Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Double Delight...

      Antrim Marina - Sunday 22nd October 2017       
On my last visit to Antrim Marina (Monday 16th October), there was a very poor showing by the Black-headed Gulls.  With ex-hurricane Ophelia, due to hit later in the day, I had decided to postpone my normal Sunday visit, thinking more gulls would be present on the Monday.  Not only, was there a lack of gulls, but the local Council, had decided to shut the whole area down at mid-day.

During that visit, I had hoped to see the return of   2AAR  and possibly   2ADV .  Today, the 12th of my weekly 'Winter Visits', did see the return of both gulls.  Having arrived at Antrim Marina, around 09.05am,   2AAR , was my fourth sighting (09.10), and   2ADV , was the eigth gull spotted at 09.28.  I was delighted, to see both birds back again.  Although   2AAR , is known to breed in Poland, the breeding site of   2ADV , is still unknown.  I've added tables below, showing the first and last sighting dates for each bird, every winter.

My 'Winter List', now increases the total, to 22 'colour-ringed' BHGs.  I had hoped to record 29 'colour-ringed' BHGs, but I reckon, I will fall short of the target.  Three birds, which should have been spotted in August, have still failed to show up.    2AAH  and   2ANS , are both considered as residents, along with   2AAD  (winter visitor), have more than likely perished.

  2ALH , which bred here in the summer of 2016, remaining at the Marina, until September 2016, has not been spotted since last December, at it's wintering quarters in Bangor, County Down.  I had wondered if it bred here again this summer, but there has been no sign of it, therefore missing being sighted on the winter list.  Just this week, I attempted to locate   2ALH , at Ward Park, in Bangor, without success.

  2ADD , which breeds here and winter's in Carrickfergus, has not been seen at the Marina, since June.  If still alive,   2ADD , should return by March 2018 - my 'Winter List', ends on the last Sunday in that month.  Despite, a few efforts by me to locate   2ADD , this winter in Carrickfergus, I have not found him as yet.

Four of the above gulls (not including   2ALH ), would take the overall total to 26.  This now leaves three gulls, which are   2AFD ,   2BRC  and   2BRD   2AFD , as we know, likely breeds in Latvia, where it has been spotted in the past.  Going by it's re-sighting history at Antrim Marina, it should be the next to return.  I would expect to see it here by the 5th or 12th November.

Both   2BRC  and   2BRD , are in-frequent 'winter visitors'.  Last winter, they were sighted less often, than the winter before and may appear at the Marina, anytime, from November onwards.    2BRD , has been sighted on a few occasions at Lurgan Park, Co. Armagh, by Suzanne Belshaw - the last of those sightings having been made on 26th June 2017.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AAR   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (22 Oct 2017)

Table Below Shows First and Last Sighting Dates of   2AAR  each Winter
(The 11th April 2013 Record, was at a Breeding Colony)
21 Dec 2012Ringed as an Adult Male by Adam McClureAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
12 Mar 2013Ring Read by Keith StevensAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
05 Apr 2013Ring Read by Artur BladPomorskie, Gdańsk-Kowale, Poland - 1592km.
11 Apr 2013Ring Read by Michal PolakowskiPodlaskie, Hryniewicze, Poland - 1919km.
20 Oct 2013Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
09 Mar 2014Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
17 Oct 2014Ring Read by Adam McClureAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
15 Mar 2015Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
11 Oct 2015Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
15 Mar 2016Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
16 Oct 2016Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
05 Mar 2017Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
22 Oct 2017Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ADV   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (22 Oct 2017)

Table below Shows First and Last Sighting Dates of   2ADV  each Winter
16 Dec 2013Ringed as an Adult Male by Adam McClureAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
22 Dec 2013Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
02 Feb 2014Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland
12 Oct 2014Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland
15 Feb 2015Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
04 Oct 2015Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
31 Jan 2016Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
16 Oct 2016Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
22 Jan 2017Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.
22 Oct 2017Ring Read by Gareth PlattAntrim Marina, Antrim Town, Northern Ireland.

With   2AAR  and   2ADV , increasing the 'Winter List' to 22 'colour-ringed BHGs, all were re-sighted today, with the exception of the Lithuanian (White) T35J.  This is the third week running, that T35J, has been absent, but this habit has been noted during previous winters.

Despite, the wet an windy conditions last night, caused by Storm Brian, there were plenty of gulls at the Marina, this morning.  All through my visit, at least 100+, BHGs were present throughout and likely surpassed the 150 mark on occasions.  I'm still hand feeding birds at the car window, gaining their confidence.

I have had no reply from the BTO, about my request to use some of the 'Blue Darvic's'.  Although, intended for use on Common Gulls, I was hoping they would allow me to use the Blue 2C** series on Black-headed Gulls.  I sent the email on the 3rd October, but could do with a reply shortly, as the gulls will be really easy to catch in December and January.  By this time, they will be very hungry and I could do with replacing some of those gulls which have been lost.

Black-headed Gulls Spotted at Antrim Marina on Sunday 22nd October 2017
 2BRA   2ABF   2AAA   2AAR   2CJT   2ABN   2ADJ 
 2ADV   2AAF   2AAT   2AAK   2AAN   2AAC   2ACV 
 2AAV   2AAP   2AAB   2ABK   2ABL   2ABA   2ABS 

The Only Absentee

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
Mallards, at last, one has appeared with a ring.    5MN 1156 , was last seen here, on the 12th February 2017.  The gun clubs, in County Monaghan, in the Republic of Ireland, annually purchase ducklings from a duck farm.  These are reared to the fledging stage and then released into the wild.  The idea behind this, is that it replaces birds which are shot, by members of the 16 clubs.  Prior to release, these birds are tagged, with rings unique to the club.

  5MN 1156 , was ringed around mid June 2015, and was released at Doohat Lake, in County Monaghan.  My first of now, 9 sightings, here at the Marina, was on the 16th February 2016.

Mallard numbers today were quite good.  Around 40 birds, present on my arrival, swelled in numbers to the 70 mark, as the morning progressed.

Mallard  -    5MN 1156   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (22 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as a juvenile before release, in mid June 2015, at Doohat Lake, Co. Monaghan)

A Lesser Black-backed Gull, present on my arrival, remained until about 30 minutes, before I departed at 1pm.  The near adult Herring Gull, which has appeared in recent weeks, arrived at 10.38.  After this, I witnessed interesting behaviour, as it and the LBB Gull, appeared to go through courtship behaviour.  This continued, throughout the morning, except when raiding other gulls for bread, that was being fed to the ducks.  These two, spent most of their time on the low wooden jetty, head bowing, calling and walking around each other in circles.

Two juvenile Herring Gulls, arrived at 09.50 and 10.40, both of which were still present at 1pm.  Two adult Common Gulls, would come and go, but appeared to be the same two birds each time.  Again, no sign of the Scottish-rung bird.  Having predicted it's return to the Marina, I have not seen this gull now, since the 25th September.

4 adult Mute Swans, along with 2 cygnets, were on the sliway when I arrived.  None of these were ringed, and the adults were not the parents of the cygnets.  A further three adults, swam in from the Lough, at 10.22, but when they exited onto the slipway, none of these were ringed either.  Then, a 3rd cygnet, arrived from up-river at 10.25.

All three youngsters readily took bread from my hand, indicating that they belonged to the original family of 5 young.  Three of the adults and one of the cygnets, flew out to the Lough, just after mid-day.

6 Hooded Crows, included the bird that feeds from my hand at the car window.  13 Jackdaws, 2 Magpies and a single Pied Wagtail, were the only other birds, to be noted.

Antrim's Elim Church, KFC and Baptist Church
On leaving the Marina, I checked the Elim Church at Parkhall, Antrim's KFC outlet and Antrim Baptist Church.  I had three new sightings of 'ringed' Black-headed Gulls, one at each site, during my previous visit on Monday 16th October.  Despite, a good number of gulls at all three sites today, no rings were spotted.


      County Down - Tuesday 17th October 2017       
A trip to County Down on Tuesday 17th October, produced 8 ring sightings, three of which were new to me.  Starting off at Victoria Park in Belfast, I checked sites all along the east coast of the county.  By the time I got to Groomsport, Donaghadee, Millisle and Portavogie, the tide was fully out, and though there were plenty of gulls about, most birds were too far out, to even try looking for rings.

Millisle, both north and south beaches, was particularly surprising, as hundreds of gulls were present - the most I've ever seen here.  Portavogie Harbour, though, was disappointing.  Normally, a site for lots of Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, it was almost void of birds, but this was probably due to the low tide.  If I can, I will re-visit the east County Down coast, after my visit to Antrim Marina.  The tide should be more favourable on Sunday.

Victoria Park, Belfast
50 to 60 Black-headed Gulls, were present, along with a few Herring Gulls and a small group of Black-tailed Godwits.  Scoping what legs I could, no rings were spotted.  Hoping back into the car, I parked in a more open area of the car park and started throwing out bits of bread.

Soon, I had around 30 BHGs, 2 juvenile Herring Gulls, a few Rooks and Jackdaws and loads of ferel pigeons around me.  Only a single ring was spotted, this being on a 'metal' on a Black-headed Gull.

Victoria Park, is a problem site, due to dog walkers and today was no exception.  Trying to get photos of the gull's ring was near impossible, the bird itself, eventually flew off and was not seen again.  All I had, was a partial number, reading   EY981** .

Later at home, I checked my spreadsheet and the BHG, is most likely to be   EY98138 .  If so, it is my third sighting of this gull, having recorded it on Christmas Day in both 2015 and 2016.  Christmas Day, is a good time to visit Victoria Park and the nearby Connswater Shopping Centre, as folk tend to remain at home and I can get some peace and quite, when 'reading rings'.

On 25th December 2015, I only got a partial number on this, a juvenile gull, and was missing the second letter.  On a later date, I tried the BTO, 'with tongue in cheek', to see whether they could still generate a ringing recovery, which they did.    EY98138 , was ringed as a chick, on the 18th June 2015, at Saltholme, Stockton-on-Tees, in England.

Last Christmas Day (2016), I had no problem, reading it's ring, as I managed enough photos to obtain the full number.  In the past, I've also recorded a couple of Adam's 'colour-ringed' BHGs here, as well as a Dutch bird with a 'White Darvic' and one from Iceland, which is 'metal-ringed'.  There was no sign of those birds today.

Usually, there are a number of Greylag Geese here, some of which are 'colour-ringed'.  For some reason, not one of these birds were spotted during my visit.   

Black-headed Gull  -    EY981**   -  Victoria Park, Belfast  (17 Oct 2017)

Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, Co. Down
Moving a short distance, up the road, my next stop was at Kinnegar Beach, in Holywood.  Plenty of gulls and Oystercatchers, with smaller numbers of other waders, were starting to gather, as the tide was going out.

Six rings were spotted here.  I had no chance of reading three of these, which were 'metals', on a Common Gull, a BHG and an Oystercatcher.  The other three birds, had 'colour-rings' - 2 BHGs from Adam's NI Study and a Sandwich Tern.

The first to be spotted, was   2AJC , and this is my second sighting of the gull here, having previously recorded it on the 22nd December 2016.  Ringed as a chick on the 19th June 2014, at Castle Espie, in County Down, it frequents the nearby RSPB Reserve on the Belfast Industrial Estate.  Sightings there, were made in March 2015 and March 2016, by other observers.  Whether it actually breeds on the Reserve is debateable - as far as I know, it has never been spotted there during the months of April, May or June.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AJC   -  Kinnegar Beach, Co. Down  (17 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 19th June 2014, at Castle Espie, Co. Down)

A Sandwich Tern, nestling in between a group of BHGs, bore a 'yellow-ring'.  Checking on the couple of photos that I took, it looked as if the code was unreadable.  Returning home, I checked the pictures on my laptop, to find that I could just about read -   KCJ .  This was another of Tony Murray's birds, having been ringed as a chick, at Lady's Island Lake, in County Wexford, on the 21st June 2017.

This is the third youngster, ringed on that date and from the same colony, which has now been sighted on Belfast Lough.  Not long ago, Cameron Moore, had   KBS  and   KBT , at Whitehead, which is situated on the northern shore of the Lough.  A couple of other Sandwich Terns and Common Terns, were also seen on the beach, which is surprising, seeing as we are late into October.  A few Sandwich Terns, are known to winter on the shores of Northern Ireland.

My thanks to Tony, for his superfast reply, to my sighting.

Sandwich Tern  -    KCJ   -  Kinnegar Beach, Co. Down  (17 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 21st June 2017, at Lady's Island Lake, Co. Wexford)

Black-headed Gull -   2AFP , was the third colour-ringed bird, to be spotted on Kinnegar Beach.  My first sighting of this gull, was made a couple of months ago, when I spotted it at Whitehouse Lagoon, on the 27th August.  It was only last week, that I received the ringing details for this bird from the BTO.  Ringed as a chick, on the 19th June 2013, on the Copeland Islands (Mew Island), I would be glad to hear from anyone, who has spotted this gull.  More can be read about   2AFP , in my previous post.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AFP   -  Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, Co. Down  (17 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 19th June 2013, on Mew Island, Copelands, Co. Down)

Bangor and Ballyholme
My first stop in Bangor, was at Ward Park.  I was on the lookout for   2ALH , a small female BHG, which bred in the Antrim Marina area in 2016 and is known to winter here.  I last spotted   2ALH , on the 24th December 2016, at Ward Park, but she was not seen this summer at Antrim.  I would still like to spot   2ALH  again, at least I'll know she's alive.

When I arrived, some people were already feeding the gulls and ducks with bread, but there was no sign of   2ALH .  Over 100, dis-interested BHGs, were perched on the rooftop of the college, just across the road from Ward Park.  Although, most were lying down, perhaps my gull was among them.

Along the seafront of Bangor and Ballyholme, there were plenty of gulls, mostly Herring and Black-headed's.  One ring was spotted on a Black-headed Gull, a bird from Adam's Study.  Although, it was a new sighting for me, this bird -   2ABT , has been mostly sighted around Ballyholme Yacht Club, where I saw it today.    2ABT , has been known, to visit Sandy Bay, in Larne - 22 kms / 14 miles, to the north-west.

As far as I'm aware,   2ABT , was last spotted at Sandy Bay, in March 2017, which indicates, that it may possibly have bred on one of the islands in Larne Lough.  Previous sightings there, back in April and June 2013, would add strength to this.  Although, the gull was sighted at Ballyholme, on the 28th June 2014, it may have completed it's breeding attempt that year, returning early for the winter.

  2ABT , was ringed as an un-sexed adult, at Ballyholme, on the 24th January 2013.  Despite, loads of people in the area during my visit to this stretch of coast, at least I got enough peace and quite for a few minutes, to take a few photos.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ABT   -  Ballyholme, Co. Down  (17 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as an un-sexed Adult, on the 24th January 2013, at Ballyholme, Co. Down)

Despite a good number of gulls around the Groomsport area, most were resting on Cockle Island, situated at the entrance to the harbour.  Only a handful of Black-headed and Herring Gulls, were lured to the car with bread, none of which were ringed.  I usually, encounter a couple of 'metal-ringed' Common Gulls, at this site and would be keen to re-sight one here, which was ringed in 2003 - perhaps next time!

I've had a bit of success in the past, reading rings on a few Black-headed Gulls at Donaghadee.  The only one spotted today, was my 5th sighting of a 'metal-ringed' bird -    EX97264 .  My last sighting, was at the Community Centre car park, on the 14th July 2017.

My initial sighting, on the 5th March 2016, was on the slipway, to the north side of the town, the same spot where I got the gull today.    EX97264 , was ringed as a chick, on the 19th June 2013, 6kms away, at Mew Island, part of the Copeland Islands.

Despite, a long search, around the coast at Donaghadee, no other ringed gulls were found. 

Black-headed Gull  -    EX97264   -  Donaghadee, Co. Down  (17 Oct 2017
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 19th June 2013, on Mew Island (Copelands), Co. Down)

Millisle, County Down
Approaching Millisle, I noticed hundreds of gulls on the beach, just to the north of the village.  I've never seen as many here before, but the tide fully out, so it was not easy, trying to scope legs.  I did however, spot two 'colour-ringed' birds, which were a fair distance away.  Returning to the car, to get my camera, I then took several photos, but I was not holding my breath, for any success.  Checking the pictures, I was delighted to have captured the codes, on both birds.

Just barely readable, I knew straight away, that Common Gull -   2HSC , was a new sighting for me.  As I now hold, the ringing details of these gulls, which came from Shane Wolsey's former Study, I'm fairly certain, that this was a first ever sighting.

  2HSC , was ringed as a chick, on the nearby Copeland Islands, on the 11th June 2012.  Now 5 years, 4 months and 6 days, since being ringed, this one shows, that there are others out there, still to be discovered.

Common Gull  -    2HSC   -  Millisle (north), Co. Down  (17 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 11th June 2012, on the Copeland Islands)

The second 'colour-ringed' bird, was a Herring Gull -    1K:W , a bird which I first encountered at Donaghadee, on the 4th February 2017.  Donaghadee, it just a couple of miles to the north of Millisle, and Suzanne Belshaw, also spotted   1K:W  there, on the 31st August 2015.

Ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 6th May 2015,   1K:W , is from a fairly new project, on the nearby Copeland Islands.

Herring Gull  -    1K:W   -  Millisle (north), Co. Down  (17 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as an un-sexed Adult, on the 6th May 2015, on the Copeland Islands)

At the south beach, in Millisle, I scoped several 'ringed' Common Gulls.  Some of them, had 'metals', while others had 'colour-rings'.  A couple of these were 'Blue', but one 'Yellow Darvic', was very probably   2BBC , although I've spotted a Scottish Common Gull here, on each of the two previous winters, also with a 'Yellow Ring'.

All the gulls, were too far out, to read the rings and even my camera, would not get those ones.  The two 'footless' Common Gulls - 'Stumps' and Stumps 2', were scoped - within feet of each other.  I have a partial 'metal' number for 'Stumps' and 'Stumps 2' is un-ringed.  Again, these two, were too far out, to obtain a decent photograph.

Portavogie Harbour
Time was getting on and it was nearing dark.  I raced down, to the fishing village of Portavogie, which usually has good numbers of both Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls.  On my arrival, I was bewildered to discover, a near total absence of gulls.  Perhaps, with the tide being so low, they were all away feeding.


      Saturday 21st October 2017       
This afternoon, I headed north, visiting the north coast towns of Ballycastle, Portrush and Coleraine.  A number of gulls were checked for rings, at each site, with just two spotted.  These were on Black-headed Gulls, on the jetty, at Strand Road, in Coleraine.

The first of them, was   2E18 .  Ringed as a chick on the 24th June 2014, this is the third winter running, that   2E18 , has been spotted at the jetty.  My ringing trainer, John Clarke, reported the return of   2E18 , on the 9th September 2017.  The first ever sighting of   2E18 , was made by me, on the 26th December 2015, here at the jetty. 

Black-headed Gull  -    2E18   -  Strand Road Jetty, Coleraine  (21 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 24th June 2014, at Elvanfoot, South Lanarkshire, Scotland)

The second Black-headed Gull, was another new sighting for me, of a bird from Adam McClure's - Northern Ireland Study.  As Adam, is not responding to emails, I reported   2CCP , directly to the British Trust for Ornithology.

An unusually quick reply, arrived on Monday afternoon.    2CCP , was ringed as a chick, on the 24th June 2016, at Castle Espie, in County Down.  It has travelled 91 kms / 56 miles, north-west, to reach Coleraine.  Now, 1 year, 3 months and 27 days, since being ringed, I'm guessing that this is a first sighting.

On the 30th December 2016, I spotted another Castle Espie bird here, which had been ringed on the same date as   2CCP , this one being   2CAR .  

Black-headed Gull  -    2CCP   -  Strand Road Jetty, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry  (21 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 24th June 2016, at Castle Espie, Co. Down)


      Sunday 22nd October 2017       
Leaving the Antrim area, on completion of my weekly visit to the Marina, I drove to County Down, with a quick stop at Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast, on the way south.

Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast
Arriving at Whitehouse Lagoon, very little of the mudflats were exposed, as the tide was starting to ebb.  Very few gulls were present,  but I made my second sighting this winter, of the Polish Black-headed Gull (White) T56W.  I recorded the return of this gull, two months ago, on the 22nd August 2017.  This is now the fourth winter, that T56W, has been sighted here.

Black-headed Gull  -  (White)  T56W  -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast  (22 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as an un-sexed Adult, on the 16th June 2012, at the Odra Reservoir, Poland)

Millisle, County Down
Where have all the gulls gone?  During my previous visit to Millisle, five days ago (17th October), there were hundreds of gulls on both the north and south beaches.  This afternoon, there were only a handful of birds on either beach.  What was worse, was one of the two car parks, facing the south beach, was closed.  This is where, I can usually attract many birds to the car with bread.

I was therefore forced to use the other car park, which turned out, to be less than ideal, as it had to accommodate extra vehicles.  Here, I found two 'metal-ringed' gulls, both of which had 'upside-down' rings.  However, despite my efforts to photograph both rings, the gulls quickly took exception to the amount of disturbance from dog walkers and cars, and flew off.

Checking on the photos that I did get, I only had 'partials' on both a Common and Black-headed Gull.  On the Common Gull, I obtained the last three digits, so the ring read -   E***730 .  On returning home, I checked my spreadsheet, and obtained a match for the final three digits.  My gull today is most likely to be   EW51730 .  If so, this is my second record of this bird, having recorded it on the 30th July 2017.    EW51730 , was ringed as a chick, on the nearby Copeland Islands, on the 23rd June 2009.

Common Gull  -    E***730   (Upside-down)  -  Millisle, Co. Down  (22 Oct 2017)

I have found it rare, to find 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gulls at Millisle, so rare, that to my recollection, I've only recorded one previously.  This was on the 30th July 2017, in the same car park, as today's bird.  I assumed, that today's gull was that very bird, until I checked my spreadsheet after returning home.  These turned out to be two different gulls.

The July sighting, was rung   EG55708   on a ring, placed the right way up.  The gull I had now, was rung   EG556**   (Upside-down) - a new sighting.  On conducting a search on my spreadsheet, the only other   EG556 , ring recorded, was   EG55652   (also Upside-down), on a Common Gull, which had been ringed as a chick in June 2006.  Once again, disturbance by people, has cost me another new bird.

Black-headed Gull  -    EG556**   (Upside-down)  -  Millisle, Co. Down  (22 Oct 2017)

Ballywalter, Co. Down
At Ballywalter, I found plenty of gulls, of all Northern Ireland species, except for 'Meds'.  As the tide, was now well on the way out, lots of birds were starting to arrive onto the beach, many from distant rocks.

Although, spending a lot of time at Ballywalter, I only spotted a single 'colour-ringed' gull.    2AVB , a first sighting for me, of a BHG, from Adam's - Northern Ireland Study, was seen having a wash on the freshwater stream that flows across the beach.  The ringing details for this gull, also arrived from the BTO, on Monday.

  2AVB , was ringed as a chick, on the 22nd June 2014, on Mew Island, which is part of the Copeland Islands, 15 kms / 9 miles, to the north of Ballywalter.  Again, I think this could well be a first sighting, the duration now being 3 years, 4 months, since ringing.  At least, I got one new sighting today.

I also spent a bit of time searching for my oldest BHG, without any joy.  My last sighting of the 19 year old, was back in July.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AVB   -  Ballywalter, Co. Down  (22 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 22nd June 2014, on Mew Island (Copelands), Co. Down

Portavogie, County Down
My final stop of the afternoon, was at Portavogie's Harbour.  Once again, there were very few large gulls around.  It took, just 15 minutes, checking for rings, but I got nothing here.


I have been on the waiting list for a Inguinal Hernia, operation since January 2016.  Tomorrow, Thursday 26th October, I shall be attending the Day Surgery at Antrim Area Hospital, to have this repaired.

Since last year, the hernia has steadily enlarged, to such an extent, I got to a stage where I could not walk long distances.  This had a major effect during the past summer, which meant that I was unable to undertake much Raptor Survey work.  The pain caused by my intestines, moving in and out, was quite unbearable at times.

After the operation, I shall be off my feet for a few weeks and certainly cannot drive a car.  This will have an effect on the amount of 'Ring Reading', that I can do, and a couple of weekly visits to Antrim Marina, might be missed.  Suzanne Belshaw, has offered to carry out a visit there for me, on Monday October 30th.

My night shift manager at work, has told me to take my time in recovery and return to work on the 1st January 2018.  I will be able to spend a good number of days out in the field during late November and through December.  Once I'm fairly mobile, my sister Heather, will drive for me.

Although, my blog will be quieter, I will continue to post any news, etc.


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