Thursday, 30 August 2018

Well Travelled Med...

I've held off from publishing this post, on the hope, that some ringing information would arrive.  Now that it is Thursday, I'll wait no longer.  I'm also ready to post an article, about sightings made by Suzanne Belshaw.  Here, I'm waiting on the ringing details for a young Herring Gull, that Suzanne spotted.  Among her other sightings, are that of another young Polish Mediterranean Gull and a re-sighting of an ageing 'metal-rung' Common Gull.  I'll hold off for another few days, but will go ahead with the post, before my next regular posting.

      Antrim Marina - Monday 27th August 2018       
Once again, I opted for a Monday visit to Antrim Marina.  Having not got away on Saturday, this left me Sunday, free to spend several hours looking for rings elsewhere, with good success.

The visit today, saw overcast conditions, with a fairly strong wind, blowing in from the Lough.  The wind was quite chilly for this time of the year, and on occasions, I could hardly feel my finger tips.

I was half an hour later, on reaching the Marina, my visit lasting from 9.30am until mid-day.  All through, Black-headed Gull numbers, always exceed the one hundred mark, though some birds, were clearly coming and going.

The visit, was fairly routine, with no new ring sightings being recorded.  Of the 24 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, recorded so far this winter, 21 of them, were spotted today.

I'm becoming more concerned after each visit, about the non-appearance of some of the birds, which should have been recorded by now.  These are   2AAC ,   2ABA   and perhaps   2ANS , which has had a patchy re-sighting history, the older it has become.

Another gull, which I class, as one of those, that's always under your feet, is   2AAP .  This gull was recorded just before, I began my sixth winter of 'Ring Watching at Antrim Marina', and has been recorded just once since.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed, that these birds are still alive, but their non-appearance, are beginning to cause some doubts.

Colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls at Antrim Marina  -  Today  (27th August 2018)
 T35J   2AAT   2CSA   2CSJ   2AAK   2CSL   2ADJ 
 2CSK   2CSR   2AAN   2ABL   2AAA   2ABK   2ABF 
 2ABS   2CSB   2CSS   2ACV   2AAB   2CJT   2BRA 

Today's Absentees
 2AAP   2ABN   2AAV 

Below, I've added two photos of Black-headed Gull -   2CSS , which is one of the birds I caught last winter, as part of my training, to catch and ring 'Flying Gulls'.  These clearly show the transformation of the bird over the last five months.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CSS   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (27 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as a 1st Winter Bird, on the 7th January 2018, at Antrim Marina)

Black-headed Gull  -    2CSS   -  On the 12th March 2018, at Antrim Marina

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
As mentioned before, I'm relying on the presence of Mute Swans, as an aid to catching Black-headed Gulls, for ringing.  On my last visit here, not a single Mute Swan appeared and when I arrived today, there were still no swans.

It wasn't until 11.05, that the family party with their five cygnets, arrived in from the Lough.  I easily encouraged them onto the slipway for a feed of bread.  The cygnets, are becoming more 'people friendly', easily feeding from my hand.  Spilling bread onto the ground, the gulls did approach, but are not hungry enough as yet, to get close enough to catch.

An immature female swan, arrived from upriver at 11.14, and might well be one of last winter's cygnets.  She was not allowed to approach the slipway, being driven off by the male, as he was defending his youngsters.  The family party, swam upriver at 11.40, which then allowed the female to come ashore.  Eagerly taking bread from my hand, this bird had no rings.

A slight drop in Mallard numbers, was noted today, though with birds arriving as the morning wore on, an estimated 80 birds were present by the time of my departure.  Most were checked for rings, but still no luck with these.

As with last week, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Herring Gull, were present most of the time.  Two adult Common Gulls, were most likely to be the same two birds, which also came and went on a frequent basis.

The very friendly juvenile Common Gull, appeared at 1015, and remained throughout my stay.  For some reason, it was not present last week.  The more I see of this bird, the more I'd love to slap a 'colour-ring' onto it.  A bird that presents itself to people in such an easy fashion, would be an ideal candidate for re-sightings.

Other species recorded today, were, 6 Hooded Crows (2 juveniles), 8 Jackdaws (2 juveniles), a single Rook and a juvenile Magpie.

Antrim's Elim Church, KFC & Baptist Church
As   2AAV , was not at the Marina today, I stopped by it's favourite winter haunt, at Antrim's Elim Church.  With around 30 BHGs, 2 Common Gulls and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull present, there was no sign of   2AAV .

Moving on to the car park, of the nearby KFC outlet, around 30 BHGs, a single Common Gull and a single Mediterranean Gull, were present.  Although Mediterranean Gulls, are still fairly scarce as a breeding species in Northern Ireland, sightings of these birds so far this autumn, appears to be well up from previous years.

The Norwegian Black-headed Gull -   JK35 , has still not arrived back and is now overdue.  Having not been recorded, back in Norway, over the summer, it's current status is making me wonder.  Fingers crossed, for the return of this one - early days yet!

Mediterranean Gull  -  Antrim KFC Car Park, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (27 Aug 2018)

The number of Black-headed Gulls, at Antrim's Baptist Church, are still well up.  I estimated, that there were as many as 80 to 90 birds present.  With the front gates to the Church, closed and locked, I took myself into the car park and sat down.  Throwing out bread, most of the gulls eventually landed in front of me.  Just the one ring was spotted, and that was of the Polish (White) TY43.  I recorded the return of this bird, on the 5th August 2018.

Black-headed Gull  -  (White) TY43  -  Antrim Baptist Church, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (27 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Calendar Year, on the 9th February 2012, at Olsztyn, Warmińsko-Mazurskie, Poland) 


      Ringing Details Received       
As far as I can remember, the only ringing details that I'm currently waiting on, are for, the young Herring Gull - (White) 39N:C, spotted at Whitehouse Lagoon, on Sunday 19th August 2018.  Although, the Secretary of the Clyde Ringing Group - Iain Livingstone, is aware of my sighting, he is still waiting on the ringer involved, to supply details.

I'm also awaiting updates, for an Oystercatcher and a Black-tailed Godwit, also seen at Whitehouse Lagoon, on the 19th August.  The two, are re-sightings of birds that I've recorded in the past, and at some point, Böddi, will send me their updated files.  Once received, I'll know if these two Icelandic birds, have been spotted anywhere else since I last saw them.  Böddi, is due to return to his office on August 29th.

I have recently received an email from Jan Rod, about one of the Sandwich Tern's, that I spotted, also on the 19th August, at Rhanbouy Park, Carrickfergus.  The bird concerned, was EBL, which I reported on my Blog, as being (White) EBL.  Jan, spotted the tern, six day's later, on the 25th August, at the Skerries, in County Dublin, Republic of Ireland.  He reported the bird, as (Lime) EBL, to Ewan Weston, and kindly reported this to me.

Jan, was correct in his sighting, the tern did have a 'Lime' ring.  At the time of my sighting, I too thought the ring was 'Lime', but was unsure.  I reported EBL, along with EFA, to Ewan, not stating a colour, but attached photos of the two birds to the email.  Looking back, to the re-sighting report I received from Ewan, the first column, gave the colour as 'l', which I overlooked.  Had it been a capital 'L', I might have took more notice, and stands for 'Lime'.

Anyway, at the time, I recorded these two birds, I was not sure, if the rings were indeed 'Lime'. but had faded, or were in fact 'White', which had dis-coloured.  I settled for 'White', in my blog, and thanks to Jan, I will have to correct my blog entry, changing the two terns, to - Lime EBL and Lime EFA.


      Sunday 26th August 2018       
Electing not to visit Antrim Marina today, I decided to go to the beach at Kinnegar.  I wanted to be in position at the car park, overlooking the shore, before the tide started to recede.  Any 'colour-ringed' birds that should arrive, would easily be within range of my camera.

Towards the end of last winter, I discovered Kinnegar, to be a treasure trove for ring sightings and going by what I recorded here today, this winter, will be no exception.

On arrival, I couldn't have got off to a better start.  I spotted a 'colour-ringed' Oystercatcher, roosting on the tidal pond, situated across an access road from the shore.  Taking a few photos from distance, I captured the combination as 'Yellow, Green or Lime' on the left leg, and White (UA), on the right leg.  On returning home, and checking my spreadsheet, this Oystercatcher, was a new sighting for me.  Knowing, it would have come from Iceland, I've reported my sighting to Böddi, and await his reply.

Oystercatcher  -  (Y)ellow(L)ime-White(UA)  -  Kinnegar Pond, Holywood, Co. Down  (26 Aug 2018)
(Waiting on the Ringing Details)

Parking my car overlooking the shore, a good number of terns and gulls, were already present, standing above the high tide line, waiting for the tide to recede.

The gulls were mostly Black-headed's, with a few Herring, Common and Lesser Black-backed's.  Common Terns, were exactly that, with a smaller numbers of Sandwich Terns, and the odd one or two Arctic and Roseate Terns.

Although some of the Common Terns were 'metal-ringed', none bore 'colour-rings'.  One adult Roseate, had a 'metal-ring', on each leg, which meant it was either from Rockabill or Lady's Island Lake, in the Republic of Ireland.  Strangely, the juvenile that accompanied the adult, had a 'metal-ring' on it's right leg, which suggests that it was ringed as a chick, somewhere other than the two previously mentioned sites.

Among the Sandwich Terns, I spotted four individuals, with 'colour-rings'.  I failed to capture the codes, on an adult, with a 'Blue Darvic', and a juvenile, with a 'Yellow Darvic'.

The 'Blue' ringed Sandwich Tern, was first to be spotted, but a Black-headed Gull, moved across and blocked out my view.  Waiting for the gull to move, I scanned through the other birds and then spotted a 'Sannie', with a 'White Darvic'.  Camera out, I easily managed to capture the code - EDL.

(White) EDL, was a bird I reported on last year, having been spotted by Cameron Moore, at Whitehead, on the 14th September 2017.  It was ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 17th August 2010, by the Grampian Ringing Group, on the Ythan Estuary, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Prior, to Cameron's sighting, (White) EDL, had only been sighted on three other occasions :- near Tiguent, Mauritania (Nov 2011), Saltcoats Harbour, Ayrshire, Scotland (Aug 2013), and Coquet Island, Northumberland, England (May 2015).  I reported my sighting to Ewan Weston, and learned that (White) EDL, had not been recorded, since Cameron spotted the tern last summer.

Sandwich Tern  -  (White)  EDL  -  Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, Co. Down  (26 Aug  2018)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 17th August 2010, on the Ythan Estuary, Aberdeenshire, Scotland)

As the 'Blue-ringed', Sandwich Tern, was still being blocked out by the Black-headed Gull, I continued to scan the rest of the gulls, and by this time, I noticed that the tide was starting to recede.  More gulls and terns, were starting to arrive, and then I noticed a Black-headed Gull, with an 'Orange Darvic'.

It was one of Adam McClure's, Northern Ireland Study birds, and I quickly caught the code with my camera -   2CJF .  Checking my records at home,   2CJF , was a new bird to me.  I've reported my sighting to Adam, but still await a reply.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CJF   -  Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, Co. Down  (26 Aug 2018)
(Waiting on the Ringing Details)

With another ring sorted, I again tried for the Sandwich Tern, with the 'Blue-Darvic'.  I was using my camera, and was well zoomed in, when a gull with a 'Yellow-Darvic' strolled through my viewfinder.  It went straight into the river, which flows into Belfast Lough.  I then noticed, that it was a Mediterranean Gull, and I had to get this one.

After having a near five minute wash and preen, the Med gull, exited the river, and the ring code was caught -   2C22 .  I immediately thought, as the ring began with a two, I knew it was British Isles rung bird and this Med Gull, was most likely to have been ringed at Lady's Island Lake, County Wexford, in the Republic of Ireland.  On returning home and checking the cr-birding website, the contact ringer, was Sean Kingston, in Dublin, which cemented my belief that this was an Irish-rung bird.

When Sean replied, I was in for a big surprise.    2C22 , was ringed as a chick, on the 28th June 2017, at a large Med Gull colony, on South Binness Island, Hampshire, England.  After being ringed,   2C22 , was not seen again in 2017.

This all changed, at the beginning of 2018.  On the 4th January,   2C22 , was spotted on Coroso Beach, at Riberia, in (NW) Spain, and three days later (7th Jan), was re-sighted in Portugal, at the mouth of the River Ave, between Vila do Conde and Azurara, on the western coast.

It was not until June 2018, before   2C22 , surfaced again, this time in the Republic of Ireland.  On the 16th and 20th, it was reported from Harper's Island and Glounthane, both in the Cobh area of County Cork.  These were it's last sightings, until it appeared at Kinnegar Beach today - a nice 'spot', with an interesting re-sighting history for such a young bird.

My thanks goes to Sean Kingston for the info.

Mediterranean Gull  -    2C22   -  Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, Co. Down  (26 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 28th June 2017, at South Binness Island, Langstone Harbour, Hampshire, England)

Whilst waiting to capture the code on the 'Blue-Darvic' rung Sandwich Tern, I had managed to capture the codes, on three other birds.  My attention, went back onto this tern, who's ring was still being obscured by the Black-headed Gull.

All was lost, shortly afterwards.  A passenger plane, came in low overhead, making it's approach to the Belfast City Airport, close by.  It startled the terns, which all flew off, re-settling further up the beach a few minutes later.  The gulls however, were unfazed, obviously used to the aircraft.  I could not re-locate my 'blue-ringed' Sandwich Tern, but spotted a 'juvenile', with a 'Yellow Darvic'.  Too far away to read the code on this one, I had hoped to fall in with either bird again, but had no luck.

With the tide well on it's way out, and no more rings spotted, I drove along the road leading towards the army camp.  I'm not supposed to drive along here, as it is a private road, bristling with security cameras.  Parking along side the causeway leading out onto Belfast Lough, I've never been challenged, about my presence here.  Perhaps, those behind the cameras, can clearly see that I'm birdwatching.

It was here, that I spotted another Sandwich Tern, with a 'Red Darvic'.  Capturing the code -   KDJ , with my camera, I knew straight away, that I saw this bird last Sunday at Rhanbouy Park, in Carrickfergus, which is situated on the northern shore of Belfast Lough.  After this, the tide was so far out, it would have been nearly impossible to read any more rings, so I left for Whitehouse Lagoon, having already had a nice 'haul' of sightings.

Sandwich Tern  -    KDJ   -  Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, Co. Down  (26 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Juvenile, on the 30th August 2015, Ynyslas National Nature Reserve, Dyfed, Wales).

Arriving at Whitehouse Lagoon, the tide was slowly receding here.  The Lagoon, takes quite a while to drain, as the water has to flow out through concrete pipes underneath the motorway and into Belfast Lough.

The first ring spotted here, was an 'Orange Darvic' on a Black-headed Gull.  Although, a long way off, the code appeared to read either   2AFP   or   2AFF , but I scrapped the photos.  The gull belonged to Adam's Study, and it flew off shortly afterwards.

Next to be spotted, was the Oystercatcher - GW-GfN, whose return to Northern Ireland, was confirmed last Sunday.

Oystercatcher  -  (G)reen(W)hite-(G)reen flag(N)iger  -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast  (26 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Breeding Adult, on the 5th June 2015, at Mjóanef, Eystri Rangá, Southern Iceland)

A third ring spotted, was that of a Polish Black-headed Gull, whose return to Whitehouse Lagoon, has been eagerly awaited.  (White) T56W, despite having been ringed in 2012, was never sighted until 15th January 2015, when spotted at Whitehouse Lagoon, by Stuart McKee.

T56W, is a strange bird to understand.  Returning each autumn, in 2015, 2016, 2017 and now 2018, it disappears before the end of the year, except for Stuart's sighting in 2015.  Where T56W, goes to after this time is unknown.  Also of interest, is the fact that it has never been re-sighted back in Poland, or along it's travels, since the day it was ringed.

So long as T56W, lives long enough, perhaps one day, we'll learn about it's movements.  For now, at least another gull, has returned to Northern Ireland, for another winter.

Black-headed Gull  -  (White)  T56W  -  Whitehouse Lagoon, Belfast  (26 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed 2nd Calendar Year, on the 16th June 2012, on Odra Reservoir, Bielinek, Poland)

Leaving Whitehouse Lagoon, I thought I'd chance my luck on the nearby Whiteabbey Beach.  I knew the tide would now be fully out, and any rings spotted, might be out of reach from my camera.  Luck, was on my side, as I had two re-sightings of gulls recorded here previously.

First, was my 9th sighting of Common Gull -   2AIP .  All sightings of this 2012, rung bird, have been on Whiteabbey Beach.  My first record of   2AIP , was in October 2015, and I have recorded it here at least once every winter since.  Nice to see that it is alive and well.

Common Gull  -    2AIP   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline, Co. Antrim  (26 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 11th June 2012, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)

My 2nd re-sighting, was that of Black-headed Gull   2CPN .  Adam McClure, ringed   2CPN , as a chick, on the 16th June 2017, at Blue Circle Island, on Larne Lough (18 kms (NE)).  As a first winter bird, I recorded   2CPN , on four occasions - 24th September 2017, 8th October 2017, 18th November 2017 and finally on the 28th January 2018.

Nothing interesting about it's movements, but a re-sighting, is a re-sighting, and add's to the gull's longevity record.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CPN   -  Whiteabbey Shoreline, Co. Antrim  (26 Aug 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 16th June 2017, on Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim)


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