Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Growing Gulls...

Finally, as I write this post, I appear to have shrugged off all my ills from the last few months.  My suspected Tendinitus, is now gone, although I could still feel a bit of pain on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th, whilst hauling a rucksack around on my back.  The timing could not have been better.  I've been trying to take things easy, especially regards to my foot injury back in March.

These last two weeks, has seen me bouncing around the rocky shores of Rathlin Island, looking for Common Gull chicks.  My foot has passed the test, with flying colours, so hopefully, that sees the end of that problem.  As I've not been working with Raptors this summer, I've undertaken a bit of 'Ring Reading', along with finding nests, when time allows.  Now that I'm busy again, I'm finding it difficult to work on my blog as well.

On top of everything, my garden, is also begging for attention.  The lawn, is constantly in need of cutting, as the grass is growing at a fair pace.  My hedge also had to be cut back and the conifer by the garden gate, also, was in need of trimming.  So much to do, and little time to do everything.

This Friday, will see my first ever visit to Copeland Island Bird Observatory.  I'm staying over for the weekend, arriving back around supper time on Sunday.  I was hoping to 'colour-ring' a few late Common Gull chicks there, but my chances may be limited, as Arctic Terns, apparently nest close to the Common Gulls.  Failing that, I'll attempt to carry out a bit of 'Ring Reading' instead.
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      Rathlin Island - 18th & 19th June 2018       
On Monday 18th June and Tuesday 19th June, I made my first visits to Rathlin Island, to look for Common Gull chicks, in order to ring them with 'metal' and 'colour-rings'.  On the Monday, my sister Heather and my eldest son's mate, Michael Wright, came along to help in the search and ringing.

The following day, I returned on my own, to check out the colonies, that were more difficult to get to and involved a lot more walking.  Repeat visits to these same colonies, were carried out on Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th June, in order to 'colour-ring' chicks, that were too small to receive 'colour-rings' the previous week.  As well as these, I hoped to catch youngsters that had been missed the first time round.

As I write, the visits have now been completed, but I will publish a review of the results in my next post.  My thanks, goes to Michael and Heather, for their help in locating chicks.  Heather, also returned on Monday the 25th, to help out.

On Monday 19th, my sister took a rest, whilst Michael & I, walked around the edge of Ushet Lough.  This large freshwater, inland lake, is situated, half way down Rathlin's 'southern arm' and attracts a small population of nesting Common Gulls.  Whilst searching for their chicks, on the edges of the lake, I scoped a large flock of Greylag Geese, hoping to spot one with a neck collar -   NDD .  Hoping to re-sight it here for the third summer running, there was no sign of it, but I did spot two other geese with collars, which I think are paired together.

Having captured their codes with my camera -   B|VI   &   B|VJ , these were first ever sightings for me.  I spotted both birds again the following day, but there was still no sign of   NDD .  During my visits, the following week, no geese were spotted with collars. I've reported my sightings to the BTO, through their new DemOn Ringing Database, and now await the ringing details.

Greylag Goose  -    B|VI   -  Ushet Lough, Rathlin Island  (18 Jun 2018)
(Waiting on Ringing Details)

Greylag Goose  -    B|VJ   -  Ushet Lough, Rathlin Island  (18 Jun 2018)
(Waiting on Ringing Details)

An interesting find on Ushet Lough, was a nest belonging to a Lesser Black-backed Gull.  I had been alerted to the possibility of a nest, by an alarm calling adult flying high above me.  A quick search, around the area, where non-breeding and immatures of this species gather, led me to a nest close to the shoreline, which contained two eggs.  I believe, that the only Lesser Black-back, nesting colonies, are to be found on Rathlin's north coast, so this nest was a surprise find.  Hopefully, the eggs will hatch out ok, and I'll be able to ring the chicks in a few weeks.

Nest & Eggs of the Lesser Black-backed Gull  -  Ushet Lough, Rathlin Island (19 Jun 2018)

Although, most of Rathlin's Eider Ducks, now have their recently hatched chicks, out on the sea, a few nests were found among the rocks, whilst searching for Common Gull youngsters.

Female Eider Duck on Nest

At Ushet Port, close to Rathlin's southern lighthouse at Rue Point, numerous seals, had hauled themselves out onto the rocks, to enjoy the sunshine.  Here, the seals, are very tolerant of the islands visitors, who in turn, are in awe, after coming across them and just how close they can get to these wonderful animals.

When I returned to Rathlin's harbour, on Tuesday 19th, to catch the final ferry back to Ballycastle, around half a dozen seals, were basking on rocks right beside the ferry slipway.  These caused quite a stir, as most visitors, would head off to the west lighthouse, to witness the seabird nesting stacks and would not otherwise, see any seals.

Seal Resting at Rathlin Harbour

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      Inch Island - 21st June 2018       
On Thursday the 21st June, I visited Inch Island in County Donegal, after receiving an invite from the Causeway Coast Ringing Group.  Usually, group members, led by Ken Perry, visit the small islet on two or three occasions each summer, to ring Sandwich Tern chicks.  This year, the chicks were to be 'colour-ringed' for the first time ever, during today's only planned visit this summer.  I volunteered myself, to write down the 'codes' and 'metal' numbers, whilst the chicks were being ringed.  At the same time, I would keep an eye out for any of the Black-headed Gulls, which Adam McClure, 'colour-ringed' here two years ago, as chicks.


When I arrived at the car park, at 9am, the first boat load, was already making it's way over to the island, which left my ringing trainer John Clarke an I, to be picked up on the second trip.  Talking to John, it turned out, the 'colour-rings' for the terns had been left behind.  As I hadn't brought my ringing pliers with me, I was now free to scan the Black-headed Gulls for 'colour-rings'.  None, were spotted, but the highlight for me, was getting quite close to a Black Swan, sitting on her nest.


As far as I know, a landowner in County Donegal, kept Black Swans as part of a Wildfowl collection, where some birds eventually escaped.  Although, I have seen Black Swans before, not only here at Inch and on the nearby Lough Foyle (near Myroe), I once recorded a pair on the sea at Carnlough Bay, in County Antrim, which is not far from where I live.

Black Swan on her Nest  -  Inch Island, Co. Donegal  (21 Jun 2018)

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      Antrim - 23rd June 2018       
Due to the lack of gulls present at Antrim Marina, during recent random summer visits, I had avoided the site, over the last couple of weeks and decided to pay a visit today.

Firstly, on my way up to Antrim Marina, I stopped by the Tesco Warehouse, at Antrim's, Kilbegs Industrial Estate.  During my last visit here on the 3rd of June, I discovered that the Mediterranean x Common Gull pair, had three recently hatched chicks.  Having nested on the exact same spot for the third summer running, this year, they successfully hatched out their eggs.

Sadly, one of the chicks, appears to have perished, but the two remaining youngsters, are now beginning to grow their feathers.  The female, remained close by her chicks and when the male (Med Gull), eventually arrived, he just lay down close to the ridge of the roof.  I'll keep track, of these two youngsters, as I want to capture photos of them, when well feathered.

Mediterranean x Common Gull Chicks, at the Tesco Warehouse, Kilbegs, Antrim Town  (23 Jun 2018)

As I neared Antrim Marina, I spotted numerous gulls in flight, which bode well for my visit.  I wasn't disappointed, as around 80 to 100 gulls, were constantly on site.  Setting about, looking for 'colour-ringed' birds, I spotted 8 'Orange Darvic's' from Adam's Black-headed Gull Study, a BHG with a 'metal-ring', a BHG with a 'Red Darvic' and a Common Gull, with a 'Blue Darvic'.

The 8 from Adam's Study, were,   2ABS ,   2ADJ ,   2CSJ ,   2BRA ,   2CJT  ,   2ABF ,   2CSK   and   2AAP .  Both   2CSJ   and   2CSK , were ringed here during last winter, and today's sightings indicate that they have both remained in the area during the summer.  When ringed, they were aged as 2nd Winter and adult respectively.  After taking numerous photos of the 'metal-ringed' BHG, it turned out to be   2ABL , who managed to discard it's 'colour-ring' a while back.  All of the above gulls, had been considered as 'Resident', to Antrim Marina.

The Black-headed Gull, with the 'Red Darvic' -   2AX9 , was ringed as a chick, on the 20th June 2017, by The Clyde Ringing Group, at Elvanfoot, in the South Lanarkshire area of Scotland.  Having just turned a year since being ringed, it was 182 kms (WSW) from the ringing site.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AX9   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (23 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 20th June 2017, at Elvanfoot, South Lanarkshire, Scotland)

Back in March, a Common Gull, with a 'Blue Darvic', touched down on the railings at Antrim Marina, but flew off again before I could get my camera.  At the time, I thought it was the very early arrival of   2AJP .  No further sightings materialised, over my next few visits, but today, there was a Common Gull, with a 'Blue Darvic', among the BHGs on the slipway.

It stayed around long enough for me to take a few photos, and indeed, it was   2AJP , a gull that I had hoped to re-sight.    2AJP , was first recorded at Antrim Marina, on the 13th June 2016, by Suzanne Belshaw.  At the time, Suzanne, was helping me to record the resident BHGs, when   2AJP   appeared.

  2AJP , was ringed as a chick, on the 29th June 2013, by Shane Wolsey, on the Copeland Islands in County Down.  It's first re-sightings occurred in March 2014, when Graham Prole, recorded the then 1st winter bird, on three occasions at Poppintree Park, in the Irish Capital - Dublin.  Oddly, the gull has not been reported from anywhere else since, other than the summer visits to Antrim Marina.  I recorded the gull on two occasions last summer (June & July 2017), and today's sighting confirms the birds presence for a third year running.

Common Gull  -    2AJP   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (23 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 29th June 2013, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)

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      Castle Espie - Sunday 24th June 2018       
Today saw my 4th recent bi-weekly visit to Castle Espie, in County Down.  Having realised that some of Adam's 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, were going un-recorded at the Wetland Centre, I decided to carry out these regular visits to record the gulls.

With each visit, the status of the nesting gulls, changes by some degree.  Along with my sister Heather, we noticed that many nests have failed since our last visit a fortnight ago.  Not only that, some of the ringed adults, appear to have left Castle Espie altogether.  It may be possible, that these gulls, are heading directly to their wintering sites.

Even, in my home town of Ballymena, Black-headed Gulls are now returning to the Peoples Park and even in the housing estate where I live, a bird has arrived back recently.


Despite the nest failures, we were here to record 'colour-rings'.  A total of 12 'Orange Darvics' were recorded, three of which, were not recorded during the three previous visits.  The nine re-sightings were,   2CBK ,   2BKK ,   2BKD ,   2AKT ,   2CAP ,   2AHF ,   2CBR ,   2BKL   and   2CAD .

I intend to create a new spreadsheet for the Castle Espie sightings, which will run along side my Antrim Marina spreadsheet.  It will help me to keep track of my sightings, both during the summer and winter.  Now that I have WWT membership, I reckon many new sightings of foreign rung birds will be recorded over the course of the winter season.

Today's three new sightings are shown below.  All the gulls were reported to both Adam and the BTO.  Adam, has yet to reply, but the BTO, had the ringing details for two of the gulls, which according to their DemOn Database, are first re-sightings.  The photos taken today were not particularly good, but this in part was caused by extremely bright sunshine, which in turn caused very dark shadows underneath the gulls.

Black-headed Gull  -    2APR   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (24 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 15th June 2015, at Castle Espie)

Black-headed Gull  -    2CBP   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (24 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Juvenile, on the 24th June 2016, at Castle Espie)

Black-headed Gull  -    2CKS   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (24 Jun 2018)
(Waiting on Ringing Details)

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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Millisle Hotspot...

Health problems continue to dominate my life at the moment.  With no further problems with my left foot, when a wooden pallet fell on it, on the 17th March, and the prolonged bout of the cold or flu, which lasted just over 4 weeks, I have now, had to take time off work, due to another case of suspected Tendonitius in my left shoulder.  I had the same problem three years ago, which kept me off work for two weeks.

After a week of anti-inflammatories, my doctor scanned my shoulder on Saturday 16th June, and found no serious damage to the tendon or muscles.  Although still slightly sore, I now start two weeks holidays, which had been booked earlier in the year.  This was to co-inside, with the ringing of Common Gull chicks on Rathlin Island.  The first of several visits, was planned for Monday 18th June.


As can be understood, very little has been done birding wise and even my garden is suffering from a lack of attention.  Hopefully, I can get a little bit of everything done over the next couple of weeks, which will culminate in my first ever visit to the Copeland Islands.

I'm booked in for a weekend at the Observatory on Copeland, going on Friday 29th June and returning on the Sunday.  It might be a bit late to colour-ring any Common Gull chicks, but perhaps I can locate a few late youngsters.  I had hoped for a weekend, beginning on the 22nd June, but a duty officer for the Observatory, could not be got.  Even so, when I do get out there, I intend to spend quite a while locating and reading 'colour-rings'.  As can be read below, first re-sightings of 'colour-ringed' Common Gulls, is a possibility.

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      Saturday 9th June 2018       
Although off sick from work since Wednesday, I was beginning to get fed up with sitting around the house.  So, today, I thought I'd head off down to Waterfoot, Carnlough and Glenarm, for a couple of hours.

Starting off at Red Bay Pier, Waterfoot, I checked the short stretch of coast, leading to the boat club, at Cushendall.  During my last visit here back on May 20th, I recorded 4 pairs of Oystercatchers - finding two nests, each containing three eggs.  A Ringed Plovers nest, containing two eggs was found, but I reckoned three pairs were holding territory.  A Common Gull nest, containing three eggs, was easily spotted, with the female sitting tight.  Two other nests were also found, but both were empty.

During today's visit, the Ringed Plover nest had failed, but another nest close by, containing four eggs, was possibly a replacement clutch.  Although alarm calling, no eggs or chicks were found belonging to the other two pairs.

The Common Gull nest, now contained three small chicks.  The other two empty nests, found on my previous visit, had a single egg in one and the female was sitting tight on the other.

I was unable to check for chicks, at one of the Oystercatcher nests which contained three eggs.  A man, along with  his Terrier dog, potted about the rocks where the birds were nesting, for well over an hour and I hadn't the time to wait on his departure.  The second nest that had three eggs, now had three small chicks wandering about.  Another two chicks, were spotted with a third pair and though both adults from the fourth pair were alarm calling, no eggs or chicks were located.

I'll return in 10 to 14 days time,  to try and find all the Oystercatcher chicks, hoping to get a few ringed with 'metals'.  If the first Common Gull chicks are large enough, I'll 'colour-ring' them as well.  A pair of Black Guillemots, are once again nesting in a hole, at Red Bay Pier.  They failed last year for some reason, but raised a single chick the year before.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this one, hoping to ring a chick or two in the coming weeks.

Young Oystercatcher  -  Between the Villages of Waterfoot and Cushendall, Co. Antrim  (09 Jun 2018)

Moving on to Carnlough Bay, the tide was now well out.  There was quite a number of Common and Black-headed Gulls about, these mainly being immatures which hatched out last summer.  Scoping the birds from a distance, I spotted an immature Common Gull, with a 'Blue Darvic'.  I knew straight away, I had found a bird that I ringed last year.

With the tide so far out, I cautiously edged my way out, so as not to scare the gulls off.  Daring to go no closer, I zoomed in with my camera as best as I could and just about managed to capture the code -   2BBF   2BBF , was the last young gull that I ringed on Rathlin Island, on the 24th June 2017, at Arkill Bay.  It gave me great pleasure, spotting a bird that I've had my hands on.  Carnlough, is situated just 35 kms / 21 miles SSE of Rathlin.

   2BBF , is the fourth of 36 young Common Gulls, 'colour-ringed' last summer on Rathlin, to have been spotted.  Two were discovered at Dundrum in County Down and the third, was spotted at Tralee Bay, in County Kerry.  As stated previously, if two thirds, failed to survive through their first winter, there should at least be, around 12 that are still living.  Ok folks - there are eight more to look for!

Common Gull  -    2BBF   -  Carnlough Bay, Co. Antrim  (09 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, at Arkill Bay, Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim, on the 24th June 2017)

Finishing off at Glenarm Harbour, I sat waiting to see if I could re-sight a 'colour-ringed' Black Guillemot, which I've recorded here over the last three summers.  There was not much activity with the Guillemots, which suggests that any chicks present, are still quite small.  With as many as thirty pairs, nesting in the harbour walls, there should be a lot more activity, once chicks are large enough to remain unattended.

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      Sunday 10th June 2018       
Today, I popped back down to the Wetland Centre at Castle Espie.  Having recorded a number of 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, during my previous two visits, on May 13th and 27th, what a difference two weeks has made, as far as the nesting gulls are concerned.  For some reason or another, many nests had failed since I was here last.

Accompanied by my sister Heather, we spent several hours on site, only to record one new 'colour-ringed' BHG, along with eight re-sightings of birds recorded over my previous two visits.  There were even fewer none breeding birds on the lagoon, which can be observed from the hide.  None of the foreign ringed birds, spotted on my last visit, were present.  I had hoped the 'Med Gull', from Poland, would still be on site, as I was missing the last letter or number on it's 'colour-ring'.

The eight re-sightings were,   2CAJ ,   2AHF ,   2CBS ,   2AKT ,   2CAD ,   2AHJ ,   2BKD   and   2APT .  I've informed Adam, about my new sighting -   2BXJ , but as yet, he is still to respond about it or the birds recorded on my last visit.

This was my sister's first ever visit to Castle Espie and she was very impressed with the site and its birds.  Heather, now wants to come back on my next visit.   

Black-headed Gull  -    2BXJ   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (10 June 2018)
(Waiting on Ringing Details)

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      From Derek Polley       
Lately, I received an email from Derek Polley.  He had been 'sitting' on a Black-tailed Godwit, sighting since the 3rd May, but could not tie down it's origin.  Asking if I could help, I was not sure either, even after checking a 'Ringing Guide', which was produced in 2016.

I resorted to contacting Richard du Feu, who is very knowledgeable, when it comes to 'colour-ringed' Waders.  He in turn, contacted Dr. Jenny Gill, who responded, saying it was one of her birds.

It was ringed, as an un-sexed adult, on the 13th August 2010, at Holbeach, on The Wash Estuary, Lincolnshire, England.  Since then there have been many re-sightings, culminating in the birds first sighting anywhere in Ireland, when Derek took a photo, at the RSPB's Window on Wildlife Reserve in Belfast.

Previous sightings were at :- Frieston Shore, Lincolnshie, England (Sep 2010), Snettisham, Norfolk, England (Apr 2011), Frodsham Marsh, Cheshire, England (Jul 2012), Carr Lane Pools, Merseyside, England (Aug 2012), Humber Estuary, Lincolnshire, England (Sep 2012), GrimsstaĆ°ir, Iceland (Jul 2013), Filey Dams Nature Reserve, North Yorkshire, England (Aug 2013), Alde Estuary, Suffolk, England (Aug 2014), Burton Mere Wetland, Cheshire, England (Aug 2017) and finally, Belfast, Northern Ireland (May 2018).

My sincere thanks goes to Derek, for allowing me to share his sighting of the well travelled Godwit and for using his photo.

Colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit  -  RSPB's WoW Reserve, Belfast Harbour Estate  (03 May 2018)
(Ringed as a Adult, on the 13th August 2010, at Holbeach, The Wash Estuary, Lincolnshire, England)
(Photo Courtesy of Derek Polley)

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      Saturday 16th June 2018       
It has been quite a while since my last visit to Millisle, in County Down.  Known as a 'hotspot' for Common Gull sightings, my previous couple of visits there were very disappointing.  However, what a 'bumper' day, I had there today.

Out of 12 'ringed' gulls whose rings I tried to read, I had one 'partial' metal, 3 confirmed 'metals' and 8 confirmed 'colour-ringed' birds.  On top of those, there were at least a dozen Common Gulls, whose 'metal-rings', were beyond the reach of my camera.  As can be guessed, Common Gulls, were numerous, which led to 7 'colour-rings' and 2 'metals', being read.  Of these, three were new sightings, being 2 'coloured' and 1 'metal'.

Below, I'll run through with the Common Gulls first, in colour code and then in 'metal' order.  Every gull listed, were ringed as, either chicks or adults, on the nearby Copeland Islands.  

  2ACA , was ringed as a breeding adult, on the 14th May 2010.  Prior to today,   2ACA , has been recorded on 14 occasions, with all previous sightings have been recorded in the Millisle area, where I last spotted the gull on the 14th July 2017.  The duration, up to today's sighting is now 8 years, 1 month and 2 days.

Common Gull  -    2ACA   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Breeding Adult, on the 14th May 2010, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

  2ACV , is a seldom recorded Common Gull.  It is known to winter at Broadmeadows, Swords, Co. Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland.  Fellow 'Ring Reader', Graham Prole, has recorded the gull on three occasions there - (Sep 2013), (Feb 2016) and (Jan 2018), which was it's last sighting until today.  The only other record of   2ACV , was made on the 14th July 2017, when I saw the bird for the first time ever.  The duration since being ringed, is now 8 years and 19 days.

Common Gull  -    2ACV   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 18 Jun 2012, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

  2ADX , is an ever present gull at Millisle, with a long history of re-sightings on site.  Ringed as a chick, on the 1st June 2010, it's one of those birds, thats always in your face.  Being so used, to being fed by members of the public, it has no fear of people and readily runs in for a share of the spoils.  The duration since being ringed, is now 8 years and 15 days.

Common Gull  -    2ADX   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 1st June 2010, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

  2ANA , was one of two new 'colour-ringed' Common Gulls, recorded to day.  It was ringed by Shane Wolsey, on the 27th June 2014, which was the final year of Shane's Study on Copeland.  My sighting today, was the first record since being ringed and makes me wonder, where has it been.  The duration since being ringed, is 3 years, 11 months and 20 days.

As can be seen, the condition of the ring is already showing signs of heavy deterioration, as can be witnessed in some of the other photos.  I'm wondering, if these birds could be recaptured at some point in the near future, and fitted with a replacement ring.

Common Gull  -    2ANA   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 27th June 2014, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

  2ANJ , is another gull, that apparently is slipping below the 'radar'.  My sighting today, is only the sixth record of the gull, since being ringed as a chick, on the 11th June 2012.  Adam McClure, has also recorded   2ANJ , twice in 2013 (Jul & Oct).  My previous sightings were made in 2016, when I spotted the gull, three months in a row (Jul, Aug & Sep).  All sightings have been recorded at Millisle and the duration is now 6 years and 5 days.

Common Gull  -    2ANJ   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 11th June 2012, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

Talking about, 'slipping under the radar', the sighting of  Common Gull -   2AST , was the first ever, since it was ringed as a chick, on the 18th June 2012.  With the duration being, 5 years, 11 months and 29 days, somehow, this gull has evaded the birdwatchers.  Along with the sighting of   2ANA , mentioned above, it suggests that gulls from Shane's period of ringing (2009 to 2014), are still out there waiting to be discovered.

Common Gull  -    2AST   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 18th June 2012, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

  2BBC , like   2ADX , mentioned above, is another gull that is an ever present, at Millisle.  With a long history of re-sightings there, it was ringed as a chick, on the 23rd June 2009, the duration now being 8 years, 11 months and 24 days.

Common Gull  -    2BBC   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2016)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 23rd June 2010, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

With over a dozen 'metal-ringed' Common Gulls about, I managed to capture the numbers for two of these.  The first -   EW51760 , was also ringed a chick, on the 23rd June 2009 - the same date as   2BBC , above.  As it was not fitted with a colour-ring, the chick must have been too small, at the time of ringing, to receive a 'Darvic Ring'.    EW71760 , was a new sighting for me, and after checking the BTO's 'DemOn Ringing Database', it also turned out to be the gulls first ever re-sighting.  The duration, as with   2BBC , is now 8 years, 11 months and 24 days.

Common Gull  -    EW51760   (Upside-down Ring)  -  Millisle, Co. Down
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 23rd June 2009, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

The second 'metal-ringed' Common Gull, was the re-sighting of   EX38230 .  By the way, in which it was holding it's crippled left foot, I knew straight away, I had recorded this bird on a few previous occasions.  Ringed as a chick, on the 2nd June 2010, it only stayed with me for about 30 seconds and then flew off.  I still managed a couple of photos of it's ring and despite capturing a 'partial number', the 230, was all I needed to confirm the gull.

The duration, since being ringed, is now 8 years and 14 days, and today's sighting is my fifth record of the gull at Millisle.

Common Gull  -    EX38230   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 2nd June 2010, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

A very nervy 'metal-ringed' Black-headed Gull, landed briefly, before taking off again.  Only seven Black-headed gulls appeared throughout my visit to Millisle, but the 'metal-ringed' bird never re-appeared.  I managed two photos, one showing the gull and the other a zoomed in photo of the ring.

All I got of the code was -   *W48*** .  As it was a BTO ring, the missing first letter hidden by the seaweed, would be an ' E '.  On the 23rd December 2017, I recorded a BHG, here, ringed   EW48510 .  Today's sighting, might possibly have been, of the same bird.

Black-headed Gull  -    EW48***   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)

Herring Gull -   GA00153  (Upside-down ring), is another ever present on the seafront car park at Millisle.  It's favourite spot, is on the seawall, right next to a concrete slipway.  Every time, I go to Millisle, I see the gull, but most of the time, I don't need to confirm the ring number, I ignore it instead.  Today, I took a single photo - one each of the gull and ring.  Seeing '  53 ', was all I needed to know, to confirm my latest sighting.

  GA00153 , was mistakenly ringed as a Lesser Black-backed Gull chick, on the 22nd June 2005.  The duration, is now, 12 years, 11 months and 25 days.

Herring Gull  -    GA00153   (Upside-down Ring)  -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 22nd June 2005, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

Another Herring Gull, was spotted a good distance away from me, on Millisle beach.  Zooming in with my camera, I managed two photos, when a dog walker came along and scared the gull off.  The first photo, shows a slightly blurred picture of   1E:W , the second, a much clearer showing of it's ring.

This was my second sighting of   1E:W , having initially spotted it on the 12th March 2016, which at the time, was it's first ever sighting.  Marc Ruddock, saw the gull, on the 28th February 2017, at Donaghadee, just up the coast from Millisle.

  1E:W , is from a relatively new study, being carried out on the nearby Copeland Islands.  Ringed as an un-sexed adult (possibly breeding), on the 6th May 2015, the duration is now, 3 years, 1 month and 10 days.

Herring Gull  -    1E:W   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as an Adult, on the 6th May 2015, on The Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

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Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Special Chicks...

Very little has been done since my previous post.  One of the reasons for this, is due to a prolonged bout of a cold or flu.  As I write, I'm now into my fourth week and the now lessening bouts of coughing, can last as long as ten to fifteen minutes.  As can be imagined, my stomache muscles are often aching, especially in the area of my Hernia operation last autumn.  I have had it suggested to me, my symptoms are not unlike those of the Whooping Cough.  I loath to use medication of any sort and prefer to let symptoms sort themselves out.

I'm still having problems with my left foot, which I damaged at work on March 17th, when a heavy wooden pallet fell on it.  I'm trying to take it easy, as I'll have a lot of walking to do in two weeks time, when I start to visit Rathlin Island, to 'colour-ring' this year's Common Gull chicks.

Talking of Common Gull chicks, my Mediterranean x Common Gull pair, now have chicks of their own - read Sunday's account below.

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      Saturday 2nd June 2018       
It was quite late in the afternoon, before I was free to take a run out.  I therefore decided to undertake a short trip out, starting at Carnlough, and working my way southwards to the village of Glynn.

As I approached the highest point of the hills, on the road from Ballymena to Carnlough, I ran into fog.  On reaching Carnlough, there was a very heavy sea fog, and the gulls and waders on the shore were barely visible.  I could just scope, a few Oystercatchers, Dunlins and five young Black-headed Gulls, from last summers breeding season.

Just how lucky, can one be?  Amongst the five, was a bird with an 'Orange Darvic' - one of Adam's Study birds.  Zooming through the fog with my camera, I just about managed to capture it and the code on the ring -   2CNC .  I sent an email to Adam, but as yet, he has not replied.  I'm still waiting for him to send me the files for the gulls that I spotted at the RSPB's WoW Reserve in Belfast and at Castle Espie, these spotted on the 26th & 27th May.  He was supposed to send these on Monday 28th May.

Entering   2CNC , onto my spreadsheet and then pressing 'sort', the young gulls code fell in between those of   2CNB   and   2CPN , two other 2017 youngsters that I have spotted.  All these birds were ringed as chicks, on the 16th June 2017, at Blue Circle Island, on Larne Lough.  Until I receive a reply from Adam, I'm presuming my sighting of   2CNC , is the first record since being ringed.  Carnlough Beach lies 22 kms / 14 miles (NW), from Blue Circle Island.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CNC   -  Carnlough Bay, Co. Antrim  (02 Jun 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 16th June 2017, at Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim)

With the presence of the heavy sea fog, I decided that it would most likely to be a waste of fuel going anywhere else, so I returned home to watch the friendly football match between England and Nigeria.

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      Sunday 3rd June 2018       
Today, I just decided to visit Antrim, stopping by the Tesco Warehouse at the Kilbegs Industrial Estate and then on to Antrim Marina.

Arriving at the Warehouse, there was no birds sitting on the nest, which belonged to a special pair of gulls.  This pair of Mediterranean x Common Gulls, have this year nested on the exact same spot as they did in 2016 and 2017.  However, three chicks were spotted in the company of a Common Gull, on the roof ridge of the warehouse.

Around ten minutes later, the male (Med Gull), arrived, and he did not seem too pleased, at seeing his family away from the nest.  He promply set about, leading the three chicks back to the nest, and I managed to capture a few photos, despite the distance from where I was sitting, (on a fence overlooking the warehouse).

These are the first chicks, that this pair, have managed to hatch out, after three attempts.  Over the next few weeks, I'll be doing my best to keep track of these youngsters and see what developes.  It would be fantastic, to obtain photos of any surviving chicks, once they are fully feathered.

The Male leading his Family back to the Nest  (03 Jun 2018)

Back on the Nest  (03 Jun 2018)

In Digital Zoom  -  The Pair and Their Chicks  (03 Jun 2018)

Finishing at Antrim Marina, the Black-headed Gulls, were once again in short supply.  Very few arrived and landed anywhere, except for a few on lamposts - most of which, I could not see their legs.  I'm wanting to record the resident birds, especially any of those that were ringed here last winter, as I'm trying to record their status as residents or visitors.

So far, I have only recorded   2ADJ ,   2BRA   2AAA  and   2AAV .  Out on the 'Torpedo Platform', there surely has to be chicks, which should lead to adults visiting the Marina on a more regular basis.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed, that there will be an increase of birds to the Marina over the next few weeks.

29 Mute Swans were present, with all birds, preferring to remain on the river.  Not surprising really, as it was such a hot day, that the tarmac on the slipway, would have been roasting.

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