Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Footless Gulls...

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina (Sunday 19th February 2017)       
Another mild week weather-wise, led up to today's visit to Antrim Marina.  There was heavy cloud cover throughout my visit, which led to a few light showers of drizzle.  A fairly cool breeze, blowing in from the Lough, practically died out by the time of my departure at the earlier time of 12.30.

27 Black-headed Gulls, were already perched when I arrived, and numbers peaked at around 120 birds by 11am.  It was a poor day for re-sighting 'colour-ringed' gulls from Adam's study, with just elevan birds recorded.  I am now convinced that some gulls have now departed to their breeding sites, which would include the Lithuanian (White) T35J.

Another 'colour-ringed' BHG, that I've overlooked this winter, is   2AFD , a gull which we know breeds in Latvia.  I correctly predicted the date of it's return to Antrim Marina, this winter (13th November 2016), but it has only been recorded once since (18th December).  Where or what has happened to it over the last few weeks is unknown, but it is due to depart from the area, as it's last sighting during the 2015/16 winter, was made on the 6th March.  Another re-sighting before it departs, would be great, as then it would confirm it's presence in the Antrim area.

  2AAR  and   2ACV , were both recorded during my visit today.    2AAR  is known to breed in Poland, while   2ACV  had been spotted at Leighton Moss, in Lancashire, England, during the 2016 breeding season.

The Icelanic   571487 , was also present today.  Neville McKee emailed me to report his sighting of it on Friday 17th February.  It appears that this gull, is remaining close to the Marina, before it departs for Iceland.  Perhaps, it is taking advantage of the easy feeds of bread, which will help build it's energy for the journey north.

Black-headed Gulls Re-Sighted on Sunday 19th February 2017
 2CJT   2BRA   2AAR   2AAC   2ADJ   2AAV 
 2ABS   2AAK   2AAT   2ACV   2ABA    

Sunday's Absentees
 T35J   2AAP   2AAA   2AAH   2ABN   2AAD   2ABK 
 2AAB   2AAF   2AAN   2ABL   2ABF   2ADV   2AFD 
 2BRC   2BRD   2ANS   2ALH   2CJR       
(Note:-    2ALH  was Known to be Wintering at Ward Park, County Down)

Black-headed Gull  -    2ABA   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (19 Feb 2017)
 (Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 28th December 2012, at Antrim Marina)
(Non Resident - Breeding Site is Unknown)

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
The regular Herring Gull, was later arriving this morning.  Appearing at 11.05, it stayed for about 15 minutes, before departing for the Lough.  The only Common Gull, was spotted at 12.22, which flew a couple of circuits above the Marina and then headed back out to the Lough as well.

Mute Swan numbers were the best that I've seen here in a long time.  10 adults and 4 cygnets, were already present on my arrival this morning.  A further 7 adults, added to the total, with 4 arriving at 10.10, 2 at 11.55 and a single at 12.15.  All of them swam in from the Lough.  At one stage, 12 of the adults were out of the water, but no rings were seen on any of them.

Mallard numbers, were very poor, with just 8 birds when I arrived.  Numbers quickly increased soon after, but the overall total never surpassed the 50 mark.  There was no sign of the 'metal-ringed' drake, which was present during my previous two visits.

Other birds spotted during my visit were 9 Jackdaws, 1 Hooded Crow, 1 Rook, the juvenile Moorhen, a female Grey Wagtail, a pair of Pied Wagtails and two male Chaffinches.  I found the behaviour of the Hooded Crow interesting.  Present throughout my visit, around 11.00, it started making a noise like a low pitched fog-horn.  It was still making the noise, when I ended my visit at 12.30.

Antrim KFC Outlet
With   2AAV , putting in an appearance at the Marina this morning, I did not have to look for it at the Parkhall Housing Estate.   I drove to the KFC outlet to check on the gulls there.  About 40 BHGs were present and   2ADD  was quick to arrive by my car.  Throwing out some bread, the Norwegian   JK35 , soon arrived as well.  I scanned the other gulls with my binoculars, but no more rings.

Black-headed Gulls  -    2ADD   &  Norwegian    JK35   -  Antrim Town KFC Outlet  (19 Feb 2017)


      Ringing Details Received       

Common Gull  -    2H70 
I spotted this Common Gull on the beach at Kinnegar, Holywood, Co. Down, on the 12 February 2017.  Numbers of this species have been increasing here over recent visits, a sure sign that they are about to move towards their breeding sites.

The code on this 'colour-ring' was not easy to obtain, as the gull was quite a distance from me.  Carefully walking onto the beach, without raising the gulls, my camera was just able to capture the number -   2H70 .

This highlights the use of 'colour-rings', to aid re-sightings.  Two other Common Gulls, had also been spotted with 'metals', but there was no chance of reading the numbers on these.

  2H70 , was ringed as an unsexed adult, on the 26th August 2016, on the Ythan Estuary, Newburgh, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.  The distance from Newburgh to Kinnegar, is 383 kms / 238 miles, in a south-west direction.  Despite, being recently rung, there should be more sightings made in the future and perhaps I'll spot it again here next spring.  

Ythan Estuary, Newburgh, Scotland to Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, Co. Down


      Friday 17th February 2017       
I called into my local park today, to check up on the juvenile Black-headed Gull   2AXV .  As some of these gulls are known to be on the move towards their breeding sites, there is always the possibilty of finding new rings.

While entering the park, the first thing that caught my attention, were three large gulls on the roof of the pavillion.  Two of them were Herring Gulls and the other was a Lesser Black-backed Gull, which made my thoughts 'race'.  Could this be the gull which I spotted here, in March of the two previous years.  I quickly made my way through the pavillion and out onto the outside decking for a better view.

Looking up, I could see that the Lesser Black-back, was 'metal-ringed'.  A couple of photos later, I had the end three digits -   112 .  I was delighted, this was the same gull -   GC27112 .  At this point, it flew off.  I only had to wait a short time, before it returned again.  Another couple of photos were taken and this time I had captured the start of the number -   GC271 .

Ringed as a chick on the 1st July 2006, it is now 10 years, 7 months and 16 days, since being ringed.  I first spotted this gull on the 14th March 2015 and obtained the whole ring number on the 17th. (Blog).  I had hoped it would breed in the area, but her and her mate disappeared soon after.  She returned along with her partner on the 5th March 2016 (Blog) and I never saw her again until today.  This time, she has arrived on her own and far earlier than in the previous two years.  I'll check in again soon, to see if her mate re-appears.

I emailed Iain Livingstone of the Clyde Ringing Group in Scotland, to inform him of the re-sighting.  Iain was glad to hear the news and confirmed that no other sightings had been reported from any other location since the gull was ringed, other than mine.  It would be fantastic, if the ring could be read by someone somewhere.  If the gull had been 'colour-ringed', there would have been a greater chance of sightings elsewhere by now.

Although her summer destination is unknown, at least I know to expect her return to The Peoples Park in Ballymena, each spring.  My thanks to Iain for his reply.

Lesser Black-backed Gull  -    GC27112   -  The Peoples Park, Ballymena, Co. Antrim  (17 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as a chick, on the 1st July 2006, at Horse Island Nature Reserve, Ayrshire, Scotland)

Having sorted the Lesser Black-backed Gull, my attention went back onto the Black-headed's.  Throwing bread onto the shingle area beside the lake, around fifty of the hundred or so BHGs present, came 'bombing' in.  The only ringed bird spotted was that of   2AXV , my eigth sighting, since I first recorded it here on the 23rd October 2016.

Juvenile Black-headed Gull  -    2AXV   -  The Peoples Park, Ballymena, Co. Antrim  (17 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as a chick, on the 7th June 2016, at Marsh Lane Nature Reserve, nr Coventry, England)


      Saturday 18th February 2017       
Today, I headed back to County Down, with Common Gulls at Millisle being my main priority.  As the tide was coming in when I arrived on the Ards Peninsular, I decided to travel my usual route in reverse.

At Kircubbin, no rings were spotted on the numerous Herring, Common and Black-headed Gulls.  The best showing ever of Oystercatchers here, produced nothing either.

At Portaferry, one 'metal-ringed' Sandwich Tern was spotted standing in a group of ten of these birds at the Marina, which has no public access.  Luring the Black-headed Gulls with bread, there was no sign of the 'metal-ringed' gull seen on my last visit here.

The beach at Cloughey, had the best number of gulls that I've ever seen here.  Mostly Black-headed's, with smaller numbers of Common and a handful of Great Black-backed's, I was disappointed not to spot a single 'metal-ringed' gull.

There are always good numbers of Herring Gulls to be found at Portavogie Harbour, plus a smaller number of Great Black-backed Gulls and the odd Black-headed Gull.  On today's visit, I spotted a 'metal-ringed' Herring Gull, which was ringed on it's left leg.  I spent ages trying to coax it off a warehouse rooftop.  Eventually, it landed to join in with other gulls which were lured by bread being thrown out from the window of the car.

I took a photo of the Herring Gull, but noticed that it's 'ring-butt' was facing me and I couldn't read any details.  I needed the gull to move about, but a van arrived into the car park, raising all the gulls.  Although many returned for the bread, my 'ringed' gull did'nt.

On returning home, I checked the photo of an immature Herring Gull, which I spotted here on the 27th February 2016.  Also ringed on the left leg, could today's sighting be of the same bird?  Despite several visits to the harbour over the winter, is it co-incidence that the sighting dates are similar?

I was only able to obtain a 'partial' number on last year's gull -   GJ2588* , but I'll have to try again fairly soon to get the number on today's sighting.  Far too often, people are a problem, when it comes to reading rings.

'Metal-ringed' Herring Gull  -  Portavogie Harbour, Co. Down  (18 Feb 2017)

No rings were spotted at Ballywalter either, not even my oldest Black-headed Gull, could be located.

Although it is only two weeks since my previous visit to Millisle, I had suspected, by the build up in the number of Common Gulls at Kinnegar, they seem to be on the move towards their breeding sites.  With this in mind, I thought that this might also be the case here at Millisle.  As Millisle, is known to be a 'hotspot' for Common Gulls, there was the possibilty to complete a couple of out-standing 'partials' on 'metal-ringed' birds.

Today, did'nt disappoint in a way, but in another way it did.  A single 'colour-ringed' Common Gull and eight with 'metal-rings' were present.  As always, the code on the 'colour-ring' was easily sorted, this one being -   2BBC .

I spent the best part of two hours, trying to obtain ring numbers.  This was easily the worst visit that I've made here.  Trying to lure the gulls with bread, I have never seen so many people out walking their dogs.  Each time the gulls flew off, I had to pick out another 'metal', if I hadn't enough photos of the previous bird.  In the end, I was lucky to get enough photos for a few of the gulls.

Common Gull  -    2BBC   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (18 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as a chick, on the 23rd June 2009, at The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

Of the eight 'metals', I obtained numbers on four of them.  The first, was the gull whose partial number was completed two weeks ago -   EG55450 .  The gull is easily identified, as it cannot stand flat on it's right foot.  Today, I was able to get a photo from behind this gull, which clearly shows it's problematic foot.

Of the remaining three 'metals', one turned out to be my third sighting of   ET03580 .  I first recorded this one on the 3rd December 2016, then again on the 31st December.  During corresspondence with the British Trust for Ornithology, I enquired about the delay in receiving this gulls ringing details.  Apparently, the BTO has sent two notifications to the ringer, asking for the details, but the ringer has failed to respond.  I find this a bit annoying, as I reckon the gull could be one of the oldest on my records.

The other two gulls, happened to be new sightings, but I ended up with 'partial' ring numbers on both birds - two more to add to the list.  Ah-well, you can't win them all.

Common Gull  -    ET03580   -  Millisle, Co. Down (18 Feb 2017)
(Waiting on Ringing Details)

The Problematic Right Foot of Common Gull  -    EG55450   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (18 Feb 2017)

Common Gull  -    E**5164   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (18 Feb 2017)
(Partial Number on New Sighting)

Common Gull  -    E*47166   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (18 Feb 2017)
(Partial Number on New Sighting)

Footless Gulls
Also today, I was presented with a slight dilemma.  A Common Gull landed, which had no feet.  The problem with this sighting, was the gull had no 'metal-ring' either.  During my visit two weeks ago, I mentioned that I had re-sighted 'Stumps', a 'metal-ringed' gull with no feet, on which I had only obtained a 'partial' ring number.  However, the gull would not land, but I presumed it was 'Stumps' anyway.

With today's sighting, I thought to myself, that the ring had slipped off 'Stumps' leg.  I took a few photos anyway and after returning home, I compared these, with those that I had taken of 'Stumps'.  I soon realised, that these were two entirely different gulls.  I find it amazing, that two 'footless' Common Gulls, have now been recorded at the same site and my sighting two weeks ago, could have been, of either bird.

Photos at the Top are of 'Stumps' and Those Below are of Today's Sighting
(Note:-  Today's Gull cannot Stand on it's Stumps)

Two 'ringed' Herring Gulls, were also spotted at Millisle, during my visit there.  The first was that of the ever present   GA00153 .  The second bird, caught me completly by surprise.  I was taking photos of a Common Gull, when it suddenly landed on the wall in front of me.  Swinging the camera around to take photos, it flew off again and headed out to sea.  I wasn't even sure, whether I had captured the ring number or not.

On checking the only photo, I was relieved to find that I had the code on a 'Darvic-ring', -   1X:W .  I knew, just by looking at the splendid head of this Herring Gull, that this was a new sighting for me, of a bird from the study being carried out on the Copeland Islands, situated 8 kms to the north of Millisle.  I have emailed Adam McClure, who is the ringing co-ordinator for the study and now await it's history.

Herring Gull  -    GA00153   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (18 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 22nd June 2005, at The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

Herring Gull  -    1X:W   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (18 Feb 2017)
(Awaiting the Ringing Details)


      Sunday 19th February 2017       
On completing my weekly visit to Antrim, I drove on down to the bottem end of Lough Neagh, visiting Kinnego Marina and Lurgan Park.  My main point of interest, was to see if the Latvian-rung Black-headed Gull -   2BPP , was still present at Kinnego.  I prefer to do these sites at least once a month during the winter, but problems with my car, meant I was behind in my planned outings.

Lurgan Park, has this winter, produced numerous 'ringed' Black-headed Gulls.  Early on, a youngster -   2CCH , from Adam McClure's Northern Ireland Study, was present for several weeks, having been recorded by Suzanne Belshaw.  Suzanne, also spotted an Icelandic-rung BHG, which we are pretty sure, is a bird that is known to 'winter' at Victoria Park, in Belfast.

Suzanne, recorded a 'partial' number on this gull (  53794* ), on the 8th September 2016 and I confirmed it's return (  537949 ), to Victoria Park on the 25th December 2016.

The Norwegian (White) J4P4, was also recorded at Lurgan Park this winter, by Suzanne.  I looked for this gull on a number of occasions in the winter of 2015/2016, but failed to find it.  It was first recorded here in November 2013 by Stephen Hewitt, who re-sighted it again in January 2015 and was then spotted in March 2015, by Kevin Kirkham-Brown.

Another two Black-headed Gulls, recorded by Suzanne this winter, were new sightings at Lurgan Park.    T58T , from Poland, was ringed as an adult in July 2016 and a recent sighting -   2F05 , was ringed at Preston Docks, Lancashire, England (waiting on more details).

Two 'metal-ringed' BHG's that I recorded last winter, have also re-appeared this winter.    EW57424 , was ringed as a chick at Kingsbury Water Park, in Warwickshire, England and has been re-sighted on a couple of occasions.  The second gull, has given us problems, as both Suzanne and myself, have failed to complete a 'partial' number -   EN290** .

The only one of these to be spotted on my visit to the park today, was the Polish   T58T .

Black-headed Gull  -  Poland    T58T   -  Lugan Park, Co. Armagh  (19 Feb 2017)

Finishing at Kinnego Marina, it appeared that the gulls there were 'breaded out', as they showed little interest in being lured.  My problem here, was that the gulls were resting on a jetty within the grounds of Kinnego Boat Yard.  The area is private and out of bounds, except for boat owners.

I scoped the gulls from a nearby concrete jetty and spotted four 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls from Adam McClure's Study.  These included the Latvian-rung -   T10932 .  Adam caught this gull on the 29th October 2014 and fitted a 'colour-ring'   2BPP , to it.

Two 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, were also spotted, but these were too far away to read the numbers.

Black-headed Gull  -    2BPN   -  Kinnego Marina, Co. Armagh  (17 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as an adult female, on the 29th October 2014, at Kinnego Marina)

Black-headed Gull  -  Latvia    T10932   /    2BPP   -  Kinnego Marina, Co. Armagh  (19 Feb 2017)
(Metal-ringed as a chick, on the 13th June 2005, at Masenu Lake, Riga, Latvia)

Black-headed Gull  -    2BPS   -  Kinnego Marina, Co. Armagh  (19 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as an adult female, on the 31st October 2014, at Kinnego Marina)

Black-headed Gull  -    2BPT   -  Kinnego Marina, Co. Armagh  (19 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as an adult female, on the 31st October 2014, at Kinnego Marina)


Monday, 13 February 2017

A 2nd Norwegian Common Gull...

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina (Sunday 12th February 2017)       
Another quite mild week, led up to today's visit at Antrim Marina.  It remained dry, barring a light shower of hail-stones, although there was heavy cloud cover.  It was however, bitterly cold, with a strong east/south-east wind blowing.  The wind gradually became stronger as the day wore on.

Not a lot of activity with the gulls today, with a maximum of around 80 Black-headed Gulls at any one time.  It's is hard to judge what the gulls are doing, with limited numbers present.  (White) T35J, though not present these last two weeks, is due to depart on it's return to Lithuania.

I have also noticed the absence of   2ADV , over the last couple of weeks.  It's final winter sightings over the last three years were :- 2nd February 2014, 15th February 2015 and 31st January 2016.  Going by these dates, I reckon   2ADV  has moved on.  So far, it's breeding destination is unknown.

  2AAR , is still present, but it is known to stay at the Marina until early or mid-March, before returning to Poland.  Another gull, which has been absent for a few weeks now is   2ANS .  I had considered this gull to be a resident.  Having been caught and ringed as a juvenile here, during the 2015/16 winter, it was present throughout the summer.  For some reason, it has not been re-sighted since Christmas Day.

  2ADD , is still parked at the Antrim outlet of KFC, though I do not expect him to return to the Marina until early March.  I am also hoping that   2ALH  returns to breed for a second year running out on the Lough.  If all goes well, I also hope to see the return of   EG55380 , at the end of February or the beginning of March

Black-headed Gulls Re-Sighted on Sunday 12th February 2017
 2CJT   2AAT   2ACV   2AAA   2BRA   2ABF   2ABK 
 2AAP   2AAD   2ABN   2AAR   2ABS   2ADJ   2AAH 

Sunday's Absentees
 T35J   2AAK   2AAC   2ABA   2AAB   2AAF   2AAN   2ABL 
 2AAV   2ADV   2AFD   2BRC   2BRD   2ANS   2ALH   2CJR 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
7 adult Mute Swans, along with 2 cygnets, were already present when I arrived this morning.  At 09.50, I noticed that one bird, having just the water, was ringed.  Grabbing the camera, I quickly got the number -   W34157 .  The last time I saw this bird was on the 6th March last year.  He is quite a large male, but I could not tell if he was paired to any of the females present.  Another pair of adults swam in from the Lough at 10.45.  7 of the 9 adults were checked for rings, but the latter two arrivals remained on the river.

Mute Swan  -    W34157   (Upside-down Ring)  -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (12 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 17th March 2014, at Antrim Marina)

20 Mallards, were counted on my arrival and numbers quickly increased to 58 birds by 09.50.  After this, the overall total remained fairly static, with around 60 ducks present when I departed at 1pm.  The drake -   5MN 1156 , having been away all winter, was spotted for the 2nd week running.

There was no sign of Common Gulls until 11.17, when 3 adults arrived, followed by a juvenile a couple of minutes later.  They only remained for a short time.  Single birds would re-appear for a few minutes after this, but there was no sign of the 'metal-ringed' gulls from Finland or Scotland.

Around 10am, the usual Herring Gull arrived.  This near adult, has been present for most of the winter.  At 12.17, a full adult Herring Gull arrived, staying with the other bird through to my departure.

Other birds recorded during my visit, were 16 Jackdaws, the juvenile Moorhen (must get a photo, if I can mind), a pair of Pied Wagtails and a female Grey Wagtail.

Elim Church, Parkhall, Antrim & Antrim KFC
Having completed my weekly visit to Antrim Marina, I drove across Antrim Town, to check on the gulls at the Parkhall Housing Estate and at the car park of the nearby KFC outlet.  Very few gulls were in the Parkhall area, where BHG   2AAV , can sometimes be found at the Elim Church, but not today.

It was a different story at the KFC outlet, where 50 to 60 BHGs were resting in the car park.  Less than half of these, were attracted to the lure of bread.    2ADD  appeared straight away, as if he knew my car and the feeding routine.  Last spring,   2ADD  remained at the KFC outlet until the 2nd week of March, before completing his journey from Carrickfergus to Antrim Marina, to breed.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ADD   -  KFC, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (12 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 29th November 2013, at Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim)

The Norwegian BHG -   JK35 , appeared a minute or two later.  Today's is my 6th sighting of this gull, having arrived back for a second winter running, on the 7th August 2016.  I first came across this one in January last year.  It remained in the area until 13th March 2016 and was then spotted back in Norway on the 8th April 2016.  

Black-headed Gull  -    JK35   -  KFC, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (12 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as a chick, on the 18 June 2014, at Vassøy Island, Norway)

I carefully checked the rest of the Black-headed Gulls for 'metal rings'.  On the 16th February last year, I spotted an Icelandic BHG with a 'metal', but only got a partial number, before it flew off -   53794* .  I'm hoping that this gull might appear again here this spring.


      Ringing Details Received       
On Saturday 4th February, I drove to County Down looking for 'ringed' birds.  At Donaghadee, I recorded a new Herring Gull, a new Black-headed Gull and managed to complete a 'partial' number on a Black-headed Gull, first spotted there on the 5th March 2016.  Moving on to Millisle, I also completed the 'ring' number for a Common Gull, recorded on the 23rd January 2016.  The ringing details have arrived for all four birds.

Herring Gull  -    1K:W 
Ringed as part of a new Herring Gull study on the nearby Copeland Islands,   1K:W , was ringed as an unsexed adult, on the 6th May 2015.  The only previous sighting of this gull, was made on the 31st August 2015, here at Donaghadee, by Suzanne Belshaw.  The Copelands are situated just 2 kms north of the town.  Duration - 1 year, 8 months and 29 days, up to my sighting on the 4th February 2017.  My thanks to Adam McClure, for the details.

Black-headed Gull  -    EG55486 
My only previous sighting of this gull, was made on the 5th March 2016.  On that occasion, I only managed to obtain a 'partial' number on an upside-down ring, missing out on the first letter and the third digit.  As it was a BTO ring, I knew the missing letter would be an '  E ', so the partial number read -   EG55*86 .

Although I have visited Donaghadee on a couple of occasions this winter, there was no sign of the gull, but I struck lucky when I spotted it along with two other 'ringed' BHGs, lured to a feed of bread.  Taking lots of photos of the ring, I managed to get the missing number - ' 4 ', on an upside-down ring.

  EG55486 , was ringed as a chick, on the 10th June 2006, on the nearby Copeland Islands.  It is now the 8th oldest BHG on my records, the duration being 10 years, 7 months and 25 days, since being ringed.

Black-headed Gull  -    EY99583 
  EY99583 , was one of the three BHGs, lured to a feed of bread at Donaghadee.  The gull was very shy and nervous and now that I have it's ringing details, I can see why.  It's not from Northern Ireland and may just have been passing through, linking up with the other Black-headed Gulls.

  EY99583 , was ringed as a chick, on the 26th June 2015, at 70 Acres Lake, Cheshunt, Essex, England.  Paul Roper from the Thames Gull Group, was the ringer and I was in contact with him not so long ago, concerning another Black-headed Gull -   2PAC , at Carnlough, in County Antrim.  The distance from Cheshunt to Donaghadee, is 493 kms / 306 miles in a north-west direction.

I have since received an email from Paul, thanking me on the sighting, adding a link to the gull on their website (Link).  Thanks Paul.

Common Gull  -    EG55450 
Moving on from Donaghadee, my next stop was at Millisle, where I fell in with a Common Gull, which I spotted on the 23rd January 2016.  It was one of several Common Gulls recorded here, where I've only been able to obtain 'partial' numbers, on their 'metal-rings'.  I have since, completed the numbers on a couple of these, but there are still a couple outstanding.

Saturday's gull was one of those outstanding birds.  Despite getting   EG55*** , on an upside-down ring, I saved the sighting, as I knew how to distinguish this gull.  Although the missing three digits could be any of 999 numbers, I knew that I could identify the gull again, as it was unable to stand flat on it's right foot (see photos in my previous post).

Having taken lots of photos, this time I had another partial number and was missing the first digit of the five number code -    EG*5450 .  I was convinced that this partial number, coupled with the previous partial and the gull's problem foot, added up to a complete number and I reported my sighting to the BTO.

  EG55450 , was ringed as a chick, on the 22nd June 2005, on the Copeland Islands, situated 8 kms north of Millisle.  It becomes the 5th oldest Common Gull on my records.  The duration since being ringed, till my sighting on 4th February 2017, is now 11 years, 7 months and 13 days.

I would imagine, all three of the above 'metal-ringed' gulls, are first sightings.  It is not easy, trying to complete codes on these 'metals', but slowly and surely, I'm getting results.  Many of these birds would have gone through their lives unrecorded, but at least my efforts will make a few ringers happy.


      Saturday 11th February 2017       
Today, I headed off to search for geese and swans, with Inch in County Donegal being my first stop and then on the way back home, I'd visit the Myroe Levels, in County Londonderry.  I couldn't get away until the early afternoon, so my time was limited.

Inch Levels and Lake, County Donegal
Small flocks of both Whooper Swans and Greylag Geese, were well scattered around the fields in the vicinity of the lake, at Inch Island.  Scoping as many birds as possible, the legs on most of the Whooper's were not visible due to the height of the grass.  Those that I could see, produced nothing in the way of rings.  I'm still waiting to find my first 'ringed' Whooper.

With the geese, I was looking for 'Neck Collars'.  Of all the birds checked, two were found in a flock of about 90 Greylags.  The first spotted, was new to me, being   B|TA .  The other goose was   BSS , this being my second sighting of this one.  My first sighting was made in foggy conditions, on the 26th November 2016 (Blog).

  B|TA  is from a new Study in the Republic of Ireland, whilst   BSS  originates from Scotland.  The ringing and re-sighting details of   BSS , can be seen via my Blog entry above.

At present, I am still waiting on the ringing details for other Greylag Geese, which were new sightings, also on the 26th November 2016.  The organisers of the Irish Study, are extremely slow in sending out ringing data.  I have decided to report today's new sighting -   B|TA , to the British Trust for Ornithology.  Perhaps, I'll get something back in far less time.

There was surprisingly few swans and geese on the lake itself.  The lake was actually very 'choppy' due to a very strong wind.  Perhaps the birds have flown off to somewhere more sheltered.  The small island, was virtually deserted, barring a few Lapwings.

Greylag Goose  -    B|TA   -  Inch Levels, Co. Donegal, R. of Ireland  (11 Feb 2017)
(Waiting on Ringing Details)

Greylag Goose  -    BSS   -  Inch Levels, Co. Donegal, R. of Ireland  (11 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 6th November, at Loch Eye, Ross-shire, Scotland)

Myroe Levels, County Londonderry
A good sized flock of around 600 Brent Geese were to be found on the levels at Myroe.  Unfortunately, they were feeding on grass in an area where they are not normally found.  Every now and again, the flock would rise and fly out onto the sea of Lough Foyle.  Each time they returned, they kept landing in the same area to feed.  The problem was, they were too far away to scope.  I sat in my car for over two hours, hoping they would alight somewhere more convenient, but it didn't happen.


      Sunday 12th February 2017       
Having completed my visit to Antrim, I travelled down to Belfast.  My aim, was to see if I could re-sight the Common Gull at Whitehouse Lagoon, which I spotted there last Sunday.  This bird had a 'Green Darvic', and I suspected that it originated in Norway.  The gull was far too far out on the mudflats, to get the code on the ring.  While I was there, folk scared off all the birds, flying a drone over the Lagoon.  I finished off, by making a visit to the Whiteabbey Shoreline.

Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, County Down
Knowing the tide was just on it's way out, I went to the beach at Kinnegar first, as Whitehouse Lagoon would still be flooded.  On my previous visit to Kinnegar, I had noticed that there was a considerable increase in the number of Common Gulls present.

Parking the car, overlooking the beach, I was surprised at the number of gulls and waders, which between them, easily exceeded 1,000 birds altogether.  I had a job on my hands, scoping through that lot.  Black-headed Gulls (300-400), Common Gulls (100-150) and Oystercatchers (e150), were the most numerous, with other gull species and various species of waders making up the total.

I knew that there had to be 'rings' amongst that lot.  After a long time searching through these, they only rings spotted were on Common Gulls - 2 'metals' and 1 'coloured'.  'Metals', are of no use here due to the distance between me and the birds.  I even had trouble in obtaining the 'code' on the 'Darvic'.

I couldn't get anything on the 'coloured-ring', taking photos from the car.  I then had to walk out onto the beach very carefully, to cut the distance down.  Trying not to frighten the gulls away, I did eventually manage to capture the code -   2H70 .  Another new sighting, I reckon it was ringed in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, by the Grampian Ringing Group.  I have now reported it online to the BTO.

Common Gull  -    2H70   -  Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, Co. Down  (12 Feb 2017)
(Waiting on Ringing Details)

Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast
I could not have timed my arrival at Whitehouse Lagoon, any better.  A workable area of the mudflats, were now exposed by the receding tide.  Lots of gulls were arriving to feed and I soon got to work, looking for my suspected Norwegian Common Gull.  It did not take long to discover my target bird was here.

Standing with it's head tucked into it's back, I took numerous photos and confirmed the code   JA19 .  My Common Gull was from Norway, as their 'colour-rings' on small gulls begin with the letter 'J'.

Returning home, I entered my finding details onto the 'live' Norwegian Ringing Website and soon had it's life history.    JA19   was captured in a baited trap and ringed as an unsexed adult, on the 30th June 2014, at Lake Lillevatnet, near the town of Ålesund on the west coast of Norway.

It was spotted three times the following month within 1 km of the ringing site, with no further sightings until now.  The distance was given as 1,120 kms / 696 miles from Ålesund to Whitehouse Lagoon and the duration is 2 years, 7 months and 13 days.  I was delighted to get this gull, after the problems last Sunday, this being my first 'colour-ringed' Common Gull from outside of the British Isles.

  JA19 , is the second Norwegian Common Gull, that I've sighted this winter.  I recorded a 'metal-ringed' juvenile -   5184080 , at Antrim Marina, on the 28th November 2016 (Blog).

Common Gull  -    JA19   -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Co. Antrim  (12 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as an Unsexed Adult, on the 30th June 2014, at Lake Lillevatnet, Ålesund, Norway)

With the tide fast receding and my Common Gull sorted, I started scoping through the gulls and waders again.  I soon spotted the now familiar Oystercatcher from Iceland - GW-GfN, ringed as a breeding adult, on the 5th June 2015.  This bird returned to Whitehouse Lagoon in August 2016, for the second winter running, having been spotted back in Iceland, in late March 2016.

The final 'ringed' bird to be spotted, was a juvenile Black-headed Gull from Adam's Northern Ireland Study.  Although the young gull was a long way from me, the code on the ring appears to be   2CJN .  I have emailed a photo of the gull to Adam to see if he will accept the sighting.

Juvenile Black-headed Gull  -    2CJN   -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Co. Antrim  (12 Feb 2017)
(Waiting on Confirmation from Adam McClure)

Whiteabbey Shoreline
At the last minute, with the light fading fast, mainly due to the dense cloud cover, I decided to drive up the road to the Whiteabbey Shore.  This was a real waste of time.  The wind was now so strong, it was blowing the telescope about and I couldn't keep it still enough to view out of it.

I did spot a Common Gull with a 'Blue Darvic'.  Even taking photos with the camera, was near on, impossible.  I was able to make out a blurry image of   2AIP , the gull I spotted here last Sunday.  At this point, I called it, a day, and went home.


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Partials Solved...

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina (Sunday 5th February 2017)       
We have had a mixed week weather-wise, with some calm days, while other's were wet and windy.  Last night started frosty, but I got up this morning to foggy conditions.  At Antrim Marina, the fog persisted throughout my visit, but was thin enough that I could still read rings.

Last Sunday, I ended my visit early, as the gulls were not landing and frustration got the better of me.  No problems today, except for a fifteen minute period, while a canoeist prepared and launched his craft.  When I arrived at 9.15 this morning, 64 Black-headed's and 1 Common Gull were already present.  From around 11am, BHG numbers easily topped the 200 mark.

Over the course of the winter, I have recorded 30 'colour-ringed' BHGs here and 20 of them were re-sighted today.  Towards the end of the month,   2ADD  should return.  At present   2ADD , has 'parked' himself at the Antrim outlet of Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is almost two miles away from the Marina.

This gull is known to spend the winter at Carrickfergus, on the east coast of County Antrim.  I discovered last year, that he stops for a few weeks at KFC, before finally completing his 'long & arduous' journey to breed on Lough Neagh.  After ending today's visit to the Marina, I drove up to the KFC outlet and quickly spotted   2ADD  in the car park there.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ADD   -  KFC, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (05 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as an adult male, on the 29th November 2013, at Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim)

Yesterday, I went looking for   2ALH , at Ward Park in Bangor, County Down.    2ALH , ended up being on my winter list, as she did not leave Antrim Marina until September, long after the breeding season had finished.  Knowing she winters in either Ballyholme or Bangor, I went looking for her in December and got her at Ward Park.    2ALH , was not present yesterday, but gull numbers there, were far lower than normal.

The last week of February or the first week of March, should see the return of a Black-headed Gull with a 'metal-ring'.    EG55380  (upside-down ring), is the 6th oldest of this species on my records, ringed as a chick in 2005.  It appears that this gull stops by the Marina, prior to the beginning of the breeding season.  I've recorded it in the early spring, over the last two years, but it was not spotted at the Marina last summer, when a concentrated effort was made to establish which of the 'ringed' BHGs were actually resident in the area.

Today, I also recorded the Icelandic BHG -   571487 , which arrived around 11.55.  This is my 4th sighting of the gull this winter, having returned on the 6th November 2016.    571487 , is the 2nd oldest BHG on my records, having been ringed as a chick in 2003.  This is the fourth winter running, that I have recorded it here.

Black-headed Gull  -  Iceland    571487   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (05 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as a chick, on the 19th June 2003, near Reykjavik, Iceland)

The Black-headed Gull, which I call 'One-Leg', made her arrival known to me at 11.23 this morning.  She got her usual feed of bread from my hand and came back looking for 'seconds', shortly before my departure at 1pm.

Black-headed Gull Recorded on Sunday 5th February 2017
 2AAF   2CJT   2ACV   2AAA   2ABN   2AAH   2AAC   2AAR   2AAT   2AAB 
 2BRA   2AAD   2ABF   2AAP   2AAV   2ADJ   2ABK   2ABS   2AAK   2ABA 

Sunday's Absentees
 T35J   2AAN   2ABL   2ADV   2AFD   2BRC   2BRD   2ANS   2ALH   2CJR 
(Note:-   2ALH  is known to winter in County Down)

Black-headed Gull  -    2AAB   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (05 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 11th December 2012, at Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim)

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
A single adult Common Gull, was already present when I arrived this morning.  The maximum number of 6 adults, were recorded at 12.30.  A single juvenile was spotted at 11.09 and presumably this was the same youngster which remained until my departure.  There was no sign of the 'metal-ringed' Common Gulls, from Scotland and Finland.

The Herring Gull, which has been present on most of my winter visits, arrived at 10.06.  It was joined for a short while by another immature bird at 10.30, this one looked as if it had hatched during the 2015 summer.

A Lesser Black-backed Gull, appeared at 12.39.  The species is rarely recorded here in the winter now, unlike in previous years, where visiting birds were deemed to be of Icelandic origin.  Perhaps this gull is an early arrival, as our summer breeding birds are known to winter in southern Europe.

Mallard numbers remained fairly constant throughout my visit, with around 40 birds present on my arrival.  Finally, I have recorded one with a 'metal-ring'.    5MN 1156 , was last sighted here on the 17th June 2016.  It was ringed in County Monaghan, in June 2015 as a juvenile, ready for release.  The gun clubs in Monaghan purchase young ducklings from a farm, rear, and then release them into the wild.  This 'offsets' those lost by being shot.

I'm left wondering, whether or not, there is some significance about today's sighting of   5MN 1156 .  My first ever sighting of this Mallard, was made on the 14th February 2016 - (co-incidence?).  Has it arrived back for the breeding season, having been away all winter?

Mallard  -    5MN 1156   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (05 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as a juvenile, June 2015, in Co. Monaghan, R. of Ireland)

6 Mute Swans and two cygnets, were soon joined by a pair, along with their two cygnets.  Another pair arrived from up-river at 11am and a further pair came in from the Lough at 11.40.  I managed to check the legs on 9 of the 12 adults, looking for rings, but again no joy.

Other species recorded today, were a record 20 Jackdaws, 1 Hooded Crow,  a single juvenile Moorhen, 2 pairs of Starlings, 1 pair of Pied Wagtails, a female Grey Wagtail and a male Chaffinch.  A Kingfisher, was heard, but not seen.


      Ringing Details Received       
On Thursday, I received the ringing details from the BTO, for the Mute Swan -   W39610 , which I spotted at the former Belfast Waterworks, last Sunday.

It came as a nice surprise, to learn that it had been ringed on the 18th May 2015, at Castle Semple Country Park, on Lochwinnoch, Scotland.  Ringed as an unsexed, 2nd year bird, it had travelled 118 kms / 97 miles SW, to get to Belfast.

Normally, Mute Swans tend to be fairly local in their movements, so I was delighted to record my second swan from Scotland.  On the 12th May 2016, I sighted    W32105 , at Antrim Marina.  This one had been ringed at Hogganfield Loch, Glasgow, on the 17th November 2011 (Blog).

Mute Swan  -    W39610   -  Castle Semple Country Park to Belfast Waterworks
( 118 Kms / 97 Miles SSW )

On Friday, I received an email from Hayley Douglas, who actually ringed   W39610 .  She thanked me for reporting my sighting, which was very much appreciated.  It is always nice to get some feedback from the ringers themselves.

Hayley went on to inform me of a new project starting this summer concerning Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  As part of the Clyde Ringing Group, they intend to 'Colour-Ring' and 'Satellite-Tag' these gulls in May and June.  It will be worthwhile, to look out for them in Northern Ireland, next autumn and winter.  There is a 'Facebook' account called 'Tag-n-Track', where you can follow their progress (Link).

My thanks to Hayley for her acknowledgement and letting me know about her new project.  Should I spot any 'colour-ringed' Lesser Black-backed Gulls, that are not listed on the cr-birding site, then I can at least try Hayley.


      Saturday 4th February 2017       
Today, I drove down to County Down, which I had intended to do a few weeks ago, but with developing problems with my car, I only got as far as Holywood, deciding not to go any further.  My itinerary for this afternoon was to cover sites at Bangor, Groomsport, Donaghadee, Millisle, Ballywalter, Portavogie and Portaferry.

Here at Bangor, I tried to re-sight two Black-headed Gulls,   2ALH  from Adam's Study, which is wintering at Ward Park and one with a 'Red Darvic', whose code I had failed to obtain on my previous visits.  With far less gulls than normal, neither bird was located.

Around 150 gulls, mostly Black-headed, were spotted on the roof of the nearby Bangor Campus.  Despite trying to lure the gulls down, they remained on the roof, with most lying down enjoying the sunshine.  Those that were standing were scoped for rings, but none were spotted.

Only a handful of Black-headed and a couple of Herring Gulls were present.  It only took a few minutes to check these, but no rings.

It was a case of 'Deja Vu', with the Black-headed Gulls at Donaghadee, but before this, I spotted a 'colour-ringed' Herring Gull on rocks, which had been surrounded by the rising tide.    1K:W  was a first sighting for me of another bird from the new study on the nearby Copeland Islands.

I have emailed Adam McClure, who not only runs the Northern Ireland Black-headed Gull Study, but is also the ringing co-ordinator of the new Herring Gull Study on Copeland.  I am still waiting on the ringing details, but   1K:W , is now my 8th Herring Gull sighting from the Study.

Herring Gull  -    1K:W   -  Donaghadee, Co. Down  (04 Feb 2017)
(Waiting on Ringing Details)

'Deja Vu', indeed.  Parking on the slipway, luring the gulls with bread, I soon had three 'ringed' Black-headed Gulls around me - 1 'colour-ringed' and 2 'metal-ringed'.  This is very much remininsent of the 5th March 2016, when I had the same combination of three 'ringed' BHGs.

The 'colour-ringed' gull was easily sorted, being   2BAL , from Adam McClure's study and my first ever sighting of it was made on the 5th March 2016, as mentioned above.

My camera, went into 'overdrive', taking pictures of the two 'metals'.  The gulls were easily identified, as one had lighter coloured legs than the other.  On checking my photos, I had completed the numbers on both 'metals'.

The gull with the lighter coloured legs, was   EY99583 , and was very nervous in trying to approach me for a share of the bread.  Not so shy, was the BHG with the darker legs.  It had an 'upside-down' ring, which read   EG55486 .  Remembering, that I had a 'partial' number on a similar ring last year, I sent a text message to my sister Heather and asked her to check both numbers on my Blog.

In her reply, Heather confirmed that the partial number recorded on the 5th March 2016, was that of BHG   EG55*46 , on an 'upside-down' ring.  Happy days, I've finally completed the full ring number.  There was no mention of   EY99583  on my Blog, so when I returned home, I checked both my files and spreadsheet, but   EY99583  turned out to be a new sighting.  I have reported both gulls to the BTO and now await their ringing details.

As a matter of interest, the third of the rings recorded on the 5th March 2016, was that of   EX97817 , the same BHG that I re-sighted here on the 24th December 2016, though not present today.

My thanks, to my sister Heather, for taking the time to check these gulls on my Blog.

Black-headed Gull  -    EY99583   -  Donaghadee, Co. Down  (04 Feb 2015)
(Waiting on Ringing Details)

Black-headed Gull  -    EG55486   (Upside-down Ring)  -  Donaghadee, Co. Down  (04 Feb 2017)
(Waiting on Ringing Details)

Black-headed Gull  -    2BAL   -  Donaghadee, Co. Down  (04 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as a chick, on the 22nd June 2014, at the Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

Known to be a hotspot for both 'colour and metal ringed' Common Gulls, I have had fairly good success in 'reading' metals here. At present, I have a couple of 'partials', which need completing.

One such bird, was recorded on my records as   EG55*** , on an upside-down ring.  Although I have recorded several gulls with the same prefix,   EG55***  was noted for a problem with it's right foot.  For some reason, it cannot stand with the foot flat to the ground.  My only previous sighting of the gull was made on the 23rd January 2016.

Today, I spotted a 'metal-ringed' Common Gull, with the same problem with it's foot.  Scoping the ring, I could see that it was placed upside-down.  Out came the camera and several photos later, I pieced together,   EG*5450  on the ring.  Despite missing out on the first number, I'm convinced that both sightings were of the same gull, with the full number reading   EG55450 .

This sorts out another 'partial' and I've reported the sighting to the BTO and now await the ringing details.  At present, I reckon the gull was ringed on the nearby Copeland Islands, probably as a chick in either 2005 or 2006.

Of interest, is just how close the number is to that of the Black-headed Gull, whose partial number was completed a short time earlier at Donaghadee.  The difference between the two numbers was just 36 (read above).  

Common Gull  -    EG55450   (Upside-down Ring)  -  Millisle, Co. Down
(Left :- Photo Taken on 04 Feb 2017  -  Right :- Photo Taken on 23 Jan 2016)
(Note the problem it has with it's right foot)

A second Common Gull, made a very determined effort to get a share of the bread, which was being used as a lure.  Easily recognised, as it has no feet, I had named the gull 'Stumps'.  I first spotted this gull on the 2nd July 2016, noticing that it was 'metal-ringed', but it flew off before I could get any photos.  On the 13th August, it landed in front of me long enough, that this time I managed to get a few pictures and a partial ring number   E**820* .

Despite my efforts to try and entice 'Stumps' to land on the ground, it was not obliging.  For now, I'm stuck with another partial ring number.

Common Gull  -    E**820*   -  Millisle, Co. Down
(Given the name 'Stumps'  -  Photo Taken on 13 Aug 2016)

After Millisle, I made quick visits to Ballywalter, Portavogie and ended the afternoon at Portaferry.

At Ballywalter, the only ring spotted was that of   ET02500 , the oldest BHG on my records (Blog).  I went on to spot a 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gull at the Marina in Portaferry, but despite all my attempts to lure the gull towards me, it remained where it stood.  There is no public access to the Marina.  5 Sandwich Terns, were also present at the Marina and one of these was 'metal-ringed'.


      Sunday 5th February 2017       
After completing my weekly visit to Antrim Marina, I drove down to the east Antrim coast, starting at Whitehouse Lagoon and was supposed to finish at Whitehead.  Because of what happened at Whitehouse Lagoon, I returned there before heading home.

Whitehouse Lagoon
Not quite as many gulls and waders were present today, but with the incoming tide not really effecting the Lagoon, most birds were well out on the mudflats.  Scoping for rings, the only one spotted was a 'Green Darvic' on a Common Gull.  Although my camera has a greater reach than my telescope, the gull was just out of range to capture the code on the ring.  I suspected that this Common Gull may have come from Norway and I've never recorded one with a green ring before.

I drove to the main car park, thinking that if I walked around the edge of the Lagoon, I could cut down the distance between me and the gull.  As usual, people always seem to get in the way when I'm trying to 'Read Rings'.  This time, two men and a young lad, started to fly a drone and by their actions, they seemed to be novices.

Having got the craft airborne, it was flown low, straight over the Lagoon and scared all the birds away.  They probably decided not to risk flying the drone over the parkland, in case they should loose control and hit folk out walking.  I returned to the Lagoon before going home and though the tide was well on it's way in, my Common Gull was still gone.

Common Gull  -  With Green Darvic  -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast  (05 Feb 2017)
(Possibly from Norway)

Whiteabbey Shoreline
Just like Whitehouse Lagoon, not too many gulls were present on the Whiteabbey Shoreline.  Scoping through the gulls, I spotted a Common Gull with a 'Blue Darvic'.  Waiting on the gull to exit the water, photos were easy to get and the code read   2AIP .  Today's sighting, is my 5th for this gull, having first spotted it here on the 10th October 2015.

A man and his wife, stopped with me, just as I was about to take photos and asked if I had seen anything interesting.  A short conversation took place about what I do and my Blog.  Finding it all very interesting, they said they would look up the Blog, to see if I managed to get the code on the ring.  If you should be looking in, here it is.

Common Gull  -    2AIP   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline, Co. Antrim  (05 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as Chick, on the 11th June 2012, at the Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

Having got   2AIP   sorted, I continued to scope the gulls and then spotted a 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gull.  I could tell by the height of the ring, that this gull was foreign.  Again, just out of camera range to clearly read the code, I was able to make out some details.  As the numbers, were above the address, I think that this gull may have come from Finland.  Pity it was not colour-ringed, as I would have had no problem obtaining the code.

'Metal-Ringed' Black-headed Gull  -  Whiteabbey Shoreline  (05 Feb 2017)
(Possibly from Finland)

Carrickfergus Harbour
The harbour is a good spot to record some of the Black-headed Gulls from Adams study.  The only one amongst 30'ish which approached me for bread, was the German ringed   IA114059 .  Adam captured this gull back in January 2016 and added a 'Darvic Ring',   2ANX .

Today's sighting is my second of the winter for   2ANX , having confirmed it's return to Carrickfergus on the 10th December 2016.  It was spotted twice in Poland, during March and July 2016 at Swinoujscie, close to the border with Germany.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ANX   /  Germany    IA114059   -  Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim  (05 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 14th May 2008, at Ostvorpommern, Germany)

Some gulls, resting on the harbour wall, opposite from where I was positioned, were not interested in the lure of bread.  Scoping these, I spotted a 'metal-ringed' Common Gull.  I was about to walk round to get closer and take photos of the ring, when a man walking his dog frightened them all off.  I didn't have time to wait for their return, as I still had to visit Whitehead and make a second visit to Whitehouse Lagoon.

Last winter, a Common Gull with an 'Orange Darvic' was spotted here on several occasions.  Originating from Aberdeenshire in Scotland, I had hoped to see it back at Carrickfergus this winter, but no joy on this one as yet.

Around 40 Black-headed Gulls and 7 Common Gulls were present and the only ring spotted was that of the Danish Black-headed Gull - (White) 5HA.  Today's, is my third sighting of 5HA this winter, having first spotted it here on the 28th November 2016 (Blog).  I had hoped that a Common Gull, which I had got a partial reading on a 'metal-ring', would show up, but still no sign of this one.

Black-headed Gull  -  (White)  5HA  -  Whitehead, Co. Antrim  (05 Feb 2017)
(Ringed as 3rd Year Male, on the 28th March 2015, at Gentofte, Denmark)