Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Latvian BHG Returns...

Not much to write about this week.  I spent most of my afternoons, from Tuesday until Friday, in my back garden.  Being completely covered with concrete and paving slabs, the build up of Moss, Lichens and Fungi, made it all a depressing sight.  I spent several hours each day, power hosing and lifting the sludge.

Even the wooden garden gates and shed, received the hose and are ready now for a much needed coat of paint.  This should have been done during the summer months, but only the front garden saw the paintbrush.

I had planned to go out birding on both Saturday and Sunday, but the car developed a small problem.  The engine kept cutting out whenever I tried to slow down or stop and would also cut out while out of gear, idling.  Why is it, problems with cars always happens at weekends.

One thing was certain, I was not going to miss out on my weekly visit to Antrim Marina.  Having not missed a Sunday, since I started these visits in September 2013, the problems with the car would not produce a hole in my records.

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina (Sunday 13th November 2016)       
Back in early August, I stated that my overall target for Darvic-rung Black-headed Gulls, would total 32 individual birds by the end of the 2016/17 winter.  There has been one addition to the total, when a youngster -   2CJR , ringed in June 2016, put in a single appearance.

With the arrival of   2BRD  two weeks ago, the total reached 27 out of a possible 33 gulls.  Over the last couple of weeks, I had predicted the return of   2ACX , which after today's visit, is still absent.  This gull is now a month overdue and I'm beginning to think that we've lost another bird.

I have also been predicting the return of   2AFD .  I had commented, there could be a slight chance of it's return last Sunday, but really did not expect it until today.  As there was no sign of it last week, then today was the day.  At 11.03 this morning, my 17th re-sighting, was indeed   2AFD .  Ringed by Adam McClure, as an adult male, here at Antrim Marina on the 12th February 2014, we know that this gull goes to Latvia to breed (Read Here).  My last sighting of   2AFD  was made on the 6th March 2016.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AFD   -  Antrim Marina  (13 Nov 2016)

The return of   2AFD , now takes my total of 'colour-ringed' gulls to 28, out of the new revised total of 33.    2ACX , as mentioned above, is one of 5 gulls that has yet to return.    2AAS , should have been here since early August and I reckon that we have 'lost' this gull.    2ADD , we know winter's at Carrickfergus on the east coast of County Antrim and should return to Marina by early March next year.

This now leaves us with   2BRB  and   2BRC .  Both of these gulls were ringed at the Marina on the 1st February 2014, along with   2BRA  and   2BRD .  Except for   2BRA , I am still trying to build profiles on these birds.    2BRD  has a patchy re-sighting history and only seems to be a regular during the months of December and early January.

  2BRC , on the other hand, arrived back at the Marina last winter on the 25th October, but was then absent until the 17th January 2016.  It was recorded for about a month, then disappeared again.  Going by it's re-sighting history, I'm not sure when to expect it back again, perhaps it might be January next year.

  2BRB , failed to return at all last winter.  It could be possible, that this gull was just passing through at the time when it was caught and ringed.  I have not given up on this one yet and there's always the chance that it might turn up during this winter.

Of the 28 gulls that have now been recorded this winter, 26 should now form the benchmark for weekly sightings.  The two exceptions are   2CJR , as mentioned above, just passing through and   2ALH .

  2ALH  is known to winter in County Down, but bred during the 2016 summer in the locality of Antrim Marina.  After the breeding season ended, it remained until the 11th September and has more than likely returned to it's wintering site.  I'm hoping   2ALH  will return to breed here again next year, but before then, I will have a go at locating it at Bangor or Ballyholme.

97 Black-headed Gulls were present when I arrived this morning.  It was not quite as cold as last week, as the wind was blowing from a south-westerly direction and there was a heavy cover of cloud.  During my four hour visit, I recorded 23 'Colour-ringed' BHGs.  The highest number of gulls present was between 10.30 and 11.30, with a maximum of around a 150 birds.  There was no sign of the Icelandic-rung BHG which arrived back last Sunday.

I do not think there was such a high turnover of gulls coming and going this week.  'One-leg', was with me as soon as I arrived and quickly enjoyed a feed of bread.  She soon disappeared, but came back for 'seconds' around mid-day.  Another 'one-legged' BHG was also present today, this one though was missing it's left leg.  I've noted a 'right-legged' gull in previous winters, but would have no idea if this would be the same bird.

Each week that I come here, I spend a bit of time hand feeding the gulls.  Several of them are becoming so used to me, they'd even perch on the door of my car when it is left open.  Dropping bread at my feet while kneeling, several of the youngsters could easily be caught by hand.  My intention, is to gain the gulls confidence, which will help me to catch and ring them once I obtain my 'C' Permit.  I now have one bird, which has started to alight on my hand.

Black-headed Gull Re-sightings  (Sunday 13th November 2016)
 2AAN   2ABK   2AAH   2ABL   2AAK   2BRA   2ADJ   2AAP 
 2ABF   2ABN   2AAD   2AAT   2ADV   2AAR   2ACV   2AAA 
 2AFD   2BRD   2ABS   2ABA   2AAF   2AAB   2AAV 

Today's Absentees
 T35J   2AAC   2ANS   2ALH   2CJR 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
The lower turnover in BHGs was also reflected with fewer Common Gulls visiting.  The adult with the bad leg was present all morning.  A second adult arrived around 11am, followed by a single juvenile at 12.07.  The Scottish-rung female did not appear.  The Herring Gull which arrived a couple of weeks ago, was also present throughout the morning.

The first Mute Swan to appear, was the independent juvenile at 10.13, which arrived from up-river.  Two un-ringed swans swam in from the Lough at 10.30.  W34158 came from up-river at 11.20.  These were the only swans today.

As with the swans, Mallard numbers were also low.  31 birds were counted when I arrived and a head count just before I departed at 1pm, gave a total of 52.  There has been no sign of any ringed Mallards from County Monaghan.  Normally, some of the ducks ringed and released by the gun clubs there, end up here.

The only other species at the Marina today were, a max of 9 Jackdaws, 1 Hooded Crow and a single Pied Wagtail.

Antrim KFC
As   2AAV  was at the Marina today, I did not have to stop at the Parkhall Housing Estate.  Passing through the estate on my way to the KFC car park, there wasn't a single BHG on the roof of the Elim Church anyway.

At the KFC outlet, around 30 BHGs were present, along with one adult and two juvenile Herring Gulls.  The Norwegian-rung Black-headed Gull -   JK35 , was amongst them.

Black-headed Gull  -    JK35   -  KFC, Antrim Town  (13 Nov 2016)


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