Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Good Attendance...

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina - Monday 25th September 2017       
Again, due to other commitments, I was not able to visit Antrim Marina, yesterday morning (Sunday 24th).  Arriving at around 9.20am this morning, I carried out the eigth of my weekly 'winter visits', recording 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls.

Undertaking, at least one visit per week, from the first Sunday in August until the last Sunday in March, this is my fifth winter, recording the gulls as part of my contribution towards Adam McClure's, Northern Ireland Study on this species.  For some reason, Adam, has not been responding to emails, even at the request of the British Trust for Ornithology, to do so.

Even, Adam's own blog, has seen no updates in six months now, which leaves us wondering about the status of his Study.  As can be seen from my own blog, I've spent a lot of time and money, contributing towards the study, even re-training to ring birds, with the view of catching and ringing BHGs during my visits to the Marina.

Over the last four winters, we know gulls from several Nationalities, spend the winter here, hence the idea of more BHGs being ringed at the site.  Although the ringing side, will now be put on hold, I'm not going to give up my weekly visits.  Adam, might have abondoned his study, but I've recorded too much info, just to give it all up.  Having, not missed a weekly 'winter visit' during the past four years, I'll carry on regardless.

My visit today, seemed more like the winter visits, that I've been used to.  Just like last Monday, the number of Black-headed Gulls present, was very good, with around a 100+ birds present at all times.  Unlike, previous weeks, colour-ringed gulls tended to remain on site today, but I reckon the turnover of gulls coming and going, would have been between 150 and 200 birds altogether.

Today, saw the addition of    2ABA , to the winter list, therefore increasing the total to 19, 'colour-ringed' BHGs, recorded so far.  I knew   2ABA , was in the area, as this non-resident, was spotted on the 16th July 2017.  I know from past observations,   2ABA  departs in late February or early March and has not been recorded at the Marina, during the months of April, May or June.  Also, going by past observations, mid-July appears to be the time when   2ABA , returns.  As far as I'm aware, the breeding location for   2ABA , is still unknown.

Last Monday, I spotted   2AAP , for the first time this winter, but it flew off before I could obtain a photo.  No problems today, as I managed to get a photo.  Aah, just remembered, I never mentioned the weather.  It was a nippy start to the morning and fog persisted throughout my visit, which ended just after 1pm.  Driving away from the Marina, the fog was left behind, revealing a bright sunny day elsewhere.

There is still no sign of   2AAD  or   2AAH .  These two, should have been present from the start of my weekly 'winter visit's'.  I'm not going to 'write' these two off just yet, but it does appear that we've lost another two gulls. 

Black-headed Gull  -    2ABA   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (25 Sep 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 28th December 2012, at Antrim Marina)

Black-headed Gull  -    2AAP   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (25 Sep 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 21st December 2012, at Antrim Marina)

Black-headed Gulls re-sighted on Monday 25th September 2017
 2CJT   2AAT   2ABK   T35J   2ACV   2AAN   2ABN   2ABL   2AAK 
 2AAC   2ABS   2ABF   2AAF   2BRA   2AAB   2ABA   2AAP    

This Week's Absentees
 2AAA   2ADJ 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
I have to start this section, with the Common Gulls.  As stated in my previous post for Antrim Marina, I made mention of a Scottish 'metal-ringed' Common Gull, which should now be back in the Antrim area.

Just before 9.30, this morning, a party of 5 Common Gulls - 4 adults and a juvenile arrived, settling at the end of the long wooden jetty.  Looking at these through my binoculars, one gull with a 'metal-ring', was perched on top of the 'speed sign-post', which reads 3 knots.  Seeing, that it was a small female, I knew this had to be   EY64036 .  No sooner, had they landed, they were off again, flying out towards the Lough.

No worries though, as all five, came and went throughout the morning.  A few photos later, I had captured the number on the 'metal-ring', confirming my gull was indeed   EY64036 .  This is now the fifth winter, that this gull has come to the Marina, to see out the winter.  I first recorded it here, as a juvenile, during the winter of 2013/14.

The table below, gives the first and last dates, in which   EY64036 , has been spotted, each winter at the Marina.

Common Gull  -    EY64036   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (25 Sep 2017)
(Photo Taken at First Sighting During my Visit to the Marina)

The Table below, shows first and last sightings each winter, for   EY64036 
Date Details Location Distance / Direction Duration
20 Jun 2013 Ringed as a Chick (U) by The Clyde Ringing Group Hunterston, Ayrshire, Scotland 0 kms / 0 miles 0y  0m  0d
09 Feb 2014 Spotted by Gareth Platt Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland 142 kms / 89 miles (SW) 0y  7m  20d
21 Sep 2014 Spotted by Gareth Platt Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland 142 kms / 89 miles (SW) 1y  3m  1d
15 Mar 2015 Spotted by Gareth Platt Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland 142 kms / 89 miles (SW) 1y  8m  23d
22 Nov 2015 Spotted by Gareth Platt Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland 142 kms / 89 miles (SW) 2y  5m  2d
06 Mar 2016 Spotted by Gareth Platt Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland 142 kms / 89 miles (SW) 2y  8m  15d
04 Sep 2016 Spotted by Gareth Platt Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland 142 kms / 89 miles (SW) 3y  2m  15d
22 Jan 2017 Spotted by Gareth Platt Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland 142 kms / 89 miles (SW) 3y  7m  2d
25 Sep 2017 Spotted by Gareth Platt Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland 142 kms / 89 miles (SW) 4y  3m  5d

The Herring Gull pair, along with their juvenile, were absent today.  A juvenile did appear, later in the morning and judging by it's manner, it was most likely to be the second of the two juveniles and the one I questioned, whether it belonged to the adult pair.  No Lesser Black-backed Gulls, were seen today either.

The family party of Mute Swans, were present throughout.  A further four Mute Swans, swam in from the Lough around 10.30 and included   W34158 .  I managed to check all the swans for rings.  The male, from the family party, seemed to be less aggressive today, allowing two birds onto the slipway, where the 5 cygnets were lying down on the concrete.

There was a big drop in Mallard numbers, with a maximum of around 50 birds.  Again, no rings spotted on any of these.

3 Hooded Crows, 9 Jackdaws, 2 Pied Wagtails and a Grey Wagtail, were noted.  On several occasions, the young Buzzard, could be heard calling from the woodland opposite the Marina.  A juvenile Grey Heron and a juvenile Cormorant, landed on the low wooden jetty, but quickly flew off again, due to people walking by. 

Elim Church, Parkhall and Antrim KFC
On leaving the Marina, before heading home, I called by the Elim Church on the Parkhall Housing Estate and the Antrim Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet.  Neither of the Black-headed Gulls,   2AAV  or the Norwegian   JK35 , were present.


      Sunday 24th September 2017       
Although, I could not make it to Antrim Marina, this morning, I did manage to find time to take a run out this afternoon.  With an out-going tide, I decided to make quick visits to Carrickfergus, Whiteabbey Beach and Whitehouse Lagoon.

Calling by the harbour first, there were lots of Black-headed Gulls about.  The only problem was that I couldn't find anywhere to park the car, where I'd get peace to attract the gulls with bread.  My usual parking area, saw several people working with power skies, so I decided to come back later.

I then called by the Mill ponds at Carrickfergus Leisure Centre.  On my previous visit here, the gulls took no attention to the bread being thrown out to them, but I did spot a young Black-headed Gull, with an 'Orange Darvic'.  No such problems today, as the gulls were 'biting', and around 50 birds flocked around my feet looking for the bread, but this time, no rings were seen.

When I did return to Carrickfergus, just as the light was beginning to fade, I noticed large numbers of gulls on the shoreline.  I drove into the housing estate at Rhanbuoy Park, finding that I could park beside the seawall, quite close to the gulls.  Here, there is a fresh water outlet, which flows into Belfast Lough.  Such outlets, always attracts gull, into which they can bathe.

Throwing, full slices of bread over the wall, I soon had as many as 150 gulls, squabbling over this.  Although, the light was failing quite quickly now, I did spot a juvenile BHG, with an 'Orange Darvic', but it flew off, before I could get a photo.  I could not read the code with my binoculars.  This spot, will be well worth visiting again, and this is the same area, where I spotted a BHG, last winter with a 'Green Darvic'.

It was too dark, to try Carrickfergus harbour again, so I headed home.

Whitabbey Shoreline
Having, moved on from initial visit to Carrickfergus, I spent a long time at the Whiteabbey beach-front.  I have been hoping to re-sight a Portuguese-rung Lesser black-backed Gull, which I've recorded here between August and October, during the previous two winters.

There was no sign of my target, but I did spot three 'metals' and a 'colour-ring'.  It's nigh on impossible, to read 'metals' here, with a Common Gull, a Sandwich Tern and a Black-headed Gull, each 'metal-rung'.  The Black-headed Gull, was a foreign bird, as it had a taller ring, than those of British rings.

The 'colour-ring', was an 'Orange Darvic', on a juvenile Black-headed Gull, reading -   2CPN .  This one is from Adam's (NI) Study, but I doubt if I'll receive a reply to my email.

Black-headed Gull  (Juvenile)  -    2CPN   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline, Co. Antrim  (24 Sep 2017)
(Waiting on Ringing Details from Adam McClure)

Whitehouse Lagoon
By the time I got to Whitehouse Lagoon, the tide was well out and the total number of gulls and waders present, was disappointing.  The only ring spotted, was on a Black-headed Gull -   2BNA .  This is my third sighting of   2BNA , having previously recorded it at Whitehouse Lagoon, on the 19th October 2016 and 24th September 2017.  

Black-headed Gull  -    2BNA   -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Co. Antrim  (24 Sep 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 1st July 2013, at Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim)


I've been holding back, to post an article, for gulls spotted by Suzanne Belshaw.  I was waiting for the ringing details of a 'metal-rung' juvenile Black-headed Gull, which Suzanne spotted on the 7th September, at Lurgan Park.  When, I arrived home from work last night (Tuesday), Suzanne had sent an email, having received the details from the BTO.  Also mentioned, were re-sightings of Adam's Study birds at Sprucefield and Kinnego Marina.  I'll try and get this posted tomorrow, but it could be Thursday before I get this done.

As well as Suzanne's sightings, I have now received replies, for another three Sandwich Terns, spotted by Cameron Moore, at Whitehead.  Cameron, has had great success, reading Sandwich Tern 'Darvic's' at Whitehead recently.  A post on these, will be published later in the week.


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