Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Where are the Gulls...

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina - Sunday 13th August       
Today, saw my second visit to Antrim Marina - the 5th winter season of 'Ring Watching' here.  Arriving as usual, just after 9am, I departed an hour earlier than normal, leaving just after 12.00.  My reason being, my frustration waiting for gulls to appear.  Around 30 to 40 Black-headed Gulls, were present up to 11am, then the trainee canoeists arrived, after which time, gulls only appeared occasionally.

It was a nice, calm and sunny day, which may have accounted for the lack of gulls,  but I often wonder, where do these birds go to.  Those present today, were mostly juvenile BHG's.  I only recorded three of Adam's Study birds -   2AAC  at 09.10,   2ABK  at 10.06 and   2AAF  at 10.35.

Glancing at my spreadsheet, for the corressponding dates for previous seasons, there would have been more 'colour-ringed' birds present.  The lack of BHG's, was also the case, on visiting Antrim KFC, Kinnego Marina and Lurgan Park, after departing from the Marina.  Even in my home town of Ballymena, there has been few Black-headed Gull's at The Peoples Park, where normally, there would be 100 to 150 birds at this time of the year.

The table's below, show the Black-headed Gulls recorded from the start of the 2017/18 winter season, whether present or absent.  The number of 'colour-ringed' birds will increase as the winter progresses.

Black-headed Gulls Recorded at Antrim Marina  -  Sunday 13th August 2017
 2AAC   2ABK   2AAF 

Black-headed Gulls Absent at Antrim Marina  -  Sunday 13th August 2017
 2AAT   2BRA   2ABF 

There was just the one Juvenile Herring Gull today, which as I suspected last week, belonged to an adult, which would appear from time to time.  The second juvenile that was here last Sunday, must have been independant of it's parents.  A single Lesser Black-backed Gull, arrived at 10.30, only remaining for around 10 minutes.

Adult Herring Gull Flying Away, having just fed it's youngster
Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (13 Aug 2017)

The pair of Mute Swans, along with their 5 cygnets, were the only swans present.  A man approached me at one stage, asking if I knew the reason for the lack of swans.  I have no idea, as to why they vanish, as numbers in May and June, were in the region of 20 to 30 birds and at that time of year, were presumably non-breeders.  This disappearance of the swans has happened before and even Ruth Wilson from the local Council, had enquired about it.

Mallard numbers, were quite good throughout my visit, with totals increasing to around 60 to 70 birds.  Still no rings to be spotted on any of them.

On the whole, it was a fairly quite morning birdwise, with 3 Hooded Crows, 15 Jackdaws and 4 Grey Wagtails, being the only other species noted.

Antrim's Elim Church and KFC
Leaving the Marina, I drove across town to check the Elim Church at the Parkhall Housing Estate and Antrim's Kentucky Fried Chicken Outlet.  At the Church, two un-ringed adult Black-headed Gulls were perched on the roof.

At the KFC outlet, there was no sign of the Norwegian   JK35 , which was recorded back here last Sunday.  There was just three juvenile Black-headed Gulls in the car park, one of which was very brown, meaning it was not that long ago, since it fledged.

Kinnego Marina
Moving on from the KFC Outlet, I drove down to Kinnego Marina, at the southern end of Lough Neagh.  As seems to be the norm at present, very few Black-headed Gulls were present.  23 were counted, with around two-thirds of these being this summer's youngsters.  A single 'colour-ringed' bird from Adam's Study, was spotted on one of the jetties, being   2BPT .

Black-headed Gull  -    2BPT   -  Kinnego Marina, Co. Armagh  (13 Aug 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Female, on the 31st October 2014, at Kinnego Marina)

Lurgan Park Lake
My visit to Lurgan Park, lasted all of 15 minutes.  Very few Black-headed Gulls were present.  In fact, there were greater numbers of larger gulls, these being Herring and Lesser Black-backed's.  Although, there were a good number of folk feeding the ducks and swans with bread, the gulls were largly dis-interested, so it wasn't worth hanging around.


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