Saturday, 9 September 2017

Youngster Returns...

Since a thunderstorm, just over two weeks ago, we have suffered poor or no internet coverage.  This has caused quite a problem, trying to produce or research anything online.  Thursday, saw the arrival of a new router and now things or back to normal.

My intention today (Saturday 9th), was to remain at home and catch up on everything that needs doing, including this post, which should have gone online earlier in the week.  As usual, things do not go to plan.  I have decided, once again, to post an un-finished article and hope to add the rest of the 'meat' tomorrow evening.

After my weekly visit to the Marina in the morning, I intend to go looking for rings, so the blog will have to wait, until I return home. 

      Antrim Marina - Sunday 3rd September 2017       
The weather, was quite mild for this, my 5th weekly visit of the 2017/18 winter season at Antrim Marina.  With 16 Black-headed Gulls on the winter list, this increased by one, as my first sighting of the day was   2ACV .

Last seen at the Marina on the 26th February 2017,   2ACV  probably breeds somewhere around Leighton Moss in Lancashire, England, having been spotted there in late April 2016.  At present, Adam is not responding to emails, so I cannot check to see whether   2ACV , was spotted during the breeding season this summer.

On the whole, likely due to the mild weather, the number of Black-headed Gulls visiting the Marina, was fairly low.  With 27 counted on my arrival, a peak of around 80 to 90 birds, were present between 10.30 and 11am.  Numbers dropped after this, with around 40 gulls, mostly juveniles present when I departed, just after 1pm.

I spent a good part of the morning, teasing some of the juvenile Black-headed Gulls, to fly up and lift bits of bread from the wing mirror of my car.  I'm trying to gain their confidence, with the view of catching some of these by hand at a later date, so that they can be ringed.

As well as   2ACV , a further 7 colour-ringed BHGs were recorded, with 9 birds from this winters list, being absent.  When I departed, around 100 BHGs, were well spread out, feeding on the playing fields close to Antrim Forum.  They were not there, when I drove down the avenue to the Marina at 09.15, this morning.

Black-headed Gulls Spotted Today  -  3rd September 2017
 2ACV   2CJT   2ABS   2AAF   2ADJ   2BRA   2AAA   2ABF 

This Week's Absentees
 T35J   2AAT   2AAK   2AAC   2ABN   2ABK   2AAB   2AAN   2ABL 

Black-headed Gull  -    2ACV   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (03 Sep 2017)
(Ringed as an Un-sexed Juvenile, on the 21st October 2013, at Antrim Marina)

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
No Mute Swans, were present on my arrival, but the pair with the five cygnets, appeared from up-river, soon afterwards.  At 11.15, three adult Mute Swans, attempted to swim in from the Lough, but were quickly chased away, by the male from the family group.

Mallard numbers were again high, with 70 birds at first, increasing to around the 100 mark, by the time of my departure.  Again, no rings spotted on any of these.

The juvenile Herring Gull, was present all morning, as was one of it's parents.  A single Lesser Black-backed Gull, arrived at 11.35 and was still present on my departure.  An adult Common Gull, appeared at 11.57, but only stayed for around 10 minutes.

Other species noted were, 4 Hooded Crows, 9 Jackdaws and 3 Grey Wagtails.  One Hooded Crow and Jackdaw, both juveniles, plucked up the courage to take bread from my wing mirror, which had been placed there for the Black-headed Gulls.  This shows, just how hungry these youngsters are now becoming.

Elim Church, Parkhall and Antrim KFC
Moving on from Antrim Marina, I made my now usual stops at the Elim Church in Parkhall and Antrim's KFC outlet.    2AAV , was spotted at the Church, where it can be found quite often during the winter months.  Occasionally, it will travel down to the Marina, then I can add it to the winter list.  I took a photo of   2AAV , but it was blurred, so I've decided not to use it.

Around 30 Black-headed Gulls, were at Antrim's KFC outlet.  The only ring spotted, was my second sighting this winter, of the Norwegian-rung   JK35 .  No blurred photo for this time.

Black-headed Gull  -     JK35   -  Antrim KFC, Co. Antrim  (03 Sep 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 18th June 2014, nr Stavanger, Norway)


      Ringing Details Recieved       
Ruben Fijn, has kindly sent me the ringing details for the two juvenile Sandwich Terns, which I spotted on the 21st August 2017 (Read Here), just to the north of Donaghadee in County Down.  I had questioned the origin of these two juveniles, as the codes on their rings, were only seven digits apart.

Checking the cr-birding website, the rings were Dutch, which was later confirmed by Mardik Leopold, through contact by Ewan Weston, of the Grampian Ringing Group in Scotland.

One of the two juveniles, despite being just 2 months, since it was ringed, has already provided quite an interesting re-sighting history.  Full details for both Terns, are given below.

Date Details Location / Direction Distance Duration
19 Jun 2017 Ringed as a Chick by Ruben Fijn Scheelhoek, Haringvliet Inlet, SW Holland 0 kms / 0 miles 0y  0m  0d
21 Aug 2017 Spotted by Gareth Platt Donaghadee, Co. Down, Northern Ireland 713 kms / 443 miles (NW) 0y  2m  2d
Details for Sandwich Tern    21.C 

  28.C , has fairly covered the miles since being ringed.  Although the table shows the distance and direction from the ringing site to the location of sighting, it does not give the total milage this young tern has covered.

Having flown from the ringing site, to Newbiggin by the sea,   28.C , then travelled back across the North Sea, to Northern Holland, which added another 468 kms / 290 miles to it's journey.  The direct distance from De Koog, to Donaghadee, added another 696 kms / 432 miles, making a grand total of 1,689 kms / 1, 048 miles.

It is very unlikely, that   21.C  or   28.C , flew directly over the English Mainland in order to reach Northern Ireland.  They could have gone via the north coast of Scotland, then south-wards down the Irish Sea, or took the southerly route around England, then north-wards up the Irish Sea.  Either direction, would added significantly to the distance covered.

Date Details Location / Direction Distance Duration
19 Jun 2017 Ringed as a Chick by Ruben Fijn Scheelhoek, Haringvliet Inlet, SW Holland 0 kms / 0 miles 0y  0m  0d
12 Jul 2017 Spotted by Steve Holliday Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland, England 525 kms / 326 miles (NW) 0y  0m  23d
30 Jul 2017 Spotted by Mardik Leopold De Koog, Texel, N Holland 151 kms / 94 miles (NNE) 0y  1m  11d
21 Aug 2017 Spotted by Gareth Platt Donaghadee, Co. Down, Northern Ireland 713 kms / 443 miles (NW) 0y  2m  2d
Details for Sandwich Tern    28.C  

Map Showing Sites Mentioned Above

My thanks go to Ewan and Mardik for their assistance and also to Ruben, for supplying the details on these young terns.


      The People's Park, Ballymena       
I have been visiting my local park quite often of late.  For some reason, gull numbers have been fairly low or non existent, through the months of July and August.  In past autumn's, Black-headed Gull numbers, would frequently reach 100 to 150 birds, these mainly being juveniles.  The park's lake, often seems like a nursery for these young gulls.

Around 50 Black-headed Gulls, were present, during my visit on Friday the 1st September.  Luring these with bread, onto the pebble covered shore of the lake, I noticed a 'Black Darvic'.  Straight away, I thought to myself, that this was the youngster from last winter, though I could'nt mind it's ring number.

Zooming in with my camera, my suspicions were correct, it was   2AXV , sporting it's near adult plumage.  Ringed as a chick in June 2016, at Marsh Lane Nature Reserve, near Coventry, England, I first spotted   2AXV , at the People's Park, on the 23rd October 2016 (Read).  During the winter, I recorded   2AXV , on 10 occasions, with the last sighting being made on the 11th March 2017.  Great, to see it again, alive and well.  Hopefully, it will stay here until next spring.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AXV   -  The People's Park, Ballymena, Co. Antrim  (01 Sep 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 7th June 2016, at Marsh Lane NR, nr Coventry, England)


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