|Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina (Sunday 11th December 2016)|
The weather has been exceptionally mild all week, which continued throughout today's visit to Antrim Marina. Overcast, but dry, the westerly wind blowing in from the Lough, was very chilly. Adam, once again called by for a couple of hours, bringing his son Ruben with him. We had hoped to catch and ring another few BHGs, but had no luck today.
Last Sunday, we caught and ringed a juvenile BHG, which in turn became the 30th 'colour-ringed' gull to be recorded at the Marina this winter. With the ringing of 2CJT , my revised total of 'colour-ringed' BHGs, which I hope to record by the end of March, now stands at 34.
When I arrived, shortly after 9am, just 34 BHGs were present. Overall, numbers were not great and never exceeded the 150 mark. This is surprisingly low, considering the time of year, but the mild weather could perhaps be a contributing factor.
I finished my visit, having re-sighted 20 out of the 30 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls. 2CJT , which was ringed last Sunday, was today's 5th sighting. I was especially on the watch for 'metals', as I had hoped to record the return of a Swedish-rung gull. Going by last winter's dates, this BHG is overdue, but no sign of it today.
There was also no sign today, of the Icelandic-rung BHG, which arrived back here on the 6th November. I recorded this bird again on the 20th November and it has not been seen since.
Black-headed Gull Sightings at Antrim Marina (Sunday 11th December 2016)
Juvenile BHG - 2CJT - Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim (11 Dec 2016)
Other Birds at Antrim Marina
The number of adult Common Gulls peaked at 5 birds today, which also included the Scottish-rung EY64036 . Just a single Juvenile was recorded today, arriving just after 12.00. The Herring Gull, which has been coming over recent weeks, arrived at 09.52.
Mallard numbers were a little higher this week, with around 50 when I arrived, increasing to about 70. Still no sign of any rings on these.
The first Mute Swan to appear, arrived at 10.07, this being the usual cygnet which is regularly seen here. An adult arrived at 11.20 from the Lough, but was un-ringed. The lack of Swans over recent weeks is puzzling. When I first started coming here in the winter of 2013/14, there were always good numbers, often as high as 30 birds. What is going on with these birds?
Other birds spotted at the Marina today, were 11 Jackdaws, 1 Hooded Crow, 2 Magpies, a pair of Pied Wagtails and a single Grey Wagtail. A Sparrowhawk flew over at one stage, which scared the gulls off briefly.
Elim Church, Parkhall & Antrim KFC
As 2AAV , was again absent at the Marina, I checked it's usual haunt at the Elim Church in the Parkhall Housing Estate. Around 20 BHGs, 3 Common Gulls and a juvenile Herring Gull, were present, but no sign of 2AAV .
At the KFC outlet, only 9 Black-headed Gulls were counted, but once again, no rings.
|Ringing Details Received|
I was very disappointed in not receiving any of the gull recoveries that I had hoped would arrive during the week. These were for a Belgium BHG sighted on the 9th October, a Mediterranean Gull from Holland (28th November), a 1st winter / juvenile Common Gull from Norway (20th November) and an adult Common Gull (3rd December), which might become the oldest on my records.
I find it very annoying about the Belgium bird, as two months have now passed by since I reported this gull. I know it can take a while, as the Belgium's send recoveries by post, but two months is really far too long. Fingers crossed, some of these will arrive this week.
|Wednesday 7th December 2016|
With a little bit of free time available this afternoon, I headed north to visit sites in Coleraine and Portush.
At the McDonalds fast food outlet, I had hoped to re-sight a young BHG, which I had personally ringed on the 31st May 2016, at Inch Island Lake, Co. Donegal. I first spotted EZ61022 , at McDonalds, on the 17th October 2016 and re-sighted it again on the 31st October. Despite a good number of juveniles, along with a few adults, there was no sign of my gull.
Strand Road Jetty, Coleraine
I was on the lookout for three 'ringed' BHGs at the Strand Road Jetty, these being the Norwegian (White) J9J2, Finnish - ST255.167 and the Scottish-rung 2E18 .
All three were present in the area during the 2015/16 winter, albeit, only a partial number had been recorded for the Finnish bird. I managed to record it's full number on the 11th August 2016, which, after today's visit, is still the only sighting of it so far this winter.
J9J2, has yet to be spotted, despite a number of previous visits. It is not a shy bird by any means and it's continued absence makes you wonder if something has happened to it. Around 100 gulls were in the vicinity of the jetty, but others were perched on nearby rooftops. Perhaps, J9J2 is in the area, but has yet to be re-sighted.
2E18 , was present, my second sighting of it this winter - having first recorded it on the 17th October.
Another Black-headed Gull, with a 'metal-ring' landed on the jetty and took off again a few seconds later. This would be a new 'ring', as it was BTO sized and not taller, unlike a number of foreign rings. Hopefully, this gull will hang around in the area and as the winter progresses, it may be possible to lure it in for some photos and obtain the whole ring number.
Black-headed Gull - 2E18 - Strand Road Jetty, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry (07 Dec 2016)
East Strand Car Park, Portrush
Success here at last. Having checked the East Strand car park in Portrush, on a couple of occasions during the previous months, I finally re-sighted EW83177 . My initial sighting of this Black-headed Gull was made on the 23rd October 2015 (Read Here), followed by further sightings on the 26th December 2015 and 30th January 2016.
Although in my post, I had stated my record could have been a first for the gull, it turns out, that it is no stranger to Portrush. I found it entered on the BTO's Online Ringing Report (Co. Antrim - 2012), where it had been spotted in Portrush on the 5th September 2012.
I was well pleased to see this gull, as I am trying to record as many of last winter's birds as possible.
Black-headed Gull - EW83177 - East Strand Car Park, Portrush, Co. Antrim (07 Dec 2016)
|Saturday 10th December 2016|
Due to a change in my work hours, because of Christmas Production (now 8pm to 4.30am), it was nearly 5am before I got finished and almost 7am, when I finally got to my bed.
This in turn meant it was a late start for me on Saturday and I left home just after 1 pm. I initially toyed with the idea of going to the Myroe Levels in search of geese, but changed my mind and decided to cover the east Antrim coast from Larne to Whiteabbey.
Sandy Bay, Larne & Glynn
No rings to be found at either site, which was no surprise as the tide was well out and most birds would have been unapproachable. Twenty-five Whooper Swans were present at Glynn, but the few legs that I could see produced nothing. I'm still waiting to add this species onto my ring sighting records.
Once again, there was no sign of the 'metal-ringed' Common Gull that I spotted here on the 6th November. Having obtained a partial number - E**6599 , it seems that this gull has moved on. Another Common Gull - 2ADK , which I spotted here on the 28th November, was not to be seen either. My sighting of it that day, was a first since being ringed on the Copeland Islands in 2010.
The Danish Black-headed Gull - White 5HA, was re-sighted feeding on the shore. My first record of this gull, was also made on the 28th November 2016.
Black-headed Gull - Denmark (White) 5HA - Whitehead, Co. Antrim (10 Dec 2016)
In my last post, I had mentioned of my desire to re-sight a BHG with a German ring - IA114059 , which was caught by Adam in January 2016, to which he added a 'colour-ring' - 2ANX . This gull was subsequently spotted twice in Poland during the breeding season and despite recent searches by Adam and myself, we had yet to record it's return to Carrickfergus.
During the week, I checked up on the date that I first recorded IA114059 , last winter - 12th December 2015. It was this date that swayed my decision to work the east coast today, calling by Carrickfergus en-route.
Arriving at Carrickfergus and using bread to lure the gulls towards me, I soon spotted one of Adam's birds - 2ADD . Having made several visits over the last couple of months looking for this gull, this is my second re-sighting of it, having spotted it eight days previously.
Black-headed Gull - 2ADD - Carrickfergus Harbour, Co. Antrim (10 Dec 2016)
Another of Adam's study birds was seen nearby and this one turned out to be 2ADF . I've never given this gull much thought, but after today's sighting and receiving an updated file from Adam, I firmly believe this bird may well be breeding somewhere in Europe and winter's in the Carrickfergus area.
Ringed as an adult female in November 2013 at Carrickfergus, there has only been six re-sightings of this gull since then, all made in the town. My first and only sighting of 2ADF until today, was made on the 3rd October 2015, which was also the last record of it. Seeing as 2ADF , had not been spotted over the recent weeks by Adam or myself, it looks as if it has returned late this year.
There has been no sightings of 2ADF during any of the months from March through to September in any year, which sways my thoughts that it breeds on the Continent.
Black-headed Gull - 2ADF - Carrickfergus Harbour, Co. Antrim (10 Dec 2016)
To my great delight, the third 'colour-ringed' BHG spotted from Adam's Study, was the eagerly awaited on - 2ANX . I was well pleased with this visit to 'Carrick', as another two re-sightings of gulls recorded last winter can be chalked up. Read about 2ANX on Adam's Blog (Here) and on my Blog (Here).
Black-headed Gull - Germany IA114059 / 2ANX - Carrickfergus Harbour, Co. Antrim (10 Dec 2016)
Leaving Carrickfergus, making my way to Whiteabbey, I noticed a large number of gulls on the rocky shoreline. Pulling into a lay-by, I started to scope these and spotted a Black-headed Gull with a 'Green-Darvic'. I had just set foot onto the beach, when all of the gulls took flight and headed towards Belfast. I was raging, as I never had a chance to try and get the code on the ring. I suspect, that this could be another Norwegian bird and will be keeping an eye out for this one on another date.
Driving past the gulls on the shore on my way to the car park, there were loads of gulls, the majority being Black-headed's which easily numbered between 300 to 400 birds. Having just got out of the car, everything took to the air, and these birds also headed in the direction of Belfast. As it was beginning to get dark, they were probably heading to roost, as was possibly the case of the 'Carrick' birds.
|Sunday 11th November 2016|
During the week, I received an email from Suzanne Belshaw and it seemed as if the lake at Lurgan Park, was 'hotting-up', with ringed Black-headed Gulls. Not only did Suzanne re-sight EW5(7)*** , but she also spotted one with a 'Yellow-Darvic' and got another gull, reading a partial number on a 'metal-ring'.
Although not 100% certain, Suzanne thinks the code on the 'Darvic', read T68T and was of Polish origin. The partial on the 'metal' read EL8060* , which would be a new bird, as I don't have a record for this one.
After completing my visit to Antrim Marina, I decided to go to Lurgan Park, as it is vital to obtain the complete numbers on the partials in case any of these gulls move on. I failed to find the 'Yellow Darvic' or EL8060* , but I did record three other ringed BHGs.
The Norwegian - White J4P4, was the first to be spotted, resting with other BHGs on the grass near the entrance to the park. Read my last post about this bird.
Black-headed Gull - Norway (White) J4P4 - Lurgan Park, Co. Armagh (11 Dec 2016)
My next encounter, led to the completion of another partial that has been recorded both by Suzanne and myself in recent weeks. It was confirmation of a gull that I had recorded at Lurgan Park last winter - EW57424 . This gull was ringed as a chick at Kingsbury Water Park in England, on the 21st May 2008 (Read Here).
Black-headed Gull - EW57424 - Lurgan Park, Co. Armagh (11 Dec 2016)
The third Black-headed Gull, was not EL8060* , as I had presumed, but turned out to be another 'new' ring. I was in the process of taking photos, when the usual happened. A walker, with a couple of dogs, scared the gulls off. Checking to see what I had, it was another partial EN29*** on an upside-down ring. I also noticed that the gull was ringed on it's left-leg. Could this be the other 'metal' that I recorded here last winter?
Returning home and checking my records, this was indeed the same Black-headed Gull. My only sighting of it was made on the 26th November 2015 and all I got then was a partial - EN290** .
I will try and get back to Lurgan Park during the week, as we need to 'nail' these numbers as quickly as possible.
Black-headed Gull - EN29--- (Ring Upside-Down) - Lurgan Park, Co. Armagh (11 Dec 2016)