Thursday, 12 October 2017

Oystercatcher Returns...

      Antrim Marina - Sunday 8th October 2017       
I arrived at Antrim Marina, finding weather conditions much milder than that experienced on my previous visit here (Monday 2nd October).  It was quite warm, with a cloudy sky and a slight westerly breeze, blowing in from the Lough.

With the addition of   2AAV , on Monday, my autumn/winter list of colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls, increased to 20 birds.  As it was so mild today, there was a big drop in gull numbers present, although the maximum number at one point, did reach the 100+ mark.  I reckon, the overall turnover, of gulls coming and going, would have been much lower, involving 100 to 150 birds.

Despite the calm conditions, the total of colour-ringed gulls re-sighted, reached 17, by my normal departure time at 1pm.  With, just 3 gulls to be accounted for, I decided to stay on, eventually leaving around 2pm.  The total increased to 19, when   2ABF  (13.18) and   2AAA  (13.31), were spotted, leaving the Lithuanian (White) T35J, as being the only absentee.

There also appeared to be a big drop, in the number of juvenile, Black-headed Gulls present.  I noticed one little youngster, on the small sandy beach area, looking as if it was about to 'kick the bucket'.  Standing on it's own, all puffed up, it seemed to be in poor condition.

This coming weekend, should see the arrival of   2AAR , which we know breeds in Poland, and possibly   2ADV , the breeding site of this gull is still unknown.  The wind direction throughout the week, would not favour gulls flying in from Europe, as we have experienced strong westerly winds.  The weather forcast for the coming weekend, is not good either.

On Monday, storm force winds, are expected, with a weather warning out for structual damage.  I'm pondering on the idea, of undertaking my next visit then, as I know, there would be a large number of gulls, taking shelter at the Marina. 

Black-headed Gulls Spotted at Antrim Marina - Sunday 8th October 2017
 2AAN   2AAF   2AAT   2ABK   2AAC   2AAK   2ABL   2BRA   2ADJ   2ABS 
 2AAP   2CJT   2ACV   2AAV   2AAB   2ABN   2ABA   2ABF   2AAA    

The Only Absentee

Black-headed Gull  -    2ADJ   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (08 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as an un-sexed Juvenile, on the 12th November 2012, at Antrim Marina)

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
The family party of Mute Swans (Pair, plus 5 cygnets), has finally broken up.  Not a single swan, was to be seen, when I arrived at the Marina, around 09.10, this morning.  At 09.50, two cygnets, followed closely by an adult, swam in from the Lough.  The adult though, turned out to be   W34158 , and is not a parent of the cygnets.

The other three cygnets, each arrived on their own, at 10.00, 10.29 and 12.34.  With all five, easily coming to my hand for bread, I knew they were the original youngsters.  Their mother, did appear, at 13.15.  As the father of the youngsters, was not present,   W34158 , spent most of his time, bullying the cygnets.

Just after, 1.30pm, a further three adults, approached the Marina from the Lough, but   W34158 , chased them back towards the Lough.

Mallard numbers, were similar to Monday's visit, with around 70 to 80 birds, at max.  Still no rings on any of these.

Only a single adult Common Gull, was spotted and I'm pretty certain, this was the same bird, which kept coming and going, throughout the morning.  A near adult Herring Gull, arrived at 11.09, and was probably the same gull which appeared for the first time here, on Monday past.   

Herring Gull  -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (08 Oct 2017)

Other species recorded during my visit, were, 3 Hooded Crows (which included the bird, which now feeds from my hand at the car window), 2 Magpie's (adult and juvenile), 11 Jackdaws, 2 Grey Wagtail's and a single Pied Wagtail.

Antrim's KFC Outlet
I carried out, was is now a routine visit, to the car park at Antrim's KFC outlet.  Just 13, Black-headed Gulls, were present, but the Norwegian-rung bird was not here today.


      Saturday 7th October 2017       
Due to other commitments, I did not get out until late on Saturday afternoon and therefore decided to cover the east County Antrim coast, starting at Carnlough and finishing at Sandy Bay, in Larne.

Three ringed birds were spotted.  Two of these, bore 'metal-rings', which I had no chance of reading.  One was a Common Gull at Glenarm and the other, a Shag, at Drain's Bay.  Of interest, was the number of Common Gulls at Glenarm, whose numbers were the highest I've ever seen here.  Although, not a favourite site for this species, around 30 birds were present, which included a high number of juveniles.

The third, ringed bird, was the re-sighting of an Oystercatcher, bearing 'colour-rings'.  Spotted on the beach at Carnlough, this was the same bird, which wintered here, during 2016/2017.

Ringed as a breeding adult, on the 10th May 2016, in Iceland, I first spotted it on the 10th August 2016, with my final sighting being made on the 24th February 2017.  I reported my sighting to the Icelandic Wader Group, but they have not updated their database, so any summer sightings, have not been added.  The Group, will send me an updated file, at a later date.

Oystercatcher  -    |   (White AA)  -  Carnlough Bay, Co. Antrim  (07 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as an un-sexed Breeding Adult, on 10th May 2016, in Iceland)


      Sunday 8th October 2017       
Having completed my visit to the Antrim area, I drove on down to Belfast.  Starting at Whitehouse Lagoon, I moved up the coast to Carrickfergus, finishing with visits to the harbour and leisure centre.

Checking plenty of gulls and waders for rings, I only re-sighted two birds, which were both 'colour-ringed'.  The first of these, was the Icelandic-rung Oystercatcher, at Whitehouse Lagoon.  Ringed as a breeding adult, in June 2015, today's sighting was the third this winter, having arrived back here, on the 22nd August 2017.

Oystercatcher  -  Green/White - Green flag/Black  -  Whitehouse Lagoon  (08 Oct 2017)
(Ringed as an un-sexed Breeding Adult, on the 5th June 2015, in Iceland)
(Green flag, is missing)

The second 'colour-ringed' bird re-sighted, was the juvenile Black-headed Gull - 2CPN, on the Whiteabbey shoreline.  My previous sighting, was on the 24th September 2017, also at Whiteabbey (Photo).  Having reported my initial sighting to Adam McClure and getting no response, I have now reported it to the BTO and should get the ringing details in the near future.


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