Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Curious Visitors...

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina (Sunday 30th October 2016)       
What a glorious autumn day for my latest visit to Antrim Marina.  Very mild, with plenty of sunshine and very little in a way of a breeze.  I had initially thought this was going to be a very poor day in the way of re-sightings.  How wrong was I?  With 124 Black-headed Gulls already present on my arrival, numbers were constant all through the morning.

I attempted no further head-counts, but estimated there may well have been between 200 and 250 individuals, coming and going throughout my four hour visit.  The gulls are now clearly hungry and for many, they were eager to obtain their share of bread being fed to the ducks.

With a total of 26 'Darvic-rung' Black-headed Gulls recorded so far this winter, I nearly recorded a 100 per cent turnout today, in the way of re-sightings.  23 of these gulls were noted, the missing three were   2ABA ,   2ALH  and   2CJR .

  2ABA , is a winter visitor here and the only regular gull missing from today's list.    2ALH , has not been seen here since the 11th September and I reckon this female has returned to County Down to winter at it's usual haunts in Ballyholme or Bangor.    2CJR , ringed in June 2016 at Larne Lough, was only recorded once at the Marina and may well have been passing through.

I even made my first winter sighting of   2AAV  at the Marina today, although Neville McKee reported seeing it here on the 3rd September.  Over previous weeks, I have had to visit the Parkhall housing estate in order to locate   2AAV , which was usually found on the rooftop of the Elim Church.

  2ANS  was re-sighted for only the fourth time since early August.  This gull, ringed here last winter as a juvenile, was recorded throughout the summer and has been classed as a resident.  I had predicted the return of   2ACX  for today's visit, but there was no sign of it.  Surely, it will appear by next Sunday, perhaps with   2AFD , which is now due back from Latvia.

10.45 this morning saw the return of   2BRD .  My last record of this gull at the Marina was on the 31st January 2016.  Adam caught and ringed this male on the 1st February 2015, at the Marina.  I am still trying to build up a profile on this gull, but sightings of it are in-frequent, with most of these being made in November and December.

  2BRD  is not a year round resident, as it was not recorded at all during the summer, when Suzanne Belshaw and myself made regular weekly visits.  With the sighting of   2BRD  today, the overall winter total of 'Darvic-rung' BHGs now increases to 27 and helped towards today's final total of 24 re-sightings.  Slowly and surely, I am now approaching the expected target of 32 (read here), although   2AAS , which should have returned in early August, is still missing.

'One Leg', was late again today, appearing at 10.43.  Although I was not in the car at the time, she made here presence known, by alighting on a bollard at the front of my car.  Feeding her with bread from my hand, she quickly got her fill and I never saw her again after that.

Black-headed Gull Sightings  (Sunday 30th October 2016)
 T35J   2BRA   2AAD   2AAR   2ABL   2AAN   2ABS   2AAT 
 2ABK   2ADJ   2ABF   2AAH   2ADV   2AAA   2AAK   2ABN 
 2ANS   2ACV   2AAC   2BRD   2AAV   2AAP   2AAB   2AAF 

Sunday's Absentees
 2ABA   2ALH   2CJR 

Black-headed Gull  -    2BRD   -  Antrim Marina  (30 Oct 2016)

Black-headed Gull  -    2ANS   -  Antrim Marina (30 Oct 2016)

Black-headed Gull  -    2AAV   -  Antrim Marina  (30 Oct 2016)

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
As stated above, today was great for the number of gulls present.  This was mirrored by an increase in the number of Common Gulls.  Two adults were already present when I arrived and were still present when two juveniles appeared at 10.23.  It was only last Sunday, when I saw my first juvenile Common Gull this winter.  Both of these youngsters remained throughout the remainder of my visit and constantly harried the Black-headed Gulls, forcing them to drop their bread.

A third adult Common Gull arrived at 11.21.  This one reminded me of the small female which was here last winter.  She looks like the Scottish-rung   EY64036 , which arrived at 12.02, making her 3rd visit of the winter.  It's nice to see the number of these birds increasing as well.

A single Herring Gull, was present all morning, being the new gull as mentioned in last weeks post.

Common Gull  -    EY64036   -  Antrim Marina  (30 Oct 2016)

Four adult Mute Swans and a single cygnet were present when I arrived this morning.  I would be fairly sure that the cygnet was the independent youngster I saw a few weeks back.  A total of nine adults were present by the time of my departure at 1pm.  Being so busy checking the BHGs for rings, I never noticed the latter swans arriving or even from what direction.  Two of these had 'metal-rings' and were the usual   W34158  and   Z91982 .

Around 50 Mallards at first, only increased slightly in numbers, with an estimated 70 of these ducks present by the time I left the Marina.  I've yet to record any rings on these so far this winter.

Other birds recorded were a max of 11 Jackdaws, 1 Hooded Crow, 1 Magpie and a single Pied Wagtail.

While at the Marina today, a number of curious people approached me and asked what was I studying.  All found what I was doing very interesting.  One couple along with their two children took special interest.

Their young daughter who enjoys everything to do with nature, being an avid fan of Springwatch and Autumnwatch on TV, couldn't get enough of the gulls when she knew some had rings.  Each time she spotted one, I set my telescope on it, so she could read the ring number.  Do we have a future 'Ring-Reader' here?

The KFC Car Park
As   2AAV  was at Antrim Marina today, I did not have to stop in the Parkhall Estate.  Driving through the estate on my way to KFC, there were very few gulls about anyway.  At the KFC car park, around 50 BHGs, along with three juvenile Herring Gulls, were present.  No sign of the 'ringed' BHGs from Finland or Norway.


      Saturday 29th October 2016       
I drove to County Down this afternoon.  Starting at Millisle and finishing at Portaferry, I was surprised by the lack of gulls around the coast of the outer Ards Peninsular.  Gradually, I realised that farmers were the cause, with several busy ploughing fields. Collectively, there were thousands of gulls following the plough.

At Millisle, I re-sighted three gulls with rings - Common Gulls   2BBC  and   2A60 , as well as Herring Gull   GA00153 .  At Ballywalter, I spotted a Herring Gull -   4H:W , a new sighting for me.  Being another gull from a study on the nearby Copeland Islands, I'm waiting on it's file from Adam McClure, who is the ringing co-ordinator for the project.  Just recently, I spotted   0L:W  at Kinnegar.

Reaching Portaferry, I re-sighted the Great Black-backed Gull -   1JN .  This is my second sighting of this gull, having first recorded it here on the 3rd September 2016.    1JN   was ringed as a chick on the 25th June 2011, at Ireland's Eye, an island just off the coast at Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland.

Common Gull  -    2BBC   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (29 Oct 2016)

Common Gull  -    2A60   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (29 Oct 2016)

Herring Gull  -    GA00153   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (29 Oct 2016)

New Sighting - Herring Gull  -    4H:W   -  Ballywalter, Co. Down  (29 Oct 2016)

Great Black-backed Gull  -    1JN   -  Portaferry Marina, Co. Down


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