Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Med Resighted...

      Antrim Marina - Sunday 26th November 2017       
Today's visit to Antrim Marina, marked the half way point, of this, my 5th winter recording the gulls here.  The weather was quite mild, though a little chilly.  With around 100 Black-headed Gulls present on my arrival, numbers quickly reached the 150 mark.  21 'colour-ringed' BHGs, were recorded within the first 45 minutes of my visit.  With the three additions, that were ringed last Sunday, I was on the lookout for 27 gulls altogether.

 2AFD  at 10.43,   2ADV  at 12.14 and   2AAV  at 12.31, took the overall total to 24, with three gulls not appearing.  My most noticeable sighting was that of   2ANS , which I haven't seen since the 25th June.    2ANS , did have the cheek, to appear on the one weekend, that I couldn't make it to the Marina.  Suzanne Belshaw, spotted it, while covering in my absence.

I spotted a gull behind my car, which appeared to be   2BRD .  It flew off as I got out of the car with my camera.  Despite a pro-longed search, I could not locate it again.  As I was not a hundred per-cent sure, I did not include it on the total.  If it is back, perhaps I'll spot it next week.    2BRD , is one of the three gull's, which I am waiting on, to make a return.

  2AAF , is causing me some concern.  One of those birds, that's always under your feet, it was absent for the third week in a row.  When I last saw it, the gull had an injured leg and was not looking too good.

Another gull, that was not looking too good today, was a juvenile.  Injured, on both shoulders and a large gash in its crop, it had obviously managed to escape the clutches of a hawk or buzzard.  It was able to gulp down bread, which I threw in it's direction, but I don't think it will survive.  On the plus side, it is still capable of flying (Photo below).

Another two Black-headed Gulls were caught and ringed today.  The first was a juvenile and the second, was a second winter bird.  A total of 5 BHGs, have now been ringed over the last two weeks.  Next week, I'll be on the lookout for 29 'colour-ringed' gulls, with three others still to return this winter.  A further two gulls,  2AAD  and   2AAH , have more than likely perished.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ANS   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (26 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as a 1st Winter bird, on the 12th November 2015, at Antrim Marina)

Black-headed Gull  -    2CSC   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (26 Nov 2017)
(Ringed at Antrim Marina, on the 19th November 2017)

Black-headed Gull  -    2AFD   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (26 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 12th February 2014, at Antrim Marina)

(Juvenile/1st Winter) Black-headed Gull  -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (26 Nov 2017)
(Suffering from the likely attack of a Hawk or Buzzard) 

Colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls at Antrim Marina  -  Sunday 26th November 2017
 2ABN   2ABS   2AAC   2ABK   2CSC   2AAP   2ADJ   2CJT 
 2CSA   2CSB   2ACV   2AAT   2BRA   2AAN   2AAB   T35J 
 2AAK   2ANS   2ABF   2AAR   2AAA   2AFD   2ADV   2AAV 

Today's Absentees
 2ABA   2AAF   2ABL 

Other Species at Antrim Marina
There was an increase in the number of Common Gulls this week, with a maximum of 5 birds.  Once again, there is still no sign of the small Scottish-rung female.

A Herring Gull present on my arrival, sort of looked like a Ring-billed Gull.  I had to email photos, for a second opinion, just in case, and it was a bit of wishful thinking on my part.  The first reply, said he was 100% sure it was a Ring-billed, but shortly afterwards, retracted from his opinion.  He sent the photo to a 3rd party, who identified it as a Herring Gull.  A Herring Gull, was the opinion, from the second emailer.

The near adult, which has reappeared of late, arrived at 10am this morning and a pale looking juvenile arrived at 10.50.  The near adult remained throughout my visit, but the juvenile moved on about 20 minutes after arriving.

Four adult Mute Swans, plus 2 cygnets, were on the slipway when I arrived.  They remained throughout my visit and no other swans appeared.  One of the swans was a constant pain in the neck.  When trying to catch Black-headed Gulls for ringing, it kept coming to the car window, which hampered catching attempts.  No rings on any of these swans.

Mallard numbers, are still very low, with a maximum of around 40 ducks.  With most birds checked, there were no rings on any of them.

3 Hooded Crows, 8 Jackdaws, 2 Magpies and a pair of Pied Wagtails, were the only other species noted today.

Antrim's Elim Church, KFC and Baptist Church
On leaving the Marina at 1pm, I did my usual rounds at the other sites in Antrim.  Small numbers of gulls were present at all three, but none of the ringed birds, which have been spotted this winter, were present.


      Ringing Details Received       
With Adam, now back online, I have now received all of the PDF files for all of his Black-headed Gulls, which have been spotted.  These included two gulls, spotted at Castle Espie, back in June.  I did receive the ringing details for one of these birds through the BTO, but such recovery details don't tell the full story.

As it turns out, both of the gulls, were ringed as chicks at Castle Espie, one in 2014 and the other in 2015.  What was really interesting, was the fact that these were first ever sightings, of two birds, that had returned to breed.  Adam was well pleased to receive these records.

It's also amazing, that neither of the gulls were reported until I went to this wetland centre.  Lots of birdwatchers visit the site, and it's baffling why none of them saw or reported the gulls.  One reason for this, is that most of the birds are ringed by the centre's staff and know one deems it necessary to report ring sightings.  I must pay a second visit to the centre some time during the winter. 

Black-headed Gull  -    2BKL   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (02 Jun 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 19th June 2014, at Castle Espie Wetland Centre) 

Black-headed Gull  -    2APB   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (02 Jun 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 15th June 2015, at Castle Espie Wetland Centre)

I also received a PDF file, for a juvenile Black-headed Gull, spotted by Cameron Moore back in August.     2CLV , was a first sighting of a chick, ringed in June 2017, at Blue Circle Island on Larne Lough.  The distance from the island to Whitehead, where Cameron saw the youngster, is only 8 kms / 5 miles in a south-easterly direction.  As far as I'm aware, this young gull has not been seen since.

(Juvenile/1st Winter) Black-headed Gull  -    2CLV   -  Whitehead, Co. Antrim  (28 Aug 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 16th June 2017, at Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim)
(Photo Courtesy of Cameron Moore)

A Herring Gull -   R17:M , which I spotted on the rocks opposite Ardglass Harbour, was ringed as a chick, on the Isle of Man, on the 23rd June 2015.  Kevin Scott and the BTO, were both informed of the sighting, but I'm still waiting on a reply from Kevin.  Until this happens, we'll not know of any re-sighting history.  Kevin is notorious, for taking an age to reply, if at all.  The Isle of Man, is a large island in the Irish Sea, situated between Northern Ireland and England.

Herring Gull  -    R17:M   -  Ardglass Harbour, Co. Down  (16 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 23rd June 2015, on the Isle of Man)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the return of a German-rung Black-headed Gull at Carrickfergus - spotted by Cameron Moore.  Adam, caught and 'colour-ringed' this gull during the 2015/16 winter, the code reading   2ANX .  With Adam, now back online, we now know, that   2ANX , was spotted during the summer at a breeding colony in Germany.  Read the story of   2ANX , on Adam's blog (Read Here).


      Thursday 23rd November 2017       
Today, I covered the north coast of County Antrim, moving eastwards and then south, finishing off at Sandy Bay in Larne.  It was a very long journey, made on a bitterly cold day.  I had just finished checking gulls at Ballycastle, when the sky became so black, that the towns street lights activated.  This was around 1.15pm, and the next couple of hours, saw a mixture of rain, sleet and snow.

By the time, that I reached Sandy Bay, the weather settled again and the sun shone once more.  Throughout my trip, many gulls and a few waders were checked for rings, with only four being recorded.  These, were spotted at my first and last stop.  After Glenarm, I was going to call it a day, because of the weather.  I was so glad, that I pushed on to Sandy Bay, where I was in for a treat.

Portrush, Co. Antrim
My target at Portrush, was a Black-headed Gull, rung   EW83177 .  I had spotted this gull, during each of the previous two winters and I wanted to see if it had returned.  Having visited Portrush, on a couple of occasions, over the last few weeks, there was no sign of it.  Arriving at the East Strand car park, 60 to 70 gulls were standing around the almost deserted car park.  Mostly, Herring and Black-headed Gulls, in more or less equal numbers, there were also a handful of Common Gulls.

Parking in a nice open area, I started scoping the gulls and found a Black-headed Gull, with a 'metal-ring'.  Surely, this was my bird, I thought.  Throwing out bits of bread, I soon had most birds around me, including my 'metal'.  A number of photos later, I confirmed the return of   EW83177 .  Today's, was my fifth sighting of this gull.

Ringed as a chick, in June 2010, it is now 7 years, 5 months and 11 days, since   EW83177  was tagged.  The ringing site, was the North Esk Reservoir, in the Scottish Borders, with the distance to Portrush, being 219 kms / 136 miles (WSW).  I was well pleased to see it again, as not only does it prove the gull's loyalty to it's wintering site, but adds to it's longevity record.  Goodness knows, where it goes to breed in the summer, as 'metals' are not easily read.

Black-headed Gull  -    EW83177   -  East Strand Car Park, Portrush, Co. Antrim  (23 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 12th June 2010, at North Esk Reservoir, Borders, Scotland)

Sandy Bay, Larne, Co. Antrim
Arriving at Sandy Bay, the shoreline, was teeming with gulls and waders.  Parking at the side of the road, I got out and had a quick scan with my binoculars.  Within seconds, I spotted two rings.  The first would be easy, as it was a 'colour-ringed' juvenile Black-headed Gull from Adam's Study.  The second ring, a 'metal', was a must get, as it was on a Mediterranean Gull.

With the camera out, I quickly took photos of the juvenile, the code on it's 'colour-ring', read -   2CNB .  Having later reported my sighting to Adam, he replied, sending me a PDF file.  This was a first sighting of   2CNB , since it was ringed as a chick, on the 16th June 2017, at Blue Circle Island on the nearby Larne Lough.

(Juvenile/1st Winter) Black-headed Gull  -    2CNB   -  Sandy Bay, Larne, Co. Antrim  (23 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 16th June 2017, at Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough)

With the juvenile Black-headed Gull, sorted, my attention turned to the Med Gull.  A very feisty bird, it was constantly on the move, and often chased away the BHGs nearby.  It was very hard to follow this one with the camera - trying to zoom into it's 'metal-ring'.  After a while, all the birds took off, as something spooked them.  Returning to the car, I checked through my photos, and realised the gull was from Holland, - I could read Arnhem on the ring.  Knowing, I needed seven digits, I was missing the last three -   3.738.*** .

After a while, the gulls returned, including my Med Gull.  Once again, I concentrated on the 'metal'.  Having now taken around 80 photos, I retreated to the car, and turned on the heater - my hands purple with cold.  Looking through my photos, I was delighted to find, I had the missing digits -   593 .  My thoughts, now went back to last winter, where I had spotted a Dutch Med Gull at Glenarm.

Returning home, I checked the ring number on my spreadsheet and could not believe how lucky I had been.  My efforts, had been justly rewarded with a re-sighting of the same gull.  My previous sighting was made on the 28th November 2016 (Read Here), - almost a year ago.   3.738.593 , was ringed as a chick, on the 20th June 2015, on De Kreupel Island, on Lake IJsselmeer, Holland.

Mediterranean Gull  -  Holland    3.738.593   -  Sandy Bay, Larne, Co. Antrim  (23 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 20th June 2015, at De Kreupel Island, Holland)

I drove on around the corner, to the Larne Harbour end of Sandy Bay.  A small number of Black-headed Gulls, were standing around on the grass verge beside the road.  Throwing bits of bread, onto the road from the car window, the gulls quickly flew over.  Among these, was another of Adam's gulls.   2ABH , is an adult male, which was ringed here, on the 21st January 2013.  This was my fourth sighting of this bird, having initially spotted it here, on the 5th December 2015.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ABH   -  Sandy Bay, Larne, Co. Antrim  (23 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 21st January 2013, at Sandy Bay)


      Monday 27th November 2017       
The forecast for today, was not good, with heavy showers predicted, along with strong north-westerly winds.  With a couple of chores to do down the town, I decided to call into my local park on the way home.

Around 100 Black-headed Gulls were present.  Walking through the gates of the park carrying a loaf, the ever vigilant gulls spotted me from the roof of the Pavilion and flew in my direction.  Around half of the gulls and many pigeons, flocked around me looking for a feed.  Among them, was my second sighting this winter of   2AXV .  This gull, wintered here as a juvenile last winter (23rd October 2016 - 11th March 2017).  It was ringed as a chick, on the 7th June 2016, at Marsh Lane Nature Reserve, in the West Midlands of England. 

Black-headed Gull  -     2AVX   -  The Peoples Park, Ballymena, Co. Antrim  (27 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 7th June 2016, at Marsh Lane NR, West Midlands, England)


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