Tuesday, 21 November 2017

New Recruits...

      Antrim Marina - Sunday 19th November 2017       
Today, saw mild weather conditions again, with hazy sunshine and just a slight breeze.  Good numbers of Black-headed Gulls, were already present on my arrival.  Numbering, around the 100 mark, more gulls soon arrived, taking the total to around 150 birds.  This total remained constant throughout my four hour visit, though gulls were clearly coming and going.  The overall number of individuals, would easily have surpassed the 200 mark.

With 24 'colour-ringed' BHGs to look out for, 19 were spotted by the time I departed at 1pm.  Again, there was no sign of the North Ronaldsay gull, so it's looking likely this bird has moved on.  I was hoping to report the return of the Icelandic BHG, which is 'metal-ringed'.  Although, it's now due, there was no sign of it.

  2AAF , is causing me some concern.  When I last saw it on the 5th November, it had an injured leg and spent most of it's time hunched up on the long jetty.  It is not a very good sign, when the birds are in this condition and looking sorry for themselves.  Having been absent during the previous two visits, perhaps   2AAF  is just lying low somewhere.

Colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls at Antrim Marina  -  Sunday 19th November
 2ABN   2AAT   T35J   2ABF   2AAB   2CJT   2AAN   2ADJ   2AAR   2ACV 
 2AAP   2AAK   2ABK   2BRA   2ABS   2AAA   2ADV   2ABA   2AAV    

Today's Absentees
 2AAC   2AAF   2ABL   2AFD   2ANS 

With Adam back on the scene, the Orange Darvic's, were now available and three BHGs were duly caught by hand and ringed.  All three are of known age, as two were juveniles, and the third is into it's second winter.  This second winter bird, is the one that arrived two weeks ago and perches onto my hand to be fed.  I still believe, it is the very same gull, that did this last winter, as a juvenile.  As it has only re-appeared of late, it is obviously not a resident.

If one or two gulls could be ringed each week, until I finish my winter visits at the end of March, then a nice overall total may be achieved.

Two of the New Recruits  -  Juveniles    2CSA   and     2CSB   -  Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim  (19 Nov 2017)

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
Today, the highest number of Common Gulls, so far this winter, appeared.  Four adults, were present for most of my visit, but did not include the Scottish-rung   EY64036 .  This bird, did arrive as predicted, back in September, but has not been seen since.  I'd be fairly sure, it is still frequenting Lough Neagh.  These gulls seem to stay clear of the Marina, until the winter weather becomes colder and harsher.  The lack of natural food, seems to draw them in to the Marina, during such times.  From late December, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for the return of the Finnish bird.  It will be over 22 years old, should it make it back again.

An adult Herring Gull, arrived at 09.30, which I think is the same bird that was here along with a juvenile, earlier this autumn.  A juvenile, appeared at 10.20, which might be the same youngster, though more grown up.  The near adult, which has been here over the last few weeks, was very late arriving today and appeared at 12.40.

When I arrived, four adult Mute Swans, plus two cygnets, were already present on the slipway.  Being busy with the Black-headed Gulls, other Mute Swans slipped in unnoticed.  I ended up, with 9 adults and three cygnets, by the time of my departure.  Only one bird was ringed -   W34158 .

Mallard numbers, were again on the low side, with maximum numbers of around 40 birds.  Again, no rings were spotted on any of them.

A single Kingfisher, flashed by the Marina on a number of occasions.  5 Hooded Crows, 8 Jackdaws and 2 Magpies, were the only other species noted.

Antrim's Elim Church, KFC and Baptist Church
After leaving the Marina, I checked the BHGs at Antrim's Elim Church, KFC and Baptist Church.  Gulls were present in small numbers at all three sites.  The only ring spotted, was my second sighting this winter, of the Polish (White) TY43, at the Baptist Church.  It's beginning to look, as if this gull is wintering at Antrim Town.  A new sighting, when I spotted it, on the 16th October, I thought that it might just be passing through.  Continued sightings over the next couple of months, would cement it's status here, as a winter resident.

Black-headed Gull  -  Poland  (White)  TY43  -  Antrim Baptist Church,  Co. Antrim  (19 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as an Unsexed 2nd Calendar Year, on the 9th February 2012, at Olsztyn-Kormoran, Poland)


      Ringing Details Received       
The Browser that I prefer to use - Firefox - recently upgraded to what was stated to be a faster system.  However, this is far from the truth, and it is now operating at a painfully slower speed.

I therefore decided to switch to Microsoft Edge.  When coming round to working on my blog, I am encountering several problems while editing.  I tried using another Microsoft Browser and also Google Chrome, but these do not solve my problems.

As working on this post, has taken an age to put together, I will not add 'Ringing Details Received' this time.  I'll include them in my next post, by which time, I might have received the details for my Whooper Swan and latest Herring Gull sightings.


      Thursday 16th November 2017       
I decided to try my luck on County Down coast today.  I chose to start, on the west side of Strangford Lough, beginning with a first ever visit to Dundrum and working the coast, moving around to Killyleagh.  On the way down, I called by Corbet Lough and the Lough at Castlewellan Forest Park.

At Corbet Lough, I spotted one of Adam's BHGs, -   2ADR .  This gull was ringed here as an adult female, in December 2013.  Although   2ADR , winters at Corbet Lough, it seems to be breeding somewhere on Lough Neagh.  I spotted   2ADR , at Kinnego Marina, on the 14th August 2016 and there is a record of it having been at Kinnego, in October 2015.  The Marina, is situated on the southern edge of Lough Neagh and is situated 20 kms / 12 miles north-west of Corbet Lough.  It seems as if   2ADR , spends a little time at Kinnego, once the breeding season is over.

Black-headed Gull  -     2ADR   -  Corbet Lough, Co. Down  (16 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Female, on the 6th December 2013, at Corbet Lough, Co. Down)

None of the 40'ish Black-headed Gulls at Castlewellan, were ringed, so it was on to Dundrum.  Here, there were extensive mud-flats, which were fully exposed, as the tide was out.  Away in the distance, a flock of gulls, numbering between 6 and 7 hundred birds could be seen.

Not so far away, were small groups of Brent Geese, with a number of birds carrying 'coloured' rings.  Even, with the power of my camera, they were still too far out to read the codes.  I must say, Dundrum looks promising, so I'll make a return visit on a later date.  I need to arrive at a time, when the tide starts to recede and see what happens.

Moving on from Dundrum, I checked small groups of gulls and waders, all along the coast.  No more rings were spotted until I reached Ardglass Harbour.  On the rocks opposite the harbour, a couple of hundred gulls of various species, were resting.  Scoping through these, I spotted a sub-adult Herring Gull, ringed -   R17:M , a new sighting.  I knew by the code, that this was from the Isle of Man and the gull has now been reported to both Kevin Scott and the BTO.

I remained at Ardglass, for quite a while, hoping to spot another ring, especially as there were an excellent number of Black-headed and Common Gulls.  It started to get dark and as the light was failing, I called it a day.  Heading for home, I was disappointed at not spotting another 'colour-ring'.

Herring Gull  -     R17:M   -  Ardglass Harbour, Co. Down  (16 Nov 2017)
(Waiting on Ringing Details)


      Saturday 18th November 2017       
My plan today, was to check the beach at Whiteabbey.  I have been hoping to see the return of a Portuguese-rung Lesser Black-backed Gull, but there is still no sign of it.  There is also the possibility, that a Polish-rung Mediterranean Gull, might also return to Whiteabbey.

With the tide fast receding, gulls were arriving in good numbers, both to feed and bathe in the river, which flows into Belfast Lough.  The first ring spotted, was my third sighting here of the juvenile Black-headed Gull -   2CPN , from Adam's Study.  As Adam, is back online, I finally received the ringing details for this youngster.

 2CPN , was ringed as a chick, on the 16th June 2017, at Blue Circle island, on Larne Lough.  The island lies 18 kms / 11 miles, to the north-east of Whiteabbey Beach.  Having took a few photos, this youngster seems to be looking quite good and should survive the winter. 

(Juvenile)  Black-headed Gull  -     2CPN   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline, Co. Antrim  (18 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 16th June 2017, at Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim)

The next ring to be spotted, was a 'Yellow Darvic', on a Black-headed Gull.  The bird was washing itself, at the edge of the river, which flows down the beach and into Belfast Lough.  Scoping the ring, all I could read was ' 4H ', as the remainder of the ring was submerged.  Immediately, I thought, this was the gull which has evaded me, during the past two winters here.

I kept a sharp eye on the gull, in case it should take flight, which eventually, it did.  Following the gull in flight, it landed further up the beach to the north.  Moving along the footpath, as quickly as possible, I was now in camera range.  A few snaps later, and the code on the ring was secured -   214H .  I recognised the number sequence and knew this gull was from a project in County Mayo, in the Republic of Ireland.  On returning home, I emailed Eoin McGreal, reporting my find.

On Monday morning, the reply was in.    214H , was ringed as a chick, on the 4th June 2007.  My sighting, was the first record for this gull.  With a duration of 10 years, 5 months and 14 days, I find it amazing, that the   214H  has remained undetected for so long.  Should this be the same BHG, which has evaded me in the past, then it would be safe to assume, it winters here every year.

I should mention, two other BHGs, from the Lough Mask Project, which were also first sightings, long after being ringed.  On the 22nd March 2016, I spotted  236S , at Glynn, on Larne Lough.    236S , had been ringed as a chick, in June 2007.  Suzanne Belshaw, spotted  290P , at Lurgan Park, in County Armagh, on the 10th March 2017.    290P , was also ringed as a chick in June 2007.

My record of  214H , makes it a hat-trick of first sightings for 2007 youngsters.  Lough Mask, is situated, 253 kms / 157 miles, south-west, from Whiteabbey.

My thanks to Eoin, for replying so quickly, with the ringing details of this gull.

Black-headed Gull  -    214H   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline, Co. Antrim  (16 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 4th June 2007, at Lough Mask, Co. Mayo, Rep. of Ireland)

A Common Gull, with a 'Blue-ring', was next to be spotted.  Although, well out, my camera caught the code -   2AIP  .  Today's, is my eighth sighting of   2AIP .  The first ever sighting was made back in October 2015, and my previous sighting was on the 22nd August 2017.  Ringed as a chick, on the Copeland Islands in June 2012,   2AIP , is now approaching five and a half years of age.

Common Gull  -     2AIP   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline, Co. Antrim,  (16 Nov 2017)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 11th June 2012, at Big Copeland Island, Co. Down) 


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