Wednesday, 18 January 2017

No Car...

I do not have much to report about this week.  This is due to problems that I'm having with my car.  The thrust-bearing in the clutch is playing up and it was only a matter of time, before the clutch gave up entirely.

Last night (17th January), the inevitable happened and the car is now off the road - I cannot get any gears.  The best date to get a new clutch is on Thursday next week (26th), so I'm now completely grounded.  This is really annoying, as there are three 'metals', that I'm really eager to get :- Redshank at Coleraine, Oystercatcher at Larne and the possible re-sighting of an Icelandic Black-headed Gull at Ballycastle.

I will not miss next Sunday's visit to Antrim Marina.  I will ask my younger son to run me up in his car.  This being my fourth winter 'Ring Watching' there, I'm determined not to put a 'hole' in my records.  Until the car is back on the road, there will be very little to write about.

      Today's Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina       
Today, I arrived at the Marina just after a light shower of rain, but it remained dry throughout the rest of my visit.  Once again, the visit was conducted in very mild conditions, although cloudy, it was far from being cold, with a light wind blowing.  During the week, we had a cold snap, with freezing temperatures and some snow.  Overall, the winter in Northern Ireland, has been very mild.

I believe that this has been reflected in the number's of Black-headed Gulls that visit the Marina.  At times in the previous couple of winters, the numbers would reach 250 to 300 birds, but no sign of this happening during the current season.  I've noticed a few of the gulls starting to develop their 'dark heads', a sign of the oncoming breeding season.

During today's visit, I re-sighted 19 out of the 30 'colour-ringed' BHGs that have been recorded since the first Sunday in August 2016.  The maximum numbers of these birds present during my visit, was around the 150 mark.  I'm not really expecting to record any 'new rings' for the next few weeks, but this could change once gulls wintering in other locations, start to move towards their breeding sites.

'One-leg', was present throughout my visit, as was the youngster, which readily perches on my hand to feed on bread.  While it was doing this, I slipped my 'index' finger over it's foot and it could have easily been caught.  I have 'metal-rings' in the car and I was tempted to catch and ring the young gull.  I changed my mind, as I'm not licenced to do this.

Black-headed Gulls at Antrim Marina  (Sunday 15th January 2017)
 2AAH   2ABK   2CJT   2AAN   2BRA   2AAD   2ACV   2AAT   2ADJ   2AAK 
 2AAR   2AAF   2ABL   2AAP   T35J   2ABN   2ABF   2AAV   2ADV    

Sunday's Absentees
 2AAA   2AAC   2ABS   2ABA   2AAB   2AFD 
 2BRC   2BRD   2ANS   2ALH   2CJR    
(Note:-   2ALH  is known to be wintering at Ward Park, Bangor, Co. Down)

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
Although the Black-headed Gulls were present in greater numbers this week, it was not the case for Common Gulls.  A single adult arrived at 10.28, staying throughout the rest of my visit.  A juvenile appeared at 10.50, but only stayed for about 5 minutes.

An immature Herring Gull, made a brief stop at 11.15.  Probably a second year bird, it seemed wary of the people moving about and quickly moved on.  The near adult, which is usually present on most of my visits, arrived at 11.36.  Like most of the other gulls, there was no sign of it last Sunday.

When I arrived this morning, 4 adult Mute Swans were present, which included a pair with two youngsters.  Another pair, along with their two young arrived from up-river at 09.35.  This was the pair with the aggressive female.  The number of adults increased to 8, when a further two birds arrived in from the Lough around 10am.  None of the 8 adults were ringed.

Mallard numbers, are at last approaching the normal total.  Around 40 birds, increased to around the 80 or 90 mark, by the time of my departure.  Many of these were checked for rings, but I'm still waiting to get my first one this winter.

The other birds recorded during today's visit were :- 11 Jackdaws, 1 Hooded Crow, 1 Magpie, a pair of Grey Wagtails, a pair of Pied Wagtails and a male Blackbird.  If memory serves me right, I think this is the first Blackbird, that I've spotted here, since I started coming to Antrim Marina.

Antrim KFC Outlet
Because   2AAV  was at the Marina today, I was not going to bother visiting it's other haunt at the Elim Church, on the Parkhall Housing Estate or call by the KFC outlet nearby.  Due to the problem with my car, I did not dare to travel anywhere else, so decided to check the KFC outlet on my way home.

I was ever so glad that I did this, as I got the Norwegian   JK35 , in a group of around 30 other Black-headed Gulls.  Despite checking the KFC car park on most weeks, I last recorded this gull here on the 13th November 2016.

My first ever sighting of   JK35 , was made on the 24th January 2016.  Over the following few weeks, the gull remained at the KFC outlet, with my last sighting of the winter being made on the 13th March 2016.  It was then re-sighted on three occasions in April 2016, back in Norway.  On the 7th August 2016, I recorded it back at Antrim.

It's absence since November, makes you wonder where it has been.  Could it be possible, that   JK35   is using Antrim as a staging post and winter's elsewhere.  Still quite a young bird, it will take another year or two, to establish it's migration patterns.

Black-headed Gull  -    JK35   -  KFC, Antrim Town  (15 Jan 2016)
(Ringed as a chick, on 18th June 2014, at Torvmyra, Norway)


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