Wednesday, 11 April 2018

4 BH Gulls - Back Home...

      Saturday 7th April 2018       
My main aim this afternoon, was to visit Millisle, which is a 'hotspot' for Common Gull ring sightings.  I planned my timing to co-inside with a high tide, which would bring the gulls in close to me.  You can imagine my disappointment, as no Common Gulls were to be found at the site.

On my way to County Down, I called in briefly to Whitehouse Lagoon, as I knew it would be largly devoid of water, as it takes time for the tide to flood in through the concrete pipes.

Not too many gulls about, but a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits, were present in the distance.  Most of these, were huddled together roosting, but a couple of dozen birds, were feeding on the mud.  Scoping through the feeding birds, I spotted one with colour-rings.

Using my camera, I zoomed in and took a few photos.  I did not hope, on capturing the ring combination, due to the distance involved.  On checking the pictures, I was pleasantly surprised, to find that I could see RW(8)-RY.

The white eight, 'rang a bell', in my head - had I seen this bird before?  On returning home and checking my records, I had recorded this bird on the nearby Dargan Mudflats, on the 24th July 2016, which at that time, was it's only ever sighting in Northern Ireland.

Having been ringed as an adult male, in Iceland, at the time of my initial sighting, RW(8)-RY, had only been recorded at Leighton Moss, in Lancashire, England, other than a couple of other re-sightings in Iceland.  In January 2017, I received an email, reporting on the progress of RW(8)-RY, since I had spotted it at Dargan.  The bird had been recorded at two sites in County Cork, in August 2016, December 2016 and January 2017.

I have reported my latest sighting to the Icelandic Wader Group and await a reply.  I'm wondering, if this is the first sighting since January 2017 and whether my sighting will be a second record for Northern Ireland.

Black-tailed Godwit  -  RW(8)-RY  -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Co. Antrim  (07 Apr 2018)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 7th July 2010, at Lambadalur, Northern Iceland)

Throughout my travels along the east coast of County Down, I checked on numerous small flocks of gulls and geese for rings, with two new sightings being recorded.

At John's Port, just to the north of the village of Portavogie, I spotted a Brent Goose, ringed -   4    .  Graham McElwaine, from the Irish Brent Goose Research Group, replied to my email, with the birds file attached.

  4    K  , was ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 8th May 2016, at Breiðabólstaðatjörn, Álftanes, in south-west Iceland.  In the short period since it has been ringed, there are already numerous re-sightings.  These are too many to list, but the bird wintered on Strangford Lough in 2016 (Greyabbey) and 2017 (Greyabbey), and was re-sighted on one occasion, back in Iceland, in May 2017.

My sighting today, is the 3rd in 2018, with all three records being recorded on the outer Ards Peninsular - the other two sightings, having been made around the shore at Ballyhalbert.

My thanks to Graham, for his prompt reply and the PDF File.

Brent Goose  -    4    K    -  John's Port, Portavogie, Co. Down  (07 Apr 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-sexed Adult, on the 8th May 2016, at Breiðabólstaðatjörn, Álftanes, SW Iceland)

The second colour-ringed bird to be spotted, was that of a juvenile Herring Gull, at Portavogie Harbour.    A:E65 , is almost certain, to be the same gull spotted here a couple of months ago, on which occasion, it flew off before I could take photos and capture the code on the ring.

I have reported the bird to both Dave Grant and Iain Livinstone, but as yet, have not received a reply.  However,   A:E65 , was probably ringed as a chick, on the 5th July 2017, at Lady Isle, Troon, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Just recently, I reported   A:E87 , on the behalf of David Nixon, who spotted that gull at Dundrum, in County Down.  My bet, is that, both   A:E65  and   A:E87 , were ringed on the same date.  The distance from Lady Isle, to Portavogie, is 127 kms / 78 miles (SSW).

Herring Gull (Juvenile)  -    A:E65   -  Portavogie Harbour, Co. Down  (07 Apr 2018)
(Waiting on the Ringing Details)


      First Rathlin Colour-ringed Common Gull       
On Sunday evening (8th April 2018), I received an email from a Seamus Enright, concerning a 'colour-ringed' Common Gull, which was ringed last summer.    2BAN , was ringed as a chick, during my second visit to Rathlin Island, on the 24th June 2017.

Due to the heavy predation of Common Gull eggs and chicks, by two pairs of Great Black-backed Gulls, only 36 Common Gull pulli were colour-ringed on the island, in total.

It has been a long wait, for my first re-sighting of these Rathlin birds, but Seamus spotted   2BAN , at Kilshanning Point, Tralee Bay, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland.  The distance, in a straight line, from Rathlin to Kilshanning Point, is 415 kms / 257 miles, in a south-west direction.  I reckon, that   2BAN , has travelled west and then southwards down the Irish coast, which adds a lot more mileage.

The duration since being ringed, was 0 years, 9 months and 15 days.  Hopefully, now that the 'ice', has been broken, a few more re-sightings will come along.  Even if a third of the 'colour-ringed' youngsters survived the winter, there will be a least elevan more birds around, waiting to be spotted.

My thanks, goes to Seamus Enright, for reporting   2BAN .  Unfortuantly,   2BAN , flew off before Seamus could obtain a photo.

Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim to Kilshannig Point, Co. Kerry
(415 kms / 257 miles South-West)


      From David Nixon       
On the 4th April 2018, I received an email from fellow birdwatcher David Nixon.  He had sighted two 'colour-ringed' birds, at Dundrum (Inner Bay), in County Down, namely a Common Gull and an Oystercatcher.  David enquired, if I could 'nail' the origins of both birds, which for me, was a now easy task.

The first of the two, complete with a photograph, was that of a Norwegian Common Gull - (White) JA175.  Colour-rings from Norway, always begin with the letter 'J'.  I entered the ring combination, onto the 'Live' Norwegian Ringing Database, and soon obtained the birds ringing and re-sighting history.

(White) JA175, was caught and ringed, as a juvenile female, on the 18th September 2016, at Sandnes, Norway.  It was re-sighted, three days after ringing, in the same locality and had not been reported again, until David spotted it at Dundrum.  The distance from Sandnes to Dundrum, is 875 kms / 543 miles, in a south-west direction.  The duration since being ringed, was 1 year, 6 months and 17 days.

(White) JA175, is the third (that I know of) 'colour-ringed' Norwegian Common Gull, to be found in Northern Ireland, in the last two winters.    JA19 , was got at Whitehouse Lagoon, County Antrim, on the 12th February 2017, and (White) JA9M, was recorded on the 11th March 2018, at Donaghadee, Co. Down.

Common Gull  -  (White)  JA175  -  Dundrum (Inner Bay), Co. Down  (04 Apr 2018)
(Ringed as a Juvenile (female), on the 18th September 2016, at Sandnes, Norway.)
(Photo Courtesy of David Nixon)

The Oystercatcher, which was from Iceland, was easy as well.  Although, this was David's first 'colour-ringed' Oystercatcher, his description of the 'colour-rings', was similar to birds that I have personally recorded.

Right leg had a white ring with letters 'CA', (the C over the A) below knee joint.

Left leg had silver BTO ring above knee joint and red above light green below knee joint.

I emailed Böddi, at the Icelandic Wader Group, and soon had a reply.  RG-W(CA), was 'colour-ringed', as a chick, on the 19th June 2016, at Skipar, Stokkseyri, in Southern Iceland.  It was re-sighted on three occasions, the final time, was at fledging, on the 21st July 2016.

From then, it hadn't been re-sighted anywhere, until David, spotted the bird at Dundrum (Inner Bay), on the 4th April 2018.  The distance from Stokkseyri to Dundrm, is 1,369 kms / 850 miles (SE), and the duration since ringing, was, 1 year, 9 months and 16 days.

Many thanks to David, for sharing his sightings.  It's a pity, there was no photo for the Oystercatcher.


      Gulls Returning Home       
In my previous post, I mentioned that three Black-headed Gulls, had been re-sighted back in their native countries.  On re-checking the 'Live' Polish and Norwegian Ringing Databases, a fourth gull has now been reported back home.

The earliest mover, was the Polish   T58T , which winter's at Lurgan Park, in County Armagh.  It was reported back in Świnoujście, Poland, on the 23rd March 2018.  Having 'wintered' at Lurgan Park, for the second year running, it was last seen there, on the 27th February 2018, by Suzanne Belshaw.  Suzanne, was the first to see it this winter, when she reported spotting the gull, on the 1st December 2017.  On the 25th February, I went to Lurgan Park, as I wanted to see   T58T , before it headed home.

Black-headed Gull  -     T58T   -  Lurgan Park, Co. Armagh  (25 Feb 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-sexed Adult, on the 16th July 2016, at  Świnoujście, Poland)

The 30th March 2018, saw two more of our 'wintering' Black-headed Gulls, reported back in their own countries.

(White) TY43, is a bird of special interest.  I came across it, at Antrim's Baptist Church, on the 16th October 2017.  Having accessed it's ringing and re-sighting history, on the 'Live' Polish Ringing Database, I learned that it was no stranger to Antrim.

Back in October 2013, Adam McClure, happened to spot TY43, at Antrim Marina.  I had just started my weekly winter visits to the Marina and having just completed my 5th winter of 'Ring Watching' there, I've yet to see TY43, on the site.

Further re-sightings of TY43, at Antrim's Baptist Church, confirmed it's status as a winter resident at Antrim.  In the three years, between 2013 and 2017, the gull had gone un-recorded, until I came across it.  My last sighting of TY43, was on the 25th February 2018.

Ringed as a second year bird, on the 9th February 2012, hopefully, TY43, will make a return next winter.

Black-headed Gull  -  (White)  TY43  -  Antrim's Baptist Church, Co. Antrim  (25 Feb 2018)
(Ringed as a 2nd Calendar Year Bird, on the 9th February 2012, at Olsztyn,, Poland)

The second gull reported back home on the 30th March 2018, was the Norwegian   J22Z   J22Z , was a new sighting for me this winter and was spotted at Kinnegar Beach, Co. Down, on the 4th March 2018.  Two weeks later, on the 18th, I re-sighted it again, at Kinnegar.

Since then, it has only taken 12 days, to return to Norway, having been spotted 12 kms south (at Sandnes), from it's original ringing site at Mosvatnet, Stavanger.

Due to spotting   J22Z , so late in the winter, it's impossible to state, whether the bird is a winter resident around the Kinnegar shore, but will be one to look out for next winter.

Black-headed Gull  -    J22Z   -  Kinnegar Beach, Co. Down  (18 Mar 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-sexed Adult, on the 4th May 2016, at Mosvatnet, Stavanger, Norway)

On the 8th April 2018, another foreign Black-headed Gull, which winters at Lurgan Park, in County Armagh, had been re-sighted back in Norway.  (White) J4P4, has been a frequent winter visitor to Lurgan Park, for many years.

It's return to Lurgan Park, during this winter, was noted by Suzanne Belshaw on the 1st December 2017 and was it last seen there before returning home, on the 27th February 2018, also by Suzanne.  I called by Lurgan Park, on the 25th February, as I wanted to record J4P4 and the Polish   T58T , before they departed.

It's latest sighting, was at Tronvikbukta, which is 11 kms (NW), from where it had been ringed as a chick (26th June 2006), at Stanga, Råde, Norway.

Black-headed Gull  -  (White)  J4P4  -  Lurgan Park, Co. Armagh  (25 Feb 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 26th June 2006, at Stanga, Rådo, Norway)


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