Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Mini Med Invasion...

      Mini Med Gull Invasion       
There has been an interesting 'Mini Invasion' of young 'colour-ringed', Mediterranean Gulls, arriving into Northern Ireland, that had been ringed within three European countries.  Five of these young gulls, had confirmed ring codes.  Another, was suspected to be an incorrect reading, of one of the five confirmed birds, and a final two young gulls, had yellow colour-rings, on which their codes were not read (as far as I know).

As well as these young Med sightings, one adult was also recorded, whose ring code was successfully read.

I have been in contact, with Andreas Zours, who has filled me in about the German-rung gulls and has granted me permission, to use their data for this post.  For this, my thanks goes out to Andreas and the rest of the Leipzig Ringing Team.

17th July 2018
It all began at the coastal village of Whitehead, situated on County Antrim's east coast.  A German-rung Med Gull,   AY.KA , was spotted by Cameron Moore, who informed me of his sighting and I then contacted Andreas by email, with a photo taken by Cameron attached.

Mediterranean Gull  -    AY.KA   -  Whitehead, Co. Antrim  (17 Jul 2018)
(Photo Courtesy of Cameron Moore)

We had to wait for a short period of time for a reply, as we received a holiday reply from Andreas.  Eventually, the reply came, informing us that   AY.KA , had been ringed as a chick, on the 8th June 2018, at the Rehbach Gravel Pits, near Leipzig.  After being ringed,   AY.KA , was recorded at the Gravel Pits, on three occasions - 25th June, 28th June & 3rd July.

Two weeks later, (17th July), it was then spotted by Cameron, having flown 1,263 kms / 784 miles (WNW), to reach Whitehead.  Andreas, also included a photo of   AY.KA , taken at the time of ringing.

Mediterranean Gull  -    AY.KA   -  Rehbach Gravel Pit, Leipzig, Germany  (08 Jun 2018)
(Photo Taken at the Time of Ringing, Courtesy of the Leipzig Ringing Team)

18th July 2018
Following Cameron's sighting, I then received an email from Graham McElwaine, who is the ringing secretary of the Irish Brent Goose Research Group and an accomplished 'Ring Reader'.  Graham, spotted an adult Mediterranean Gull, with a 'Red Darvic', at Millquarter Bay, on (the inner) Strangford Lough, in County Down.  Having read the code as   PPN5 , Graham, gave me the go-ahead, to follow up his sighting.

I entered it's details on the 'Live' Polish Ringing Database and a couple of days later, received an email, accepting the sighting.    PPN5 , was ringed as a chick, on the 20th May 2014, and since then, has already accumulated an interesting re-sighting history.

Ringed, on an island, on Lake Ryńskie, Rybical, in north-east Poland, it was re-sighted there on the 11th June 2014.  A month later, on the 12th July 2014,   PPN5 , had flown 1,344 kms / 835 miles (west), to reach Orfordness, in Suffolk, England, when spotted by Mike Marsh.

The next two sightings, were in Scotland, where David Jardine, recorded   PPN5 , on the Isle of Luing, Argyll & Bute, on the 12th September 2015 and on the 10th October 2015.

France, was the next destination for   PPN5 , when Patrice Berthelot, spotted the gull on the western coast, at Paimpol, on the 18th March 2016.  By May 2016,   PPN5 , was back in Poland, 34 kms (WNW), from it's original ringing site.  A group of observers, spotted   PPN5 , at Polder Sątopy-Samulewo, on the 19th May.

From here,   PPN5 , went un-recorded, until Graham came across it at Millquarter Bay, on the 18th July 2018.  At just over 4 years and a month since being ringed, this bird has already gathered an interesting re-sighting history.

My thanks to Graham, for sharing his sighting, unfortunately, Graham did not have his camera handy at the time.

20th July 2018
Today, saw two reports on the Northern Ireland Birdwatching Association Website, concerning juvenile Mediterranean Gulls.  One was spotted on the north coast of County Antrim, on Rathlin Island.  This un-ringed bird, was reported by Ric Else.

Stuart McKee, reported the second bird, at the RSPB's Window on Wildlife Reserve, in Belfast, this one being 'colour-ringed'.  Identified, as being German-rung, the gull was reported to Andreas Zours, as   AY.IT .  Unfortunately, this code had not been used on any of the Leipzig gulls, so the record could not be accepted.

29th July 2018
However, Ian Enlander, contacted me on the 29th July, having spotted two juvenile Med Gulls, at Belfast's Victoria Park, both bearing 'colour-rings'.  The first one, with a 'Yellow-Darvic', was a German bird -   AY.LT , which surely was the same gull, spotted by Stuart on the 18th July, on the nearby WoW Reserve.

I reported   AY.LT , on Ian's behalf, and was informed that the gull was also from the Rehbach Gravel Pits, again ringed on the 8th June 2018.  After being ringed,   AY.LT , was recorded on the Gravel Pits, on the 26th June and the 23rd July 2018, before being spotted in Belfast.  Ian, did not have his camera with him at Victoria Park, but Andreas, sent me a photo of   AY.LT , taken at the time of ringing.

Mediterranean Gull  -    AY.LT   -  Rehbach Gravel Pits, Leipzig, Germany  (08 Jun 2018)
(Photo Taken at the Time of Ringing, Courtesy of the Leipzig Ringing Team)

The second young Mediterranean Gull, spotted by Ian, at Belfast's, Victoria Park, had a White Darvic, reading 339J.  It was ringed as a chick, on the 15th June 2018, at Slijkplaat Island, Haringvliet Inlet, in Holland.  Ian's, was the first re-sighting of the gull since being ringed, 1 month and 14 days earlier, having flown 736 kms / 457 miles (NW), to reach Victoria Park.

Whilst Ian was busy recording Med Gulls at Victoria Park, I too, came across a young one, at the Castle Espie Wetand Centre, in County Down.  Roosting among Oystercatchers & Black-headed Gulls, presumably, waiting for the tide to recede, I just managed to capture it's code on a 'Red Darvic' -   PYU8 .

On returning home, I reported my sighting on the 'Live' Polish Ringing Database and soon had the sighting verified.    PYU8 , was ringed on the 6th June 2018, on an island, on Lake Ryńskie, Rybical, in north-east Poland.  Strangely enough, this is where   PPN5 , was ringed, as mentioned above.  Could it have been possible, that these two arrived into Northern Ireland together?

We'll never know the answer to this one, but   PYU8 , had flown 1,757 kms / 1,091 miles (WNW), to reach Castle Espie, 1 month and 23 days, after being ringed.

Mediterranean Gull  -  Poland    PYU8   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (29 Jul 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 6th June 2018, at Rybical, Poland)

On top of the three young Med Gulls found today, Ian Enlander, also informed me, that another young German Med Gull, had been reported at Antrim Marina, the previous day (28th).

On the 1st August, I then received an email from Steven Fyffe, who rings with the Causeway Coast Ringing Group.  Steven, had visited Antrim Marina, twice, which is my main 'winter' study site, and recorded several 'colour-ringed' gulls.  These included, Black-headed Gulls, from Adam McClure's Study, the Lithuanian - White T35J, and a mis-identified gull, which Steven thought was a young Common Gull - ringed   AY.KY .

I informed Steven, that his Common Gull, was actually, a German ringed Mediterranean Gull, but I did not question the dates he had given for his visits, which were the 30th July & 1st August.  I presumed, that Steven, discovered   AY.KY , on the 28th, and had wrote the 30th by accident.  I suggested, that he should report his sighting to Andreas and requested a copy of the ringing details when received.

No sooner had I replied to Steven, when I received an email from my ringing trainer, John Clarke.  He had visited the McDonalds fast food outlet in Coleraine, where he discovered   AY.KY .  The young gull, had now moved another 52 kms / 33 miles (NW), from Antrim to Coleraine.

When I eventually obtained a copy of the gulls re-sighting history, I discovered, that a Stephen Foster, had first re-sighted   AY.KY , on the 28th July, followed by Steven Fyffe, on the 30th July and then by John Clarke, on the 1st August.

Mediterranean Gull  -     AY.KY   -  McDonald Fast Food Outlet, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry  (01 Aug 2018)
(Photo Courtesy of John Clarke)

Ringed as a chick on the 8th June 2018,   AY.KY , makes up the trio of young Med Gulls, from the Rehbach Gravel Pits, at Leipzig, which have been spotted in Northern Ireland this autumn.

Mediterranean Gull  -    AY.KY   -  Rehbach Gravel Pits, Leipzig, Germany  (08 Jun 2018)
(Photo Taken at the Time of Ringing, Courtesy of the Leipzig Ringing Team)

My thanks goes to, Cameron Moore, Ian Enlander, Steven Fyffe, Stephen Foster and John Clarke, who supplied information and photos, of our 'Mini Med Gull Invasion'.

As well as the five young Meds mentioned, another two with yellow 'colour-rings', were reported on the Northern Ireland Birdwatching Association Website.

These were spotted by Colin Guy, on the 3rd August, at Cushendun, a very small village on the County Antrim coast.  I copied and edited the photo, that appeared on the Website, and sent it to Andreas, to see what he could make of the ring code.

Unfortunately, neither Andreas or the Leipzig Ringing Team, could identify the code, but said it looked like   AP.** .  The codes, they have used so far, begin with either   AP ,   AT   or   AY , so this could well be another German bird.

I do not have an email address for Colin, therefore I cannot contact him directly.  I hope Colin or the NIBA, does not mind me using the photo.  It would be great to know however, if Colin, had read the ring codes.  I would be grateful to hear from Colin, if any of my readers can direct him in my direction.

Mediterranean Gull  -  Cushendun, Co. Antrim  (03 Aug 2018)
(Photo Courtesy of Colin Guy)

All in all, we have had a nice run of European Med Gull sightings recently, but as I'm about to publish this post, it's all gone very quite again.  Where are these gulls now?


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