Wednesday, 25 January 2017

On The Move...

With my car off the road, until later this week, I've been unable to get out and about.  My younger son Adrian, took me up to Antrim Marina in his car, so I was able to complete my weekly visit there.  My thanks to goes to Adrian.

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina (Sunday 22nd January 2017)       
A shorter than normal visit was made to Antrim Marina today.  Arriving around 09.30, we departed at 12.10, calling by the KFC outlet in Antrim before returning home.

Over the last few day's, we have experienced another short 'cold snap', with a few frosty nights.  Our visit to the Marina, saw milder conditions, cloudy and not too cold.  A light breeze was blowing in from the Lough, but overall the visit was quite pleasant.

80 to 100 Black-headed Gulls were already present on our arrival.  The numbers swelled to an estimated 220 gulls by 11am, thus making it a busy visit looking for rings.  As the gulls were coming and going, the turnover of individuals, may have been in the region of up to 300 birds.  The gulls were clearly very hungry and many soon crowded around people carrying bags of bread.

Having recorded 30 'colour-ringed' gulls here so far this winter,  22 of these were re-sighted during our visit.  The most interesting of these, was the third sighting of   2BRC .  Past records for this gull, suggests that it frequents the Marina more often as spring approaches.  It will be interesting to see if this trend continues over the next few weeks.  Prior to the turn of the year, sightings are quite rare.

In past weeks, I stated that I was only expecting one, possibly two more Black-headed Gulls, to arrive before the last Sunday in March - the finishing date of my fourth winter of 'Ring Watching' at Antrim Marina.

I'm only hopeful for an appearance of    2BRB , a gull which I believe was just passing through, at the time of ringing in February 2015.  The other gull is   2ADD , which winters at Carrickfergus and breeds here on Lough Neagh.  On completion of today's visit,   2ADD  is only a short distance away, having been spotted at the KFC outlet in Antrim - (read below).

Black-headed Gulls Present at Antrim Marina  (Sunday 22nd January 2017)
 2ABN   2AAF   2AAR   2AAD   2AAC   2AAT   2ABK   2BRC 
 2ABS   2AAN   2CJT   2ABF   2ADJ   2ABL   T35J   2AAH 
 2AAP   2BRA   2ACV   2AAK   2AAV   2ADV       

Sunday's Absentees
 2AAA   2ABA   2AAB   2AFD   2BRD   2ANS   2ALH   2CJR 

Black-headed Gull  -    2BRC   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim (22 Jan 2017)
(3rd Appearance at Antrim Marina this Winter)

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
As with the Black-headed Gulls, Common Gull numbers were also up today.  At one point, a total of 8 un-ringed adults were counted, though one particular bird with very dark 'wing butts', may well have been a second winter bird.  It was a rather stunning looking gull, but flew off before I could get any photos.

The 'metal-ringed' Common Gulls, (Finland)   ST177.028  and   EY64036 , were also recorded during my visit, thus taking the total of adults to at least 10.  This was my second sighting of the Finnish gull this winter, the first being made on the 2nd January 2017.

  EY64036 , arrived back at the Marina on the 4th September 2016, to begin it's 4th winter at the site, having initially arrived as a juvenile during the 2013/14 winter.  Today's sighting of it, is my 10th since it returned and was last sighted here on the 18th December.

A single Juvenile / 1st winter Common Gull, spotted at 09.40, only stayed for about five minutes.

Common Gull  -  Finland    ST177.028   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim (22 Jan 2017)
(Ringed as a fledged Juvenile, on the 6th August 1995, at Manninka, Finland)

Common Gull  -    EY64036   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (22 Jan 2017)
(Ringed as a chick, on the 20th June 2013, at Hunterston, Ayrshire, Scotland)

The Herring Gull, which has been present during most weeks, arrived just before 10.00am and remained throughout the remainder of my visit.  The last of it's immature feathering has just about gone now.  Not long before I departed, a second Herring Gull appeared, this one being a full adult.

Eight adult Mute Swans, along with 4 cygnets, were probably the same birds recorded last Sunday.  With so many Black-headed Gulls present, we missed the arrival of another pair of adults.  All 10 adults were successfully checked for rings, but no luck today.

Mallard numbers were fairly good, with a maximum of around 80 birds present between 10 and 11 o'clock.  Many were checked for rings, but I'm still waiting for my first this winter.

A juvenile Moorhen, represented the first showing of this species in a long time.  Still in it's brown plumage, it was probably a late youngster, having hatched in the autumn.  If memory serves me right, no Moorhens were recorded here last winter, but a pair of these birds were recorded throughout the 2013/14 and 2014/15 winters.

Kingfishers, are frequently heard, though rarely seen, as they pass the Marina.  Normally, I only record these birds, if they actually stop by.  Today, saw the best ever showing of Kingfishers here.  A pair 'buzzed' around for a short time and even showed signs of courtship.

Pair of Kingfishers  -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (22 Jan 2017)

The only other species sighted on my visit, were a single Hooded Crow, 9 Jackdaws and a pair of Pied Wagtails.

Antrim KFC Car Park
As   2AAV  was at the Marina, I did not have visit the Elim Church, in the Parkhall Housing Estate.  I did decide to visit the car park at the Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet.  I wanted to check to see if the Norwegian   JK35   was present, seeing as it had re-appeared last Sunday.

It was not to be seen among the 30'ish BHGs and single juvenile Common Gull, but I got a surprise, when I spotted an 'Orange Darvic'.  I told my son, this was probably   2ADD  and this was soon confirmed, with the use of binoculars.

  2ADD , winters at Carrickfergus on the east County Antrim coast.  Towards the end of the 2015/16 winter, I came across   2ADD  at the KFC car park during my (then) infrequent visits there.  It dawned on me, that   2ADD  was using the car park as a staging point on it's way to Antrim Marina for the breeding season.    2ADD  was recorded for several weeks at KFC, the last sighting being on the 6th March 2016.

The following Sunday, (13th March), it returned to the Marina and remained there until the 15th July.  On the 2nd August, I got   2ADD  back at the KFC outlet, obviously making it's move back to Carrickfergus where Suzanne Belshaw recorded it at the harbour there on the 21st August.

With the re-appearance of   JK35  last Sunday, and now   2ADD , it is obvious that some Black-headed Gulls have made their decisions to make a move towards their breeding grounds.  Perhaps, the mild weather throughout this winter, may be a contributing factor.  

Black-headed Gull  -    2ADD   -  KFC, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (22 Jan 2017)

PS.  Adam McClure, emailed an updated file for   2ADD .  Adam himself, spotted the gull at Carrickfergus on the 19th January.  This clearly shows, that   2ADD's  movement to Antrim is recent.


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