Saturday, 18 August 2018

Late Again...

I'm running behind again as usual.  When I do get time to work on the laptop, I find much of my time, is taken up by entering data and links to my spreadsheet.  Folders, have to be created for all new sightings, and photos, PDF Files, BTO Recovery details, etc., have to be moved into them.  On top of all this, I'm receiving a constant flow of emails, concerning sightings and other 'birdie' related items, and these have to be answered.

Also, at home, there has been a major problem, with the roof of my garden shed.  During recent downpours, water had flooded into the shed.  The cause of this, was a long tear, in the felt, which either has been caused by strong winds, or possibly kids, who could easily reach, by standing on top of a tall wall, situated beside the shed.

Instead of re-felting the roof, I opted to purchase corrugated tin, which I had to measure and cut to length.  The tin, is now in place, but still needs to be screwed down, as it is weighted down, with long posts and breeze blocks.  If only the rain would cease for a few hours, so I can make a start.  Again, all this, consumes time, which is really needed to spend in other directions.

      Antrim Marina - Monday 13th August 2018       
Having had little time to get out and about on Saturday, I decided to forgo my Sunday visit to Antrim Marina, settling for a Monday visit instead.  Sunday, was used for a lengthy visit to numerous sites in County Down.

Two days after my first winter visit to the Marina (5th Aug), I received another email from Steven Fyffe.  He had called in briefly to the Marina, on the 2nd & 7th August, recording 5 of Adam's gulls.  Although, these reports were slightly out of sync, from my first two visits, another gull was entered onto the overall 'winter list', when  Steven recorded   2AAT , on the 7th.    2AAT , a year round resident, took the 'winter list' of sightings to 20 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls.

 2CSA   2ACV   2AAT   2CJT   2AAN 
Black-headed Gulls Spotted by Steven Fyffe on the 2nd & 7th August 2018

Moving my weekly visit to a Monday, means I can only survey for three hours, instead of the usual four.  After leaving the Marina, I spend upwards of an hour, visiting three other sites around Antrim Town, then need to return home.  Once back, this gives me a little time, to enter my sightings onto the laptop, before preparing myself for work.

A total of 18 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, were recorded during my three hour visit, which included three new birds to the 'winter list'.  With the addition of   2AAP ,   2CSK   &   2CSS , the overall total moved to 23 individuals.    2AAP , is considered to be a resident, whilst the residential status of   2CSK   &   2CSS , is not clear.  These latter two birds, were caught and ringed here last winter, but despite several summer visits, few gulls were actually recorded.

With the winter list already starting to take shape, a couple of gulls, that normally, would have been recorded by now, have not shown up.  These are   2AAC , a resident,   2ABA , a non-resident, which normally returns in mid to late July, and   2ANS , considered to be another resident, whose appearances have become less regular, the older it becomes.    2ANS , was caught and ringed as a 1st winter bird, in November 2015.  It's too early, to write these birds off, but hopefully, they'll turn up soon.

The commencement of each winter's visits, usually sees the absence of one or two gulls from Adam's Study.  Eventually, after a continued absence, the decision is made, that those birds had perished over the course of the breeding season.  Last winter, it was   2AAH   and   2AAD , that failed to make it back, with   2AAF   going missing shortly after I re-commenced my weekly visits.

Black-headed Gulls Recorded at Antrim Marina, on Monday 13th August 2018
 2AAK   2CJT   2ADJ   2CSK   2AAA   2ABF   2CSS   T35J   2AAP 
 2ABL   2ABS   2CSB   2CSJ   2CSA   2ACV   2ABN   2AAV   2ABK 

Monday's Absentee's
 2AAT   2AAB   2AAN   2BRA   2CSR 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
Two adult Common Gulls and the very 'forward' juvenile, plus the odd Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gull's, were the only gulls, to be seen at the Marina today.  Coming and going, all the time, I think the same individuals were involved each time.  Only the juvenile Common Gull, remained throughout my visit, and was often tantalisingly close to being caught and ringed.  Oh, how I would like to get my hands on this one.

I had placed a net, up against, one of the bollards, but at present, the gulls are too wary of it, and not hungry enough to venture near.  I'm going to re-position the net, at the same spot, during each visit and I should be able to capture a gull or two in the future.

At the moment, I'm ruing the lack of Mute Swans.  I like to use them, to catch the gulls.  When placing bread at the feet of the swans, the gulls try to nip in to grab a piece, that's when I grab them for ringing.  It was late on, into my visit, when the adult pair, along with their five cygnets, appeared from up-river.  At this point, most of the gulls had, had their fill, with bread being thrown out to the ducks.

Mallard numbers, were fairly constant, with around 50 to 60 birds at all times.  It's been a long while now, since I have spotted rings on these.

11 Jackdaws, 6 of which, were juveniles, plus a single juvenile Magpie, were the only other species to be recorded.

Antrim's Elim Church & KFC Car Park
An offering of bread at both sites, attracted a small number of Black-headed Gulls, at each site, but no rings were spotted.  The Norwegian   JK35 , is now due, but not seen today.  I'm wondering on the status of this Black-headed Gull, as it was not spotted back in Norway, during the summer.  Keeping my fingers crossed, on the return of this bird.


      Ringing Details Received       
In a recent post, I reported on the sighting of a Lesser Black-backed Gull - White 7E1:C, perched on the rooftop, of the factory, where I work at.

I have now received the ringing details from both, the BTO, and Iain Livinstone, ringing secretary of The Clyde Ringing Group.  White 7E1:C, was ringed as a chick, on the 9th July 2015, at Horse Island Nature Reserve, Ayrshire, in Scotland.  My sighting, was the first record of the gull, since being ringed.  The distance was given as, 125 kms / 77 miles (SW), from the ringing site, the duration being, 3 years and 24 days.

Adam McClure, has now sent me the PDF File, for a Black-headed Gull, which I ringed at Antrim Marina, last winter.    2CSF , was ringed as a 2nd winter bird, on the 26th November 2017, using one on my 'metal-rings', and Adam's, 'colour-ring'.  Although Adam, sent me a text message, back in July, stating that   2CSF , had been sighted in northern Iceland, but I did not have the details until now.

  2CSF , was spotted, on the 12th July 2018, in the Icelandic town of Akureyri, on the western edge of the Eyjafjordur fiord.  The distance, is roughly 1,379 kms / 857 miles, north-west, from Antrim Marina.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CSF   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (17 Dec 2017)
(Ringed at Antrim Marina, on the 26th November 2017)


      Saturday 11th August 2018       
Due to other commitments, I wasn't able to get out to do some birding until the mid afternoon.  As I only had a few hours available, I started the afternoon at Larne, moving southwards, finishing off at Whitehouse Lagoon, just to the north of Belfast.

Despite checking several sites for rings, three were recorded in Carrickfergus.  The first one of these, was   2ADB , at the town's harbour.  From Adam McClure's Northern Ireland Study,   2ADB , was caught and ringed, as an adult male, at the harbour, on the 25th November 2013.  The gull, has a long list of re-sightings at the harbour, with most being made during the winter months.

However, over the last two years, a couple of sightings (May 2017) & (Jun 2018), plus a couple of early July sightings, has me wondering, whether it could possibly be nesting somewhere around Carrickfergus.  Perhaps, there is a rooftop colony somewhere within the town, which has not been discovered.  On the other hand,   2ADB's , nesting attempt at some distant colony, may have failed, leading to an early return.

I took a photo of   2ADB , whilst it perched on the bonnet of my car, but having took it through the windscreen, it was too blurred to be used.

The other two ringed gulls, were located at the Leisure Centre, in Carrickfergus.  The presence of one of these,   2CPS , was a bird that I knew frequented the ponds at the Centre, but this was actually my first sighting of the gull.    2CPS , was ringed last year, as a chick, at Blue Circle Island, a few miles to the north, on Larne Lough.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CPS   -  Carrickfergus Leisure Centre, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim  (11 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 16th June 2017, on Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim)

The third gull, a Common Gull, was a new sighting, bearing a 'metal-ring'.  As usual with 'metals', I set about, taking lots of photos of the ring, with the camera.  I returned to my car and checked to see what I had captured and the ring number, was easily completed, reading   EX38066 .

Although, I reported the gull, through the BTO's DemOn Database, I also checked the number on the ringing data supplied to me by Shane Wolsey, who studied Common Gulls between 2009 and 2014, on the Copeland Islands, in County Down.  Shane, had ringed   EX38066 , as a chick, on the 1st June 2010.  The duration since ringing, was 8 years, 2 months and 10 days, the distance being 19 kms / 11 miles (WNW).

Common Gull  -    EX38066   -  Carrickfergus Leisure Centre, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim  (11 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 1st June 2010, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)

While taking photos of the ring, I noticed a very large gap between the ring butts.  The gap was very concerning, as the gull could be prone to getting caught up in wire or netting, which could lead to it's death.

Unlike the majority of Common Gulls,   EX38066 , made very close approaches to me, sneaking in to grab bits of bread, that I'd thrown down at the feet of the Greylag Geese.  I decided to return to my car, to collect the ringing pliers and one of my 'Blue Darvics'.  Returning, to tighten the 'metal-ring' and add the 'colour-ring',   EX38066 , had disappeared.

Gap in the Ring Butt of Common Gull  -    EX38066  


      Sunday 12th August 2018       
I skipped my visit to Antrim Marina today, opting for a long distance outing to County Down.  My starting point, was a first ever visit to the fishing town of Kilkeel and slowly worked my way back to the western shores of Strangford Lough.

I checked the legs of hundreds and hundreds of gulls, at numerous sites, and at the end of the afternoon, finishing at Killyleagh, spotted just a single 'metal', on a Common Gull.  This one, was at Millquarter Bay, but was too far away, to attempt to take any photos.

The only highlights, were the sightings of two un-ringed Mediterranean Gulls.  The first of these, was a juvenile, spotted among Black-headed Gulls, on a rooftop at Kilkeel Harbour.  The other, was a full adult, seen at Millquarter Bay.

As mentioned above, I made my first ever visit to Kilkeel.  Around the harbour, may well provide ring sightings, as a couple of hundred gulls, were spread out over a large distance on the rooftops there.  One particular building, with no easy access, had at least 150 Black-headed Gulls.  The gates to this building, were locked for the weekend.


      From John Clarke       
My ringing trainer, John Clarke, has been in contact again.  On the 9th August, he came across a Black-headed Gull - ringed   J47T , at the Strand Road Jetty, in Coleraine, Co. Londonderry.  Having sent me a text message, about the sighting, I informed John, that his gull was from Norway.  John, gave me the go-ahead, to check up his sighting on the 'Live' Norwegian Ringing Database.

In no time, I was sharing, the ringing details of   J47T , with John.  It was ringed as a chick, on the 19th June 2015, in Norway, and this was it's first recorded sighting in Northern Ireland.  In Norway   J47T , has been recorded on numerous occasions since being ringed, within kilometres of it's natal colony.

What really stands out about   J47T's , re-sighting history, are two records from Spain.  On the 25th January 2016, as a 1st winter bird, it was spotted at Limpias, near the northern Spanish coast, a staggering (for a young BHG), 1,840 kms / 1,143 miles (SSW).  It was re-sighted at the same locality, on the 21st January 2018.

The last sighting of   J47T , in Norway, was on the 9th July 2018, a month before John spotted the gull in Coleraine.  If the bird is on it's way back to winter in Spain, it's making an odd detour to the route it should be taking.  Instead of flying south-south-west, it has already flown 860 kms / 534 miles, west-south-west, to reach Coleraine.

My thanks to John, for sharing his sighting and for providing the photo.  As far as I know,   J47T , is the first Norwegian Black-headed Gull to be recorded in Northern Ireland, this winter.

Black-headed Gull  -  Norway    J47T   -  Strand Road Jetty, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry  (09 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 19th June 2015,  Boganesholmane, Stavanger, Norway)
(Photo Courtesy of John Clarke)


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