Wednesday, 15 November 2017

First Whooper...

      Antrim Marina - Sunday 12th November 2017       
With most 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, having returned for the winter, I am now waiting on three birds.    2BRC  and   2BRD , are both infrequent visitors, whilst   2ADD , who winters in Carrickfergus, will not return until the spring.    2ADD , hadn't been sighted since June, despite my recent efforts to locate him at Carrickfergus.  Finally, I found him at Carrick yesterday (14th) and now know, he is still alive and kicking (read below).

The weather, was nice and calm, for today's visit at the Marina.  With a fair bit of sunshine and a light breeze, the conditions suited flies, which were out in large numbers.  Many of the Black-headed Gulls, were seen feeding on the flies, whilst on the wing.  Numbers fluctuated all morning, ranging from 30 to around 150 birds.

20 'colour-ringed' BHGs were spotted today, out of a total of 24, which have been recorded since the start of August.  The most noticeable absentee, was   2AFD , which arrived back last Sunday, from Latvia.

The 'metal-ringed' BHG from North Ronaldsay, in the Orkney Islands, was also absent, having been spotted during the previous two visits.  I had hoped to see the return of an Icelandic BHG, but there was no sign of it either.  'Metal-ringed', as a chick in 2003, it is now due to arrive, so fingers crossed for my next visit.

Colour-ringed BHGs at Antrim Marina  -  Sunday 12th November 2017
 2AAC   2ACV   2AAB   2ADJ   2BRA   2AAV   2ADV   2CJT   2AAR   T35J 
 2AAN   2AAA   2ABL   2AAT   2ABF   2AAK   2ABN   2ABS   2AAP   2ABA 

Today's Absentees
 2ABK   2AAF   2AFD   2ANS 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
The sub-adult Herring Gull, which arrived here a few weeks ago, appeared at 10.15, but only stayed for around 30 minutes.  The only Common Gull, was spotted at 11.30.  This adult, was probably the same bird, which would come and go throughout the remainder of my visit.

3 Mute Swans, plus 2 cygnets, were present when I arrived at 09.30 this morning.  A 4th adult arrived in from the Lough at 10.20, followed by another two at 12.20.  Five minutes later, a cygnet and an adult arrived in, and the adult turned out to be   W34158 , who is not a parent of the cygnet.  The eighth and final adult, appeared at 12.38, again arriving in from the Lough.  None of the other swans were ringed.

Mallard numbers, were lower today and never exceeded 50 birds.  The milder weather, was likely to be the cause, with fewer birds looking for an easy meal.  No rings spotted, though most ducks were checked.

Barring members of the crow family, no other species were spotted.  7 Hooded Crows, 9 Jackdaws and a single Magpie, were today's sightings.

Antrim's Elim Church, KFC and Baptist Church
After leaving the Marina, I checked the other now customary sites, at Antrim's Elim Church, the KFC outlet and Baptist Church.  With Black-headed Gulls present in small numbers at all three, the only ring spotted, was my fourth sighting this winter of the Norwegian -   JK35 .  Despite, all of my weekly visits,   JK35   has only been recorded once each month at KFC, since arriving back in August.

Black-headed Gull  -  Norway    JK35   -  Antrim KFC, Co. Antrim  (12 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 18th June 2014, at Stavanger, Norway)


      Another Returnee       
I usually spend my time, reporting on new and returning 'ringed' birds.  This week saw the return from the wilderness, of another - well, not a bird anyway.

Adam, has broken his silence, citing problems, with his computer and emails.  Offering, his sincere apologies for the absence of any communication, he is now trying to catch up with his Northern Ireland Study.  I am now receiving a steady stream of replies, for gulls that have been sighted, as far back as June.  I will report on these in my next post, under 'Ringing Details Received.

Adam, is also offering the use of his 'Orange Darvic's, so that we can ring some new recruits at Antrim Marina and elsewhere.  This couldn't have come at a better time.  My request to use the 'Blue Darvic's', which I hold, apparently clashes with those used on a Black-headed Gull Study, elsewhere.  My 'Darvic's', were registered for use on Common Gulls only, and the codes are exactly the same for each species.

I'm glad, to see Adam back again.  Despite his absence, I never stopped emailing my sightings, in the continuation of his project.  Long may this continue.


      Tuesday 14th November 2017       
With so little to add to this weeks post, I held back on publication, so that I could get out and find something.  Except for visiting Antrim Marina, I am still a bit on the sore side, since my operation.  The weather, has played a role in this.  Of late, it has been cold and windy and I dare'nt risk catching a cold or the flu.
Today, Tuesday 14th, saw perfect conditions.  Although cloudy, there was hardly a breath of wind and the temperature outside, was good.  I decided, to cover the east coast of County Antrim, starting at Carnlough and then move southwards towards Belfast, before the night set in.  I got as far as Carrickfergus, before the skies darkened and the rain began to fall.

I re-sighted four birds on my travels and recorded two new rings, which included my first Whooper Swan.  A chance meeting with Cameron Moore, at Whitehead, also brought news, about other gull re-sightings.

Carnlough and Glenarm
I was very disappointed, in the lack of gulls and waders, at both villages.  The only ring spotted, was my second sighting this winter, of an the Icelandic Oystercatcher.  Spotted on the 7th October, this is the birds second winter here at Carnlough Bay, since being ringed in May 2016.  

Oystercatcher  -  Iceland  Orange|Orange  /  White (AA)  -  Carnlough Bay, Co. Antrim  (14 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as a Breeding Adult, on the 10th May 2016, at Kjalarnes, Iceland)

Sandy Bay, Larne
Moving, towards Larne, I checked small flocks of gulls and waders, in several places.  The next ring found, was at Sandy Bay, in Larne.  Herring Gull   3T:W , was ringed as a breeding adult, on the 4th May 2015, on the Copeland Islands in County Down.  Sandy Bay, is situated 26 kms / 16 miles (NW), of the Copelands.  Today's, is my third record of   3T:W , at Sandy Bay, having initially spotted the gull on the 5th December 2015.

Herring Gull  -    3T:W   -  Sandy Bay, Larne, Co. Antrim  (14 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as a Breeding Adult, on the 4th May 2015, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)
By the time that I arrived at Glynn, on Larne Lough, the tide was well out.  Again, not many gulls or waders were present, although there was a nice flock of 40+ Whooper Swans.  Had any of the gulls been ringed, they would have been too far out to read.  The Whoopers, however, were mostly lying half way out, on the seaweed.

I knew, they were just reachable with my camera, should any be ringed.  Despite my efforts, trying to find my first 'ringed' Whooper Swan last winter, in Donegal and at Myroe, I was still waiting.  I decided, to wait on this bunch at Glynn, and I was eventually rewarded, by spotting -   ZAF .  No sooner, had I took a few photos, when something spooked the Swans and they all made a dash for the waters of the Lough.

Whooper Swan  -    ZAF   -  Glynn, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim  (14 Nov 2017)
(Waiting on the Ringing Details)

Parked beside the boat club at Whitehead, I had been checking the gulls for about 10 minutes, when Cameron Moore arrived.  We had a lengthy chat, which included the recent sightings of two Norwegian rung BHGs, spotted here at Whitehead.  Although, not sure of the ring numbers, he said he would email the photos to me this evening.  Another Black-headed Gull, which Cameron, was eager to spot again, was the Danish - White 5HA.  As Cameron lives at Whitehead, he checks for rings, practically every day.

Cameron departed, and within 5 minutes, a gull with a White Darvic, landed in the car park, close to my car.  A quick peek through my binoculars, and it was none other than 5HA.  Ringed as an adult male in March 2015, Cameron was the first person to spot the gull, on the 26th November 2016.  I recorded 5HA, on four occasions last winter, with my final sighting being on the 26th February 2017.  Nice to see another returnee, and Cameron could not believe how 'jammie', I was.

Black-headed Gull  -  Denmark  (White)  5HA  -  Whitehead, Co. Antrim (14 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 28th March 2015, at Copenhagen, Denmark)

True to his word, Cameron emailed the photos of the Norwegian-rung Black-headed Gulls, plus one of Adam's Study birds -   2ANX    2ANX , along with   2ADD , were my targets at Carrickfergus, after leaving Whitehead (report below).

The two Norwegian birds were   J896   and   JJ02 .  I came across   JJ02  , at Carrickfergus (also below).    J896 , was recorded on a single occasion last winter, when Cameron and I spotted it on the 4th February.  We got it independently of each other at Whitehead.  Ringed as an adult male in April 2014, at Stavanger, it seems that    J896   is only a visitor to Whitehead, while on passage.

Black-headed Gull  -  Norway    J896   -  Whitehead, Co. Antrim  (12 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 18th April 2014, at Stavanger, Norway)
(Photo Courtesy of Cameron Moore)

On reaching Carrickfergus Harbour, I was on the lookout for Adam's Study birds, especially   2ADD   and   2ANX .  Parking on the harbour wall,   2ADD   was among the gulls, attracted to the bread I threw out.    2ADD , was last seen in June, at Antrim Marina.  Normally, he would spend a week or two, at Antrim's KFC outlet after the breeding season, before moving on to Carrickfergus, where he spends the winter.  It was great to see him again.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ADD   -  Carrickfergus Harbour, Co. Antrim  (14 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 29th November 2013, at Carrickfergus Harbour, Co. Antrim)

My second target was   2ANX , a Black-headed Gull ringed in Germany, in 2008.  Adam, caught the gull in January 2016 and applied the colour-ring.  I never got   2ANX , during my visit to Carrickfergus harbour, but Cameron Moore, happened to call by three-quarters of an hour later and   2ANX  was present.

This is now the fourth winter that this German BHG, has been recorded at Carrickfergus :- 2013/2014, 2015/2016, 2016/2017 and now 2017/2018.

Black-headed Gull  -  Germany    IA114059   /    2ANX   -  Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim  (14 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, 14th May 2008, at Ostvorpommern, Germany)
(Photo Courtesy of Cameron Moore)

Leaving Carrickfergus Harbour, I moved on to Rhanbouy Park, situated on the southern edge of the town.  I first came here a few weeks ago and discovered a good vantage point, with a sea-wall separating Belfast Lough, from the local houses.  On that occasion, it was getting dark, when I spotted a young Black-headed Gull with an Orange Darvic.  This young bird, would have come from Adam's Study, but there was no sign of it today.

Throwing bread over the wall, I attracted a good number of gulls, which included one with a 'Green Darvic'.  A few minutes later, the code was read and photos taken.  Ringed -   JJ02 ,  this was the gull that Cameron had spotted a few days earlier at nearby Whitehead.  I strongly believe, this is the same gull, which I had sighted last winter, just to the south.

Ringed, as an adult female in June 2014, this was it's first reported sighting outside of Norway.

Black-headed Gull  -  Norway    JJ02   -  Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim  (14 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Female, on the 12th June 2014, at Oslo, Norway)


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