Thursday, 23 August 2018

New Rings - Old Rings...

As usual, I'm pushed for time.  Having been a 'Ring Reader' for a few years now, the info that I've gathered on each bird, is gradually becoming longer and longer, therefore taking more time, to cross reference sightings.  I don't know where I'd be, without the help of my 'sightings spreadsheet', which also takes up much time, adding durations, distances and links to photos and PDF files etc.  The spreadsheet, also contains a 'Blog Column', where I'm supposed to link my sightings to articles in the blog - this very much, is sadly lacking way behind.

Another young Polish Med Gull, has been sighted by Suzanne Belshaw.  Once, Suzanne, obtains confirmation of her sighting, I'll add a feature, about this and some of Suzanne's other recent sightings, in my next post.  More work, I know, but I think all ring sightings should be documented, which hopefully will encourage others to take up this sometimes challenging subject of 'Ring Reading'.

      Antrim Marina - Monday 20th August 2018       
Having stayed at home on Saturday, to do a few chores around my house and garden, I forsaked my Sunday visit to Antrim Marina, electing to call in today.  Arriving at 9.00am, I spent three hours there, before checking out the other three sites in Antrim Town.

Most of the morning, saw a lot of drizzly showers, which became heavy at times.  As of last week, the 'winter list' of colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls, had grown to 23 individuals.  Today, saw good numbers of BHGs, with 100 plus birds present for most of my visit.  However, only 13 'colour-ringed' gulls were recorded, which among them, saw the arrival of    2CSL , at 11.16.

Becoming the 24th BHG, to enter the 'winter list',   2CSL , was one of the 12 gulls that I caught and processed, as part of my ringing training to catch juvenile and adult birds.  Ringed on the 24th December 2017, the gull remained at Antrim Marina, until the 19th March 2018.  Ten days later, on the 29th March,   2CSL , was spotted at Olsztyn, in north-east Poland.

It's great to see the return of   2CSL , and I now await the return of another of those 12 gulls,   2CSF , which was spotted in Iceland, on the 12th July 2018.  I'm also keen to see the return of   2CSC .  This is a gull, that landed on my hand, to eat bread from my clenched fist, on the 5th November 2017.  At the time, I was certain, that it was the same bird, with the same habit, that appeared as a juvenile/1st winter bird in 2016.

Due to this habit, I easily caught this gull on the 19th November 2017, and it was ringed and 'colour-ringed',   2CSC .  I already know, that   2CSC , is a non-resident, due to it's behaviour in the past.  There has been no reports of the gull, during the summer,  but going by last autumn's appearance, I would expect to see it's return in late October or early November.

As several of the 'colour-ringed' gulls, recorded so far this winter, did not appear today, there was little chance of recording some of the other 'colour-ringed' birds that should have been recorded by now.  One of the gulls -   2AAV , that has been recorded at the Marina, this winter, did not appear today.  After leaving the Marina, I did find   2AAV , at it's other favourite winter haunt, at Antrim's Elim Church.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CSL   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (20 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 24th December 2017, at Antrim Marina)

Black-headed Gulls at Antrim Marina on Monday 20th August 2018
 2CJT   2ABK   2ABN   2AAK   2CSJ   2CSR   T35J 
 2CSA   2CSL   2ABS   2BRA   2ABL   2AAN    

Today's Absentees
 2AAT   2AAP   2AAA   2ADJ   2AAB   2ABF   2AAV   2ACV   2CSB   2CSK   2CSS 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
Not a single Mute Swan, appeared at the Marina, during my visit.  I really need them, to help me catch some new BHGs for ringing, as they nip in to grab bread at the feet of the Swans.  At present, the Black-headed Gulls, are too wary and not hungry enough to be caught by hand at the window of the car.

Mallard numbers, were again good, throughout my visit.  I made a head count on arrival, which saw 81 ducks present altogether.  No second count was made, but I'd guess the total number remained around the 80 mark.

A single Herring Gull, along with a single Lesser Black-backed Gull, were present for most of my visit, just being away for minutes at a time.  A 2nd, Lesser Black-backed, arrived at 10.55 and interacted with the first bird, making me think that they were a pair.  3 adult Common Gulls, arrived at 09.36, and came and went throughout the morning.  I'm fairly sure, that they were the same birds, on each re-appearance.  The over-friendly juvenile, did not show up today.

The call of a Kingfisher, drew my attention to the river, where I spotted it flying at speed past the Marina, heading upriver.  Other species recorded, were, 2 Hooded Crows, 1 juvenile Magpie, 1 Rook and 11 Jackdaws, 4 of which were juveniles.

Antrim's Elim Church, KFC & Baptist Church
At the Elim Church, I attracted around 30 Black-headed Gulls, along with a single Common Gull, to me with a bread offering.    2AAV , appeared, who had not been recorded at Antrim Marina today.

Moving on to the car park, at Antrim's KFC outlet, no rings were spotted among the 30'ish BHGs present there.  The Norwegian   JK35 , should be back again now, so hopefully, it will be present next time I come here.

At the Baptist Church, far few BHGs were present, as compared to my last visit here two weeks ago.  Estimating around 50 to 60 birds, the Polish (White) TY43, was spotted on the roof of the Church.  This is my second sighting of TY43, since it's return from Poland.  I tried to report my first sighting onto the 'Live' Polish Ringing Database, but the site was down, so I'll have another go soon.

Black-headed Gull  -  White TY43  -  Antrim Baptist Church, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (20 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as a 2nd Calendar Year Bird, on the 9th February 2012, at Olsztyn, Poland)


      Ringing Details Received       
Ewan Weston, has replied, having been away for the last couple of months.  The Sandwich Tern (White) EHL, that I spotted at Whitehead, on the 4th August 2018, was also spotted by Cameron Moore, at Whitehead, in July 2015.  Ringed as an Un-sexed adult, on the 17th August 2010, on the Ythan Estuary, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the only other sightings of (White) EHL, have been at Port Seton, in Morayshire, Scotland - August 2014, July 2016 and August 2016.  My thanks to Ewan, for the info.


      Sunday 19th August 2018       
Staying at home on Saturday, to work around the garden, I took off early this morning, starting at the village of Cushendun, which lies fairly north on the east coast of County Antrim and worked my way slowly towards Belfast, finishing at Whitehouse Lagoon.

At Cushendun, I couldn't have made a better start, spotting a 'Blue Darvic', at the village's harbour.  I knew straight away, that this would be one of the chicks, that I ringed this summer on Rathlin Island.  Grabbing the camera, I captured a few pictures and the ring code -   2BCL .

I ringed   2BCL , on the 18th June 2018, on the island's Ushet Lough.  My sighting, is the first record of a 2018 rung Common Gull, spotted away from Rathlin Island.  Two months and one day, has elapsed since   2BCL   was ringed, the young gull, having moved 18 kms / 11 miles (SSE).

Common Gull  -    2BCL   -  Cushendun Harbour, Co. Antrim  (19 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 18th June 2018, on Ushet Lough, Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim)

I moved slowly southwards, checking gulls and waders, at many places, but no further rings were spotted until I reached Carrickfergus.  Here, I was going to try and locate BHG   2ADD , at the town's harbour.  I turned in off the main road, to find a band was playing beside the wall of the castle, which sits beside the harbour.

I think the band belonged to the Salvation Army, and it and the castle, were drawing in too many people, for my attempt to lure in the gulls.

I therefore moved on to Rhanbouy Park, on the town's southern fringes.  Here, I wanted to see if the Norwegian Black-headed Gull, -   JJ02 , had returned.  Driving by some gulls, perched on the sea wall, I spotted a Common Gull, with a 'metal-ring'.  I swung into action with the bread, and camera at hand.  I soon had two Common Gulls and a handful of Black-headed Gulls, beside my car.

In no time at all, I had enough photos of the Common Gull and it's ring, to check the pictures to see if I could complete the ring number, which read -   EW51632 .

Later that evening, I reported my sighting on the BTO's DemOn Database, but also checked the Copeland ringing records supplied to me by Shane Wolsey, who ringed Common Gulls there between 2009 and 2014.  Sure enough,   EW51632 , had been ringed on Big Copeland Island, on the 6th June 2009.  Having entered the ring number on DemOn, I could see that there have been no previous sightings of this gull.

Rhanbouy Park, is just 19 kms / 11 miles (WNW), from Big Copeland Island, and the duration is 9 years, 2 months and 13 days.

Common Gull  -    EW51632   -  Rhanbouy Park, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim  (19 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 6th June 2009, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)

Moving on to the dead end of Rhanbouy Park, I started to scope the gulls, bathing in the Woodburn River, which flows over the shore and into Belfast Lough.  Here, there were up to 200 gulls, being, Lesser Black-backed, Herring, Common and Black-headed Gulls.  Not a single ring was spotted, but I noticed a flock of seabirds, a few hundred yards further south, perched on the shoreline.

I drove around to a small car park, near to where these birds were located.  Scoping them, I could see that the majority of the birds here, were Sandwich Terns and I knew finding a 'colour-ring' or two was a distinct possibility.

But then, I spotted a 'Green Darvic', on a Black-headed Gull.  Camera out, I soon captured the code, and it was the gull I was looking for -   JJ02 .  I first recorded the code here last winter, having just spotted a 'Green Darvic' in 2016, which was mostly likely to have been the same gull.

I recorded   JJ02 , twice last winter - on the 14th November 2017 and the 10th February 2018, here at Rhanbouy Park.  During the past summer,   JJ02 , was recorded five times in Norway, just a few kilometres away from where it had been ringed.    JJ02 , was ringed as an adult female, on the 12th June 2014, at St. Hanshaugen, Oslo.  The distance to Rhanbouy Park, is 1,148 kms / 713 miles (WSW).

Black-headed Gull  -    JJ02   -  (just south of) Rhanbouy Park, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim  (19 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as an Adult Female, on the 12th June 2014, at St. Hanshaugen, Oslo, Oslo, Norway)

With   JJ02   sorted, my attention went back onto the Sandwich Terns.  Around 50 terns were present, seven or eight, having 'metal rings', which were of no use to me, due to the distance involved.  Two 'colour-ringed' birds were spotted, one with a 'Red Darvic' and the other had a 'White Darvic'.

With the Terns, constantly moving about, sometimes flying off and returning, it was very difficult to try and obtain photos.  Eventually, I decided, that I had enough pictures, whereas, I could read the codes, and retreated back to my car.  Looking through these, I had recorded three birds altogether, two with 'White Darvic's'.

These two with 'White Darvic's', were new sightings to me, whilst the one with the 'Red Darvic', was that of a tern, which Cameron Moore, spotted at Whitehead, last year, but this was also my first sighting of the bird.

I reported (White) EFA and (White) EBL, to Ewan Weston, of the Grampian Ringing Group, in Scotland.  Fortunately for me, Ewan, was just back online, having been away for a couple of months and sent me the ringing And re-sighting details for both terns, plus that of (White) EHL, that I recorded a couple of weeks ago, at Whitehead (see Ringing Details above).

White EFA, was ringed as a chick, on the 2nd June 2016, at Forvie National Nature Reserve, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.  After fledging, it was seen locally there, on the Ythan Estuary (Jul 2016), before being spotted at Port Seton, Morayshire, (twice) later the same month.  From then, until my sighting, EFA, was recorded twice near Swakopmund, Namibia, in Africa - (Feb 2017 & Apr 2018).  From Forvie NNR, to Rhanbouy Park, the distance is 376 kms / 228 miles (SW).

Sandwich Tern  -  White EFA  -  (just south of) Rhanbouy Park, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim  (19 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 2nd June 2016, at Forvie National Nature Reserve, Aberdeenshire, Scotland)

White EBL, was also ringed as a chick, on the 2nd June 2016, again, at Forvie NNR.  Spotted twice locally there on the Ythan Estuary (Jul 2016), it was recorded later that same month at Port Seton.  From this point, EBL, had gone un-recorded, until I saw it at Rhanbouy Park - 376 kms / 228 miles (SW).

Sandwich Tern  -  White EBL  -  (just south of) Rhanbouy Park, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim  (19 Aug 2018)
Ringed as a Chick, on the 2nd June 2016, at Forvie National Nature Reserve, Aberdeenshire, Scotland)

  KDJ , was a tern that I reported on last year, having been spotted by Cameron Moore, at Whitehead, situated a few kilometres north from today's sighting at Rhanbouy Park, Carrickfergus.  It was ringed as a juvenile on the 30th August 2015, on the Ynyslas National Nature Reserve, near Aberystwyth, Dyfed, Wales.

I decided, not to contact, the ringing co-ordinator of   KDJ , about my sighting of the tern.  Last year's reply was so vague, I couldn't even obtain the 'metal' number for   KDJ , which I use for index purposes on my 'sightings spreadsheet'.  I entered my sighting, on the BTO's DemOn Database, to discover, that this was the first reported sighting of   KDJ .

This means, that Cameron's sighting last year, or for that matter, any other sightings of   KDJ , have never been submitted directly to the BTO.  This is something, that I also discovered just recently.  Having taken over the 'colour-rings' used by Shane Wolsey on Common Gulls here, between 2009 and 2014, it appears, several re-sighting reports, were never submitted to the BTO.  I had pondered on the idea, of submitting historical records, but have decided against it for now, as this would be too time consuming and I'm busy enough at present.

Anyhow, the distance from Ynyslas NNR, to Rhanbouy Park, is 272 kms / 169 miles (WNW).

Sandwich Tern  -    KDJ   -  (just south of) Rhanbouy Park, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim  (19 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Juvenile, on the 30th August 2015, at Ynyslas National Nature Reserve, Dyfed, Wales)

Leaving Carrickfergus, my next stop, would have been, the shoreline at Whiteabbey.  By the time I reached Whiteabbey, the tide was in and the shoreline was gone.  I went on to Whitehouse Lagoon, which was slowly being flooded, by the incoming tide.

A good number of gulls and waders, of various species, were present.  Notably, there was a flock of 100 plus Oystercatchers and 300 to 350 Black-tailed Godwits, but they were still a good distance away from me.  Surely, there had to be 'colour-rings' amongst these, I thought.  I now played the long waiting game, for the incoming tide, to push these birds nearer.

While I was waiting, I spotted two Black-headed Gulls, with Orange Darvic's.  One of these two, was limping very badly and stood on one leg, hiding the colour-coded ring.  This bird, eventually flew off, so I never got the chance to capture the code.

The other Black-headed Gull, was initially out of camera range, but after a while, I managed to read the code -   2ASF .  This gull, was ringed as a chick, in June 2013, at Blue Circle Island, in Larne Lough - 20 kms / 12 miles (NE), from Whitehouse Lagoon.  A regular winter visitor here,   2ASF , had bred at the nearby RSPB Window on Wildlife Reserve, for the third year running in 2018.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ASF   -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast  (19 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 18th June 2013, on Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim)

With the tide, starting to push the waders closer to me, some of the Oystercatchers, had moved, revealing a bird standing on one leg, with a Black 'colour-ring'.  I knew straight away, that this was the Icelandic bird, which was initially recorded here during the winter of 2015/16.  There should have been a 'Green flag', above the Black ring, but this had fallen off by April 2016.

I had to wait ages, to confirm the two colour-rings on the other leg, which would have been Green over White.  By this time, I had now spotted a 'colour-ringed' Black-tailed Godwit, also standing on one leg, with Orange over a 'Red flag'.

The Oystercatcher, was the first to be confirmed, being GW-GfN.  Ringed as a breeding adult, in June 2015, GW-GfN, has since been recorded here each winter since and back in Iceland, during the summers of 2016 and 2017.  I reported my sighting to Böddi, but received a holiday reply, stating that, he will be out of office, until the 29th August.  I will have to wait, to see if GW-GfN, was re-sighted back in Iceland over this past summer.

Oystercatcher  -  G(reen)W(hite) - G(reen flag)N(iger)  -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast  (19 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Breeding Adult, on the 5th June 2015, at Mjóanef, Eystri Rangá, Southern Iceland)

I was now waiting on the Black-tailed Godwit.  By now, the Lagoon, was filling up rapidly, which caused the break up of a large group of Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls.  This revealed a 'colour-ringed' juvenile Herring Gull, but despite the long distance, my camera captured the code - (White) 39N:C.

Although the characters appear to be black in the photo, I knew that the :C, meant that this bird was ringed by the Clyde Ringing Group, in Scotland, and they use 'White Darvic's', with Red characters.  I reported my sighting to the Group's Ringing Secretary - Iain Livingstone.

As yet, Iain, does not have the gulls details, but thinks the bird could have been ringed on the Isle of Arran.  He will trace the ringer, and report back to me, as soon as he can. 

Herring Gull  -  39N:C  -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast  (19 Aug 2018)
(Waiting on the Ringing Details)

Finally, after a long, long, wait, the Black-tailed Godwits, had moved enough to reveal both legs of my 'colour-ringed' bird.  The two colour-rings on it's other leg, were Green over Green.

On returning home, I checked my spreadsheet, to discover, this bird was no stranger to me.  I had recorded the bird twice, on the nearby Dargan Mudflats, in July and September 2016.  Ringed as a chick, on the 16th July 2007, over the years, this bird has been re-sighted more times in Northern Ireland, than in Iceland.

Barring, it's own country of origin, GG-ORf, has not been recorded in any other country.  It was seen in western Iceland in April 2010, and in eastern Iceland, in April 2014.  All Northern Ireland sightings, have been around Belfast (Whitehouse Lagoon, Window on Wildlife Reserve and the Dargan Mudflats), except for (Oct) 2007, when it was seen at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre and on Strangford Lough.

I'll have to wait until Böddi, returns to his office, to see where GG-ORf, has been since 2016.

Black-tailed Godwit  -  G(reen)G(reen) - O(range)R(ed flag)  -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast  (19 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 16th July 2007, at Sydsti-mor, W. of Langhus, Northern Iceland)


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