I'm beginning to get over the serious bout of the cold or flu. Because of it, I have not been out and about, deciding to keep out of the cold weather. My weekly visit to Antrim Marina, was a must do, and this week saw the return of a very special Common Gull from Finland. The electrical problems with my car, are ongoing, and I've decided to part with it. I have purchased another car, which should be available by the weekend, pending on it passing it's MOT test. The dealer, is trying to get the car booked in, through a cancelation. With my cold getting better and a reliable motor, I can confidently get back out 'Ring Reading'.
|Antrim Marina - Sunday 14th January 2018|
My visit to Antrim Marina, started off very well, weather-wise. With a near cloudless blue sky, sunshine and a slight breeze, things changed slowly as the morning wore on. Due to the arrival of a very special Common Gull, I remained at the Marina, till around 2.45pm. By that time, a very strong wind was now blowing in from the Lough and the light had diminished, due to thick cloud cover.
This week, I was on the lookout for 37 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls. I had re-sighted 30 of these by 12.53, but at 12.56, I spotted 2BRC , which is one of the two BHGs, that I was still waiting on this winter. This just leaves 2ADD , to return, which should happen in late February or early March.
2BRC , was ringed at Antrim Marina, on the 1st February 2015 and was re-sighted on four occasions before the end of the 2014/15 winter. A non resident, 2BRC returned in October 2015, being recorded on just seven occasions by the end of March 2016. Last winter, 2016/17, I only saw it on three occasions, the first on the 27th November and the third on the 22nd January 2017.
Although, a scare visitor to Antrim Marina, 2BRC is quite approachable, which makes me think, that it is used to being around people and it's ring has not been noticed. It might spend the winter at another location in the Antrim area, paying in-frequent visits to the Marina. I have also pondered on the idea, that 2BRC is a foreign bird, hence it's late appearance. Anyhow, with no new gulls caught and ringed this week, I will be on the lookout for 38 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls next week.
Black-headed Gull - 2BRC - Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim (14 Jan 2018)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 1st February 2015, at Antrim Marina)
The number of Black-headed Gulls present throughout my visit was very good. At all times, totals were between 100 and 150 birds, but between 12.00 and 1pm, the place was manic. Black-headed Gulls during that hour, easily exceeded the 250 mark, along with the other gulls, swans and ducks, there were a lot of birds about in such a small area. Folk, came along to feed the birds, throughout the morning, but there was a lot of visitors at the same time, as gull numbers were at their highest.
The gulls were joining feeding frenzies and high speed chases were going on all over the place. Due to the arrival of the aforementioned Common Gull, I tried without success to find three 'colour-ringed' BHGs. These were the two youngsters that were ringed last Sunday and 2ANS . However, as I stayed on for longer than normal, 2AFD was spotted at 13.19, 2AAB (13.26) and 2AAV (13.43).
Colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls Spotted Today at Antrim Marina (14 Jan 2018)
At 13.50, I then spotted a BHG with a tall 'metal-ring', which turned out to be my second sighting this winter, of the Icelandic 571487 . With all the commotion going on around me, I knew I only had a few seconds to take photos of the 'metal', before my gull would fly off, which it did. I managed to capture the whole ring number, but the gull was away before I could get a full photo of the bird itself.
Ring of Black-headed Gull - Iceland 571487 - Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim (14 Jan 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 19th June 2003, just outside Reykjavík, Iceland)
At this point, I gave up on the Black-headed Gulls, as I probably would not find any more ringed birds. Some people, must have thought that I was running around like a lunatic and enquired about what I was doing. Explaining about the rings, Adam's Study and the countries where some of these gulls had come from, really caught their attention and many questions were answered.
Many were gobsmacked, as they never knew what was in front of their eyes and today saw several countries being represented by their birds. We had (White) T35J from Lithuania, 2AFD that goes to Latvia, 2AAR that has bred in Poland, 2ACV which likely breeds in Leighton Moss in England, the Icelandic 571487 , EY64036 from Scotland, and finally the very special Common Gull from Finland - ST177.028 .
Other Birds at Antrim Marina
At 12.10 today, I spotted a Common Gull with a tall 'metal ring'. I knew straight away this bird had to be ST177.028 , the gull I've been talking about to my curious onlookers over the last couple of visits and even earlier today.
I was a short distance away from my car, scoping for rings, when I spotted the gull on the ground a few feet away from the car. Turning the scope onto the bird, I could see ' 7.02 ' on it's ring. I slowly made my way back to my car to grab my camera. Having took two photos, it flew off. I went into hot pursuit, trying to relocate the gull to take pictures of it's ring.
Each time I found the gull, it was off again, taking part in the chases, trying to force BHGs to drop their food. At times, it disappeared altogether or would arrive and perch on the rails at the end of the long jetty. I did manage a few photos of the ring, but was missing the numbers ' 02 '.
Still, ST177.028 , was back for the third winter in a row. Having been ringed as a juvenile in August 1995, today's sighting means that ST177.028 , was ringed 22 years, 5 months and 8 days, ago. The oldest recorded Common Gull, was aged 27 years, 10 months and 19 days. My gull might not beat that record, but at least it's still one of the oldest ever recorded.
Common Gull - Finland ST177.028 - Antrim Marina, Co. Antrim (14 Jan 2018)
(Ringed as a Juvenile, on the 6th August 1995, at Maaninka, Finland)
(The numbers ' 02 ' were not captured)
(The numbers ' 02 ' were not captured)
It was actually, quite a good day for Common Gulls, with 12 adults and two juveniles being recorded. One of the juveniles, was still in a very brown plumage, which lacked the greyer feathers, such youngsters would normally be displaying at this time of the winter. One of the juvenile Black-headed Gulls, also displayed a lot of brown which was very dark in colour. I've often wondered, if such birds are foreign and is a trait that such birds would display.
The small female Scottish-rung Common Gull - EY64036 , arrived at 10.34 this morning. I recorded her last week, which had been the first time, since her initial return on the 25th September 2017.
The first Herring Gull, arrived at 10.45, this being a third calendar year bird. Both the recently recorded adult Herring Gulls arrived together at 12.17, as well as a juvenile around ten minutes later.
7 Mute Swans and 2 cygnets, were on the slipway, when I arrived this morning. Another two adults, flew in from the Lough at 10.40. The final adult, which swam in from the Lough at 11.33, turned out to be W34158 , which is regularly recorded here.
Mallard numbers, are on the rise again. Around 30 to begin with, the numbers increased throughout the morning, with 60 to 70 ducks present, when I departed around 2.45. Most were checked for rings, but these are definitely lacking this winter.
14 Jackdaws, 5 Hooded Crows, a single Pied Wagtail and the juvenile Moorhen, were the only other species noted.
Antrim's Elim Church, KFC & Baptist Church
By the time I got to Antrim's Elim Church, the light was fading fast and I knew the rain was not too far off. Although, 2AAV , was a late arrival at the Marina, I still had to check the Church for 2ARH , which surprisingly turned up here last Sunday. Attracting around 30 Black-headed Gulls with bread, many were now reluctant to land. With about half, briefly doing so, no rings were spotted.
At the KFC, I had similar problems with gulls reluctant to land. A small number of Black-headed Gulls flying overhead, diverted to the car park, as I was throwing bread out from the car window. They were probably heading for their roost at the time. With between 40 and 50 gulls now present, just over a dozen actually landed. Amongst these was a Mediterranean Gull, with a BTO sized 'metal-ring' on it's right leg.
However, this bird was missing it's left foot, which has obviously been severed from just above the ankle joint. Had this gull been 'colour-ringed', the ring would have slipped off. As I was turning the camera on, it took off and that was the last that I saw of it. There was no sign today, of the Norwegian - JK35 .
I now made a quick dash, to Antrim's Baptist Church. As I arrived, the first drops of rain had started to fall, but there was not a gull in sight. I called it a day and drove back home.
|Ringing Details Received|
I am still waiting on the British Trust for Ornithology, to send the ringing details for some of my gull sightings. These are for, four 'metal-rung' Black-headed Gulls and includes one from Lithuania.
I did receive the details for a juvenile 'colour-ringed' Herring Gull, that was spotted by David Nixon, at Killough, Co. Down, on the 15th November 2017. David, had reported L03:M , direct to the ringer, but received no reply.
I then offered to report his sighting, to the BTO, through the new Demon Ringing Database. L03:M , was ringed on the 25th June 2017, on the Isle of Man, a large island, which lies between Northern Ireland and the British Mainland. The distance from the ringing site, to Killough, is 58 kms / 36 miles, WNW. Unfortunately, David did not get a photo of the Herring Gull.