Thursday, 14 September 2017

Numbers Increasing...

Aaah, running late again.  With the limited time that has been available for working on 'birdie' stuff, I've been busy with further ring sightings from Cameron Moore.  Sorting through a host of photos, labelling and reporting the birds to the revelent ringers, I'm almost ready to post another feature on Cameron's sightings.  I had intended to post a feature, concerning sightings by Suzanne Belshaw, but as she is waiting on a ringing report on a recently spotted juvenile BHG, it give's me a little time, to prepare an article.

      Black-headed Gulls At Antrim Marina - 10th September 2017       
Today, saw the 6th of my weekly winter visits to Antrim Marina, to record colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls from Adam McClure's Northern Ireland Study.  There was a change in the weather, being quite stormy, with strong westerly winds and frequent showers of rain, some quite heavy.

The conditions, led to an increase in the number of gulls present, with good numbers throughout most of my visit.  Around 10.30, there was a drop in gull numbers, but this did not last for long.  With the sighting of   2ACV , last Sunday, the overall number of 'colour-ringed' BHGs, had wrose to 17 on my winter list.  The expected total for this winter is 29, which includes T35J.

15 of these, were re-sighted today, the only absentees being   2ABL , which has lost it's 'colour-ring' and the Lithuanian - White T35J.    2ABL , can only be identified by it's 'metal-ring', but no gulls with just 'metals', were spotted today.

Three gulls already have me wondering, as they have not been sighted as yet.    2AAH , is a resident, while   2AAP  and   2AAD , appear to be winter visitors, usually being re-sighted at the Marina, in the latter part of the breeding season.  All three of these gulls, should have been spotted by now, as they are normally present from early August, going by past observations.  Having been recorded during the breeding season in previous years, for some reason   2AAH , has not been spotted this summer.  The last record of it's presence, was on the 12th February 2017.  Have we lost another gull?

  2ALH , a gull that bred here in the summer of 2016, remaining at the Marina, until the 11th September 2016, was not spotted this summer or during my recent winter visits.  At some point, I'll have to visit Ward Park, Bangor, County Down, to see if I can find it.  I found it wintering at this site, on the 18th and 24th December 2016, so a few visits to Ward Park, will be required to see if it is still alive.

Another BHG, which is considered as a winter visitor, is   2ABA .  I did spot   2ABA , in the weeks prior to the start of my winter visits, having recorded it's presence on the 16th July 2017.  Checking on it's re-sighting history,   2ABA , has never been recorded here during the months of April, May and June, alway re-appearing in mid July.  I am surprised, that   2ABA  has not been re-sighted of late.

With   2AAV , having been spotted in Antrim's Parkhall Housing Estate and   2ADD , having now most likely, returned to it's wintering quarters in Carrickfergus, the next returnee, should be   2AAR .  This gull, is known to breed in Poland and usually returns to the Marina during October.  I would expect to see it back, either on Sunday 8th or Sunday 15th.  Two other gulls, which may reappear in early to mid October, are   2ACX  and   2ADV .  Their return dates, from past records, are a bit more erratic, making it harder to guess dates for them.

On departing from the Marina just after 1pm, a quick count of the BHGs still present, gave me a total of around 100.  At this time, the only 'colour-ringed' bird present, was   2CJT .  The overall winter list, remains at 17 'colour-ringed' gulls.

Black-headed Gulls Spotted Today at Antrim Marina  -  10th September 2017
 2ABK   2ACV   2ABF   2AAT   2AAC   2AAB   2ADJ   2AAN 
 2CJT   2AAK   2AAF   2BRA   2ABS   2ABN   2AAA    

Today's Absentees
 T35J   2ABL 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
The family group of Mute Swans, - 2 adult and 5 cygnets, were present throughout my visit.  A single swan, swam in from the lough, just before 10.30 and turned out to be   W34158 .  I'm thinking that the lack of swans visiting the Marina, is due to the male from the family group, chasing off other swans.  I saw this happening last week and today, when   W34158 , attempted to swim round from the small beach to the slipway, it too, was chased off.

Mallard numbers, were consistantly high, with around 100+ birds being present throughout my visit.  I am still waiting to spot my first Mallard this winter, with a 'metal-ring'.

The adult pair of Herring Gulls, were present throughout my visit, but strangely, their chick/chicks, did not appear until 11am, when both youngsters arrived together, much to the excitement of their parents.  With both begging food from the adults, one of the juveniles departed soon afterwards, which still leaves me wondering about the parentage on this one.

A single adult Lesser-Black-backed Gull, was present throughout my four hour visit.

Two adult Common Gulls arrived together, around 12.00 and were still present on my departure, just after 1pm.  I'm now expecting to see the re-appearance of   EY64036 , a small female Common Gull, which has wintered in the area, since arriving as a juvenile during the winter of 2013/14.

Other species recorded today, were, 3 Hooded Crows, 8 Jackdaws and a single Grey Wagtail.  Just like last Sunday, a juvenle Hooded Crow and juvenile Jackdaw, both took pieces of bread, which had been placed on the wing mirror of my car.  The placement of the bread, is to gain the confidence of the juvenile Black-headed Gulls, with the view of catching them on a later date, to be ringed.

Elim Church, Parkhall & Antrim's KFC Outlet
Having spotted Black-headed Gull's,   2AAV  in Parkhall and the Norwegian -   JK35 , at Antrim's KFC outlet, last Sunday, neither bird was spotted at these sites today.  The number of BHGs at the KFC, had increased significantly to over 50 birds, mainly adults.


      Belfast - Sunday 10th September 2017       
On leaving the Antrim area on Sunday, I drove on down to Belfast, visiting Whitehouse Lagoon, the former Belfast Waterworks and Victoria Park.

Whitehouse Lagoon
Arriving here, I watched, as the remaining mudflats disappeared under an incoming tide.  15 minutes later, they were gone, but this gave me the time to scope the small number of gulls still present and around 300 Black-tailed Godwit's.  Hope's were high on spotting a 'ringed' Godwit, but luck was not on my side today.  With all legs hidden, I moved on to the Waterworks.

Belfast Waterworks
I spent a long time here, as there were plenty of gulls and Mute Swans, especially on the lower lake.  In the end, the only ring recorded, was on a Greylag Goose - White 204.  Ringed as an adult female, on the 12th February 2016, at Victoria Park in Belfast, my only previous sighting of this goose, was made on the 29th January 2017, here at the Waterworks.  Also bearing a satellite collar, this goose belongs to a study on this species and their impact with flights at Belfast City Airport.

Female Greylag Goose  -  White 204  -  Belfast Waterworks  (10 Sep 2017)

Victoria Park
Although, there were plenty of Black-headed and other species of gull, around the park's lake, I was disappointed not to spot any 'ringed' birds.  This is a site, where I have previously spotted a number of 'ringed' Black-headed Gulls and Greylag Geese, so a repeat visit shortly, will be a priority.

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