  was sighted at Hovindammen, in Norway, by John Sandøy (Read Adam's Post Here).  This is the first record of a known NI bred Black-headed Gull, that may have bred elsewhere in Europe.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ALP   -  Hovindammen, Oslo, Norway  (16 Jul 2016)
(Photo Courtesy of John Sandøy via Adam McClure's Blog)

Expecting this gull's return to Whitehouse Lagoon for another winter, Suzanne Belshaw beat me to it, by recording   2ALP  there on the 28th September 2016.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ALP   -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Co. Antrim  (28 Sep 2016)
(Photo by Suzanne Belshaw)