Monday, 16 October 2017

3 New BHGs...

I never got around to completing the 'Ringing Details Received', section in my previous post, which I had meant to finish off, on Saturday.  With one thing and another, I did'nt even get out to do any birdwatching at all, and never got near to working on my blog.

Although, the BTO, sent me details, for two Black-headed Gulls, belonging to Adam's Study.  I had hoped for other recovery reports, later on Friday, but even as I write this on Monday evening, I'm still waiting on details for three other BHGs and two Sandwich Terns.

As mentioned in my previous post, I was contemplating on the idea of visiting Antrim Marina on Monday 16th October.  As the tail-end of hurricane Ophelia, was forcast to hit Northern Ireland, I thought Monday would be an ideal time to visit.  Perhaps, it was not such a good idea, due to the lack of gulls.  This was more, than remedied, by the discovery of three new Black-headed Gull sightings, upon leaving the Marina.

As I write this, at 8pm in the evening, it is blowing a gale outside my home and I'm saddened to hear on the news, that three people have been killed by the storm, in the Republic of Ireland.

I'm off work, until Thursday and should finish this post without too many delays.  I intend to go to County Down tomorrow (Tuesday), and hopefully record some more new sightings.

      Antrim Marina - Monday 16th October 2017       
Perhaps, delaying my weekly visit until today, was a big mistake.  On my arrival at the Marina, at 09.15, only two Black-headed Gulls, were present.  One of these was   2CJT , which was caught and ringed here last winter, the second bird being a juvenile.

Although, the sky was darkened with heavy cloud, there was no rain, but a strong south-easterly wind, did not have the desired effect that I was hoping for.  I was expecting to see lots of gulls, standing around the Marina, but today saw the exact opposite.

Most of the time, there were no gulls at all, and when they did arrive, numbers were between 10 and 40 birds.  With my 'Winter List', standing at 20 'colour-ringed' BHGs, only 9 were recorded altogether.  I also had to leave the Marina, earlier than planned (Midday), as the local Council, had decided to shut down the whole area, due to the oncoming storm.

I had hoped to see the return of   2AAR  today, but if he is back, I'll not know until next Sunday's visit.

Black-headed Gulls Spotted at Antrim Marina  -  Monday 16th October 2017
 2CJT   2AAF   2AAN   2ABK   2AAT   2ACV   2AAA   2ADJ   2ABF 

Today's Absentees
 T35J   2AAP   2AAK   2AAC   2ABN   2ABS 
 2ABA   2AAB   2ABL   2AAV   2BRA   2BRA 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
A single Mute Swan cygnet, was present on my arrival.  As it easily came to hand to be fed bread, I knew this bird was one of the five cygnets, which have been seen here since June.  This youngster hung around till just after 10am, then swam out towards the Lough, passing an adult swimming in.  This bird, when it eventually came onto the slipway, was   W34158 .

At 10.45, a pair of Mute Swans, along with two cygnets, arrived from up-river.  Again, they along with their cygnets, easily came to hand, to be fed, therefore confirming that these were from the same family group.  It was only last week, the whole family broke up for the first time.

Mallard numbers, were very low, with just 28 birds counted when I arrived.  With birds flying in from the Lough, all through my visit, around 70 ducks were present when I departed.  Still no rings to be found on these.

Not a single Common Gull was seen, but the near adult Herring Gull, which has appeared of late, arrived in at 10.35, followed by a juvenile at 11.40.

Other species noted, were 4 Hooded Crows, 7 Jackdaws, 2 Magpies, 1 juvenile Grey Heron (stood on the long jetty for around 20 minutes) and a juvenile Cormorant (fishing in the river). 

Elim Church, Parkhall, Antrim
As   2AAV , was not at the Marina, I stopped by the Elim Church at Antrim's Parkhall Housing Estate, where   2AAV  visits quite frequently during the winter.

Parking beside the Church, around 40 BHGs, were perched on the roof.  One of the nearest birds, had an 'Orange Darvic', and I knew this would be   2AAV .  On lowering my car window, some of the gulls flew straight for me.  Some of these birds have got used to me feeding them here.  Scanning, the remaining birds on the roof through my binoculars, I spotted a juvenile BHG, with a 'Yellow Darvic'.  Out came the camera, and a couple of photos were taken and the 'code' captured -   2EA1 .  On feeding the gulls with bread beside my car, I soon confirmed the presence of   2AAV , as well.

Returning home, I sent an email to Paul Roper of the Thames Gull Group, concerning   2EA1 .  He re-plied to say it was one of Calum Campbell's birds in Scotland.  Contacting Calum, he replied to say that   2EA1 , was ringed as a chick, on the 19th June 2017, at the Forvie National Nature Reserve, just north of Aberdeen in Scotland.

  2EA1 , has flown 390 kms / 242 miles, south-west, to reach Antrim Town, and the duration since being ringed is, 3 months and 27 days.    2EA1 , is also the third Scottish-rung juvenile, known to have reached Northern Ireland, this autumn.  The other two, came from the Elvanfoot colony, in the Scottish Borders area.  They are   EZ02451 , spotted at Lurgan Park, by Suzanne Belshaw, and   2BP2 , sighted by Cameron Moore, at Whitehead.

Having asked, why   EZ02451 , was not colour-ringed, the Clyde Ringing Group Secretary - Iain Livingstone, suggested, that on the day of ringing, they either ran out of colour-rings or the gull was too small to take a Darvic.  Iain, also stated, that the colony experienced a higher than normal, output of chicks this year.

My thanks to Calum and Iain, for supplying ringing details and comments.

Black-headed Gull  (Juvenile)  -    2EA1   -  Elim Church, Parkhall, Antrim, Co. Antrim  (16 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 19th June 2017, at Forvie NNR, Aberdeenshire, Scotland)

Black-headed Gull  -    2AAV   -  Elim Church, Parkhall, Antrim, Co. Antrim  (16 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as an Un-sexed Adult, on the 28th December 2012, at Antrim Marina)

Antrim's KFC Outlet
Moving on to Antrim's Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, I was on the lookout for the Norwegian-rung Black-headed Gull -   JK35 .  Around 35 BHGs, were present, but no sign of my target.  A metal-ringed BHG, was spotted, which I knew was foreign, having a taller ring, than those of the BTO.

Taking lots of photos, I checked to see if I had the complete number, before leaving the site.  To my delight, the number was complete, the gull being from Finland -   ST263.237 .  I then wondered to myself, if this was the same Finnish bird that I got here on the 18th September 2016.

On checking my data, back at home, today's sighting, was of a new bird, the ring recorded last year was,   ST239.172 .  Comparing ring numbers of the Finnish BHGs, on my Spreadsheet/Database, today's gull, may well be quite old'ish, possible ringed 10 years ago.  I also noted, that   ST263.237 , has a slightly 'dodgy' left leg, seemingly, unable to bend the leg at the knee joint.  I've reported the gull, through the BTO online and now await the ringing details.

Black-headed Gull  -  Finland    ST263.237   -  Antrim KFC Outlet,  Co. Antrim  (16 Oct 2017)
(Waiting on Ringing Details, note the 'dodgy' left-leg, )

Antrim Baptist Church
Before returning home, I stopped by Antrim Baptist Church, the site where I discovered   2AAB , recently.  As this gull, was not at the Marina today, I thought it might be at the Church.  Driving towards the Church, on the link road, around 80 BHGs were spotted on the grass next to the road.  Some of these, lifted into the air, when I stopped my car and I noticed one bird with a 'White Darvic'.

Hah, I thought, is this where, the Lithuanian (White) T35J, hangs out, when not at the Marina.  Having used the last of my bread, feeding the gulls at the KFC outlet, I drove to a nearby filling station and purchased another loaf.  Returning, and parking in the car park of the Baptist Church, I began throwing out bits of bread.

Most of the gulls, were now around me, including the gull with the White Darvic.  Unlike, T35J, this gull hovered above my car, trying to catch the bread as I threw it out.  I then noticed, this bird had a different code, as I saw the digits - 43.  Eventually, it landed and I was able to take a few pictures.  The code read - TY43, and I suspected the bird was Polish, which I was able to confirm, on returning home.

I also checked the code on Adam's blog, but did not get any results.  I reported my sighting, through the live - Online Polish Ringing Database and waited for their reply, confirming my sighting.  The reply, was waiting in my inbox, after I returned from my visit to County Down yesterday (Tuesday 17th).

I was now able to access the gulls ringing and re-sighting history.  (White) TY43 (metal -   FN13744 ), was ringed on the 9th February 2012, as an un-sexed 2nd Calendar year bird, at Olsztyn, in the north-east of Poland.  I then saw that it's first re-sighting, was made by Adam McClure, at Antrim Marina, on the 29th October 2013.  Having seen this, I went back to Adam's blog, to find that he had reported it as (White) TY34 (Blog), although the photo showed TY43 (Photo).

My sighting on Monday, is only the second sighting of the gull outside of Poland.  It has been re-sighted in Olsztyn, in March 2015 and March 2017.  I would assume, that TY43, returns to the Antrim area each winter, but wonder how come, it has not been spotted, since 2013.

Could it be possible, that TY43, has visited the Marina, and gone un-detected.  On each visit to Marina, once I have spotted T35J, I automatically assume, it's the same gull, each time I spot a 'White Darvic'.  From now on, I'll have to check each sighting of a 'White' ring, just in case.

The distance from Olsztyn, to Antrim's Baptist Church, is 1,725 kms / 1,071 miles, in a westerly direction.  The duration since ringing, is now, 5 years, 8 months and 7 days.

Black-headed Gull  -  Poland (White) TY43  -  Antrim Baptist Church, Co. Antrim  (16 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as an Un-sexed 2nd Calendar year, on the 9th February 2012, at Olsztyn, NE Poland))


      Ringing Details Received       
With Adam not responding to emails, I've had a long battle trying to obtain ringing details for gulls and terns, spotted by both myself and Cameron Moore.  Some sightings, were re-submitted to the BTO, citing no responce from ringer.  Altogether, these included 5 of Adam's Black-headed Gulls from his NI Study, and 2 Sandwich Terns.

During last week, two ringing recoveries, were forwarded by the BTO, and I thought the others would quickly follow.  As yet, I'm still waiting on these.  Strange, when you can get replies from other countries, within a couple of days of reporting.

The details, I did get from the BTO, both concerned Black-headed Gulls.  The first, was for one of the two Black-headed Gulls, that I spotted in June, at Castle Espie, in County Down.  I'm still waiting on something for the gull.  The second recovery, was for a bird spotted in August at Whitehouse Lagoon, which I happened to re-sight again on Tuesday this week (17th October), at Kinnegar Beach in County Down.

Again, as Adam is not responding to sightings of his birds, I'm not able to obtain PDF files, showing each birds re-sighting history.  I therefore, have no idea, whether these are first sightings or not.

Black-headed Gull  -    2APB  
Spotted on the 2nd June 2017 (Blog), at Castle Espie, in County Down,   2APB  (Photo), was actually ringed here as a chick on the 15th June 2015.  It was hard to tell, if   2APB , was breeding, though it was in a very defensive mode and some nests were situated close by.  Castle Espie, is very interesting, as the gulls here are so used to people, it's actually possible to come within feet of several nests.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AFP 
Spotted on the 27th August 2017 (Blog), at Whitehouse Lagoon, on the edge of Belfast,   2AFP  (Photo), was ringed as a chick on the 19th June 2013, on Mew Island.  Mew, is part of the Copeland Islands, in County Down, situated 26 kms / 16 miles, to the east-north-east of Whitehouse Lagoon.  I made my second sighting of   2AFP , this week (Tuesday 17th October), spotting it on Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, County Down.  Kinnegar, is on the southern side of Belfast Lough, whereas, Whitehouse Lagoon, is on the northern side.  In my next post, I'll be reporting on my latest visit to County Down (17th Oct), which will include my latest sighting of   2AFP .

Should anyone, who reads this blog and has reported either of the above mentioned Black-headed Gulls to Adam, please could you send me copies of their PDF files, so that I can add any re-sighting history to my spreadsheet.  In return, I'll send a copy of the spreadsheet, which contains all ring sightings for a number of species.  Thank you.


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