Thursday, 27 December 2018

Xmas Gull & Godwit Nailed...

      Antrim Marina - Monday 24th December 2018       
Knowing, all of the building and dredging work, would be off for the Christmas period, I postponed my weekly visit to Antrim Marina, until today.  Arriving at 9.15am, I spotted two of the 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, even before I got through the barrier, which leads towards the slipway.  It was a calm, clear, winter's day, and after an overnight frost, the temperature still read -1.5°C.  It wasn't till late in the morning, before the sun climbed above the conifers, which screens the car park, and the temperature then increased to 7°C.

Knowing I needed to catch and ring, another one or two gulls, I was forced at times, to keep my car engine running and the heater turned up.  Quite often, my hands were blue with cold, and I had to retreat to the warmth.  So far this winter, I had re-sighted 30 of Adam's 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, and with the three additional gulls, that I've caught and ringed over the last few weeks, I was on the lookout for 33 gulls altogether.

Three other gulls -   2AFD ,   2CFC   &   2BRC , which should have returned long ago, still weren't recorded by the time of my departure, shortly after 1.30pm.

Around 50 to 60 Black-headed Gulls, were present from my arrival, until 10.30, and after that, not a single gull was to be seen until 11.12.  After this, numbers quickly surpassed the 200 mark, which took me by surprise, considering all of the disturbance over the last few weeks.  Of the 33 gulls, that I was on the lookout for,   2CSF , was my 27th and final sighting, at 1.23pm.  At 10.24, I recorded   2CTA , for the first time, since I caught and ringed it here, two weeks ago.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CTA   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (24 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-sexed 2nd Winter Bird, on the 10th December 2018, at Antrim Marina)

Despite the sudden upsurge in gull numbers later in the morning, some kept alighting on the steel framing of the new cafe.  No matter how I tried to position myself, the legs on most of these gulls were out of sight, which doesn't help when trying to read rings. As many as 40 to 50 BHGs, were perched beside the distant breakwater, which were of no use to me either.  I cannot help thinking, that my late arrivals, are here somewhere, but have not been spotted, as yet.

Gulls were Landing on the Steel-Work of the New Cafe
Not Ideal, When Trying to Read Rings

Another three Black-headed Gulls, of differing ages, were caught and ringed during today's visit.  A full adult, was ringed   2CTB , followed by   2CTC , on a 1st Winter bird, finally,   2CTD , was fitted onto a 2nd Winter gull.  This now means, that I'm on the lookout for 36 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, on my next visit.

Colour-Ringed Black-headed Gulls at Antrim Marina, on Monday 24th December 2018
 2CSR   2CSA   2AAA   2ABK   2ACV   2ADJ   2ABS   2AAP   2AAT 
 2ABN   2CJT   2AAR   2CTA   2CSX   T35J   2AAN   2AAB   2CSH 
 2BRA   2ADV   2CSB   2CSK   2CSJ   2AAK   2ABL   2CSL   2CSF 

Today's Absentees
 2ABF   2AAV   2BRD   2ANS   2CSS   2CSV 

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
Today, saw the best showing of Common Gulls, so far this winter.  Two, were already present on my arrival, but they disappeared along with the BHGs, by 10.30.  An increase in numbers, were in line with the return of the Black-headed Gulls, with a total of 7 adult Common Gulls being present by 12.18.  Earlier, at 11.18, a large, nice looking juvenile Common Gull appeared, which then remained on and off, until my departure.

Of the adults which did appear, there was no sign of the Scottish 'metal-ringed' bird, or the one with a 'Wonkey' leg.  Every time, I saw Common Gulls, landing on the short concrete Jetty, I had to check for rings with my binoculars.  It's almost time, for the Finnish-rung bird, to put in an appearance.  I know from past experience, that this bird, is not shy when it comes to being near people.  I suspect, that this bird, is people tolerant back home in Finland, and I often wonder, if it's ring has ever been read there.

Ringed as a juvenile, in August 1995, it is approaching twenty three and a half years old, should it return in January.  The earliest return dates, that I have for this gull, is the 2nd January 2017, and the 14th January 2018.  I'm really keeping my fingers crossed, in the hope that it will survive it's journey's.  The oldest ever Common Gull, on the BTO's records, was aged twenty seven years and 10 months of age.  My bird, might not surpass that record, but it is doing well, travelling back and forth over all those years.

The sub-adult Herring Gull, arrived around 10am, stayed for about fifteen minutes, and never reappeared again.

Mute Swan,   W34158 , was present throughout my visit.  At 10.23, a pair arrived in from the Lough, and I think by their reactions, this was the same pair, which appeared a couple of weeks ago.  The female, is a little shy, but will take bread from my hand if approached slowly.

At 10.35, another pair arrived in from the Lough, but these, had two large cygnets with them.  Both adults, readily came out of the water, to take bread from my hand, which makes me think, that they have been regular visitors in the past.  Their two cygnets, on the other hand, did not know what to do with themselves, as they definitely were not used to being around people.

Just as I was about to leave, a third pair appeared from the Lough.  I coaxed them out of the water, but the only ring today, was that of the ever present -   W34158 .

Mallards, were particularly non-existent in the early part of the morning, with just 12 birds counted.  Further counts, were made at 10.47 (39 birds), and 12.33 (48 birds).  On leaving, I would think the overall total just about topped the 60 mark.  Once again, most were checked for rings, but I've yet to record one this winter.

Jackdaws, were back in good numbers, with a high of 14 being counted.  A single Hooded Crow, Magpie and Pied Wagtail, were the only other species recorded.

Throughout the morning, several people stopped for a chat with me, many wondering what I was doing.  Strangely enough, most of them were from England, and came to Northern Ireland, for a Christmas Holiday.  The final couple, were from Portsmouth, the lady of which, stated that she'd recently took up the birdwatching.  It just so happened, that I had my third Black-headed Gull in hand, which had just been ringed.  She was ever so delighted, to see it close up.

Due to the late upsurge in gull numbers, I hadn't time to visit the other three sites around Antrim Town.  I had to return home and prepare for work.  As it was Christmas Eve, we had to work from 4pm until 10pm, instead of the usual 6.30pm, until 2.30am.  I was a bit 'peeved' to arrive and discover that the shift had been cancelled, whereas, I could have covered the other sites around Antrim Town.


      Ringing Details Received       
Hendrik Trapp, from Germany, sent me an email, offering his sincere apologies (due to a staffing shortage).  He was responding, to the sighting of Black-headed Gull -   X82N , which was spotted on the 1st November 2018, by Graham McElwaine, and again the next day, by David Nixon.  They both recorded the gull, at Millquarter Bay, on Strangford Lough.

  X82N , was caught and ringed, as a breeding female, on the 31st May 2018, on an island called Riether Werder, in north-east Germany - the island, sits just inside the border with Poland.  The colony there, boasts a breeding population, of over 10,000 Black-headed Gulls.  The two sightings by Graham and David, were the first records of the gull, since being ringed.  The distance, is around 1,291 kms / 802 miles, to reach Millquarter Bay.

My thanks to Hendrik for the info - better late, than never.


      Wednesday 19th December 2018       
On Sunday 16th December, I wrote about a 'colour-ringed' Knot, that I spotted on Kinnegar Beach, at Holywood, Co. Down.  Having seen a yellow ring, above the right knee, and a yellow flag below, I was not sure, if the bird carried any colour-rings on it's left leg.  It was among a group of Knots, numbering 50 to 60, birds altogether.  Eventually, the group settled into a tight huddle, on the pond, slightly inland from the beach, and most legs were out of sight.

Having finished work early the previous night, as most of our Christmas production has been completed, I was up early this morning, to catch the outgoing tide at Kinnegar Beach.  Arriving just after 10.30, the tide had started to retreat, which saw gulls and waders, starting to arrive in small numbers.

I did not have to wait too long, when the Knots, started to appear as well.  Numbers, quickly built up to, around 90 to 100 birds.  Scoping through them, I spotted a 'colour-ringed' Knot, that I did not see on Sunday.  Camera out, I took a number of poor quality photos, mainly due to how quickly my bird was moving.  Although, I quickly ascertained the 'colour-combination', and the position of the 'metal-ring', the better photos were taken later on.

My Knot, was rung, with an Orange Flag, bearing the code   X8 , over a Pale Blue ring, on it's right tarsus, with the 'metal', being placed on the bird's left tarsus.

Whilst following this bird with my camera, I then spotted the Knot, which I had spotted on Sunday, and successfully caught the colour-combination on that bird, as well (see below).

On returning home, I looked at the cr-birding site online, to find the contact addresses for the two Knots.  It just happens, that a Jim Wilson, was the contact for both birds.  After sending an email, a reply followed very quickly.

The first bird - Of(X8),P, was ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 22nd September 2017, at Altcar, on Merseyside, in England.  Before today's sighting, the bird was spotted twice on Merseyside - 11th August 2018 (Seaforth), and on the 10th September 2018 (Ainsdale Beach). 

Knot  -  Of(X8),P  -  Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, Co. Down  (19 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 22nd September 2017, at Altcar, Merseyside, England)

The second Knot, actually had a code on it's Yellow Flag, which I did not notice on Sunday's visit.  The bird's left leg, was clear of rings, with all rings being fitted onto the right leg.  A plain Yellow Ring, was placed above the knee (tibia), and the Yellow Flag - coded   17N , was situated above the 'metal-ring', below the knee (tarsus).

Y,Yf(17N), was ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 22nd May 2017, at Straumfjordur, in western Iceland.  Prior to today's sighting, the only record of it, was on the 20th May 2018, at Skogarnes, also in Iceland.

I've reported both birds to the BTO, through my DemOn account, and now await the official distances, for them.

My thanks goes to Jim Wilson, for supplying the info for both birds.

Knot  -  Y,Yf(17N)  -  Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, Co. Down  (19 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 22nd May 2017, at Straumfjordur, Western Iceland)

I returned to my car, which overlooked another section of Kinnegar Beach.  Just a short time earlier, I talked to another birdwatcher, who was peering over the birds on the shore, and in possession of a long lens camera.  I asked him, if he had seen anything interesting, to which he replied, he'd arrived about half an hour too late.

Although by now, he had moved on, I began scoping the gulls and waders, which were in front of his observing position.  I was a trifle bemused, having spotted a Black-headed Gull, with a White Darvic.  How had he missed this bird, I wondered!  Anyway, having scoped the code - (White) EE5R, I took a couple of photos, then headed back home, feeling pretty delighted with myself with today's sightings.

Checking the cr-birding site online, my Black-headed Gull - (White) EE5R, was from Holland, and I sent an email to Date Lutterop.  A reply came back a short time later, with the gull's ringing and re-sighting history.

(White) EE5R, was ringed as an un-sexed 2nd calendar year bird, on the 21st May 2016, on Griend Island, on the Wadden Sea, in north-west Holland.  I checked up about the island on Wikipedia, and discovered that it holds the largest population of Sandwich Terns in Europe, numbering over 10,000 pairs, as well as many other species of seabirds.

My sighting of (White) EE5R, was the first outside of Holland, where the gull had been recorded on three occasions at Griend - (May 2017, and twice in April 2018).  The distance from Griend to Kinnegar, is 742 kms / 461 miles (WNW).  (White) EE5R, also became the 3rd Dutch ringed Black-headed Gull, on my records, and the 2nd this winter.

My thanks goes to Date Lutterop, for supplying and allowing me to use his information on my blog.

Black-headed Gull  -  (White)  EE5R  -  Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, Co. Down  (19 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-sexed 2nd Calendar year bird, on the 21st May 2016, at Griend Island, Holland)


      Saturday 22nd December 2018       
Unlike the last two Saturdays, where I was forced to remain at home due to very poor weather conditions, today was a very calm winter's day.  I finally managed to get to Millise, arriving just before the tide was due to start going out.  Immediately, I noticed a total lack of gulls, which as the afternoon wore on, was to be the theme of the day.

My planned route, was to start at Millisle, go north to Donaghadee, back to Millisle, then move southwards, to finish at Portaferry.  Along the way, I would pass through, Ballywalter, Ballyhalbert, Portavogie and Cloghy.  As already mentioned, there was a total lack of gulls, and the highlight of the afternoon, was a flock of 100 to 120 Lapwings, just to the north of Millisle.  Nearly all of these birds were scoped, but I'm still waiting to record my first 'colour-ringed' Lapwing.

Only two 'colour-ringed' gulls were recorded this afternoon, both being re-sightings of birds that I've recorded in the past.  The first of these, was spotted when I arrived at Millisle, this one being Common Gull -   2A60 .  This is the fourth winter running that I have spotted   2A60 , at Millisle, with my initial sighting being made on the 24th December 2015.

The last time I recorded this gull, was a day short of one year ago - 23rd December 2017.    2A60 , was ringed as a chick, in July 2013, at Hunterston, in Ayrshire, Scotland.  The duration since being ringed, is now 5 years, 5 months and 15 days.  Hunterston, is situated on the eastern side of the Irish Sea, from Millisle, the distance being 131 kms / 81 miles (NNE).

Today's sighting, was my tenth record of the gull.  I have informed Iain Livingstone, who is the Ringing Secretary, of the Grampian Ringing Group.  I have asked, if there were any reported sightings, since I last saw this gull, in 2017.  As yet, I am waiting on a reply.

Common Gull  -    2A60   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (22 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 7th July 2013, at Hunterston, Ayrshire, Scotland)

The second 'colour-ring' recorded this afternoon, was at Portavogie Harbour.  Here, I recorded my sixth sighting of Great Black-backed Gull -   T7VZ .  I first recorded   T7VZ , on the 13th February 2016, and last saw it here earlier this year, on the 28th January 2018.

Having been ringed as a chick, in 2013,   T7VZ , is looking quite good now, in it's adult plumage.  I have informed Mark Fitzpatrick, who is the new Ringing Secretary, for the Manx Ringing Group, on the Isle of Man.  Mark, will let me know, if there has been any further reports of the gull, since January.

Great Black-backed Gull  -    T7VZ   -  Portavogie Harbour, Co. Down  (22 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 17th July 2013, at the Point of Ayre Gravel Pits, on the Isle of Man)


      Sunday 23rd December 2018       
I couldn't resist another visit to Kinnegar Beach, at Holywood, in County Down.  The beach here, easily, has to be one of the best spots for finding 'colour-ringed' birds, in Northern Ireland.  Millile, might be the Northern Ireland 'hotspot' for Common Gulls, but Kinnegar has to be the 'hotspot', for recording numerous 'colour-ringed' gulls and waders.

On Wednesday past, I recorded a Dutch Black-headed Gull, and two Knots - one from Iceland, the other from Merseyside, in England.  Today, I recorded another new 'colour-ring', this time a Common Gull -   J583 , from Norway.  Ringed as a chick, on the 8th July 2016, my sighting today, was the first record of the gull, since being ringed.

The ringing site, is the island of Kavringen, at the southern end of Tyrifjorden (Lake Tyri), Norway's fifth largest lake, and situated 40 kms / 25 miles, west of Oslo.  The distance to Kinnegar, is 1,131 kms / 702 miles (SW).

Common Gull  -    J583   -  Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, Co. Down  (23 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 8th July 2016, at Kavringen Island, Norway)

In a way, this makes up for the Common Gull, which I spotted here on the 9th December 2018.  Ringed with a 'White Darvic', it was scared off, before I could obtain the code, by a women out walking her two dogs.  I reckoned, that this Common Gull, was also from Norway.

The only other definite ring sighting today, at Kinnegar, was that of, one of the two Knots recorded on Wednesday 19th December.  It was the one with the 'Orange Flag', with the code -   X8 .

I spent a long time at Kinnegar, as the tide was steadily retreating.  Waders, easily outnumbered gulls, and much time was spent scoping Oystercatchers, Knots, Dunlins, Redshanks, Godwits and Ringed Plovers.  Away in the distance, I spotted a 'colour-ringed' Bar-tailed Godwit, which appeared to have 'Yellow' rings on just the one leg.  Grabbing my camera, telescope and binoculars, I walked over to get a closer look, but could not locate the bird again.

I'm was certain, that this is the same Godwit, which I saw on the 9th December, standing on one leg, at the 'Kinnegar Pond', close to the shore.  In my post, on December 9th, I stated that this may well have been the same Godwit, which I spotted here on the 4th March 2018, having been rung in Holland (colour-rings on both legs).

Now, I'm not so sure either way.  I really need to 'tie' this bird down, and only photos of both legs, will confirm this Godwit, one way or another.  I plan to go to Belfast on Christmas Day, and will finish the day, by visiting Kinnegar Beach again.  The tide, will be due to go out after 2.30 in the afternoon.  Hopefully, I'll have enough time, to spot my Godwit, before it starts to get dark.


      Christmas Day - 25th December 2018       
This morning, while most of the world, we're getting up to open their Christmas presents, I headed off to the Connswater Shopping Centre, in Belfast, in what has now become an annual event.  With all of the shops closed for the day, and an empty car park, this gives me the opportunity to record one particular Black-headed Gull, from Norway.  Whilst in Belfast, I checked numerous sites for ringed gulls, whittling away the time, before a receding tide at around 2.30pm.  Here, I wanted to sort out that Bar-tailed Godwit, for once and for all - was it the Dutch bird, I saw in March, or a new bird completely!!

I left home, on a very mild morning, though it was fairly dull, with a slight mist falling.  The temperature read 7°C, which reached a high of 12.5°C, later in the day, and there was hardly a breath of wind - a perfect day for 'Reading Rings'.

I arrived at Connswater, at 9.45am, armed with three loaves of bread, but by the end of the afternoon, I still had the remenants of the second loaf.  Throwing out bits of bread from my car window, I soon had an audience of Black-headed Gulls, along with a few Herring Gulls.  Minutes later, a 'White Darvic', was spotted, and I thought 'happy days', my Norwegian gull was back.

Grabbing my camera, and on taking a few photos, I had a shock, when I read the code (White) EAK9.  My last sighting of this Dutch-rung gull, was made here, in the very same car park, on Christmas Day, 2016.  Last winter, I failed to spot EAK9, at the shopping centre, or at the nearby Victoria Park.

I was delighted, to see, that it is still alive and well.  EAK9, was first recorded in Northern Ireland, on the 10th January 2014, when spotted by Adam McClure, at this same car park.  I then recorded EAK9, on Christmas Day 2015, and again in 2016.

The duration since being ringed, as a third calendar year male, is now 6 years, 6 months and 12 days.  The distance from the Benthuizerplas Lake, in Zoetermeer, where it was ringed, is 745 kms / 463 miles, to Belfast.  Although EAK9, is a re-sighting, it just happens to be the third Dutch 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gull, that I've recorded around Belfast, so far this winter.

Black-headed Gull  -  (White)  EAK9  -  Connswater Shopping Centre, Belfast  (25 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as a 3rd Calendar Year Male, on the 13th June 2012, at Benthuizerplas, Zoetermeer, Holland)

With one ring sorted, I continued to throw out bits of bread, in the hope the Norwegian bird would show.  At 10.02am, I suddenly noticed, that two 'White Darvic's', were now present.  Swinging my camera into action again, I took photos of the most distant bird, to find, I had my 'Christmas Gull'.  It was the bird I was after, the Norwegian - (White) J4TJ.

Black-headed Gull  -  (White)  J4TJ  -  Connswater Shopping Centre, Belfast  (25 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as a 3rd Calendar Year Male, on the 19th April 2013, at Texburger, Oslo, Norway)

After being ringed in Norway, J4TJ's first re-sighting, was made here at the shopping centre, by Adam McClure, on the 13th January 2014.  Today's sighting of J4TJ, is my fourth record of the gull, all of which, have been made on Christmas Day (2015-2018), hence the labelling of it, my 'Christmas Gull'.  Since I last saw J4TJ, last year, it was spotted back at Oslo, on two occasions over the spring and summer - 23rd April and 13th June 2018.

The distance from Oslo to Connswater, is 1,154 kms / 717 miles (SW), and the duration from ringing, is now 5 years, 8 months and 6 days.  I'll probably not see J4TJ, again this winter, but one thing is for sure, I'll be after it again on Christmas Day, next year, if possible.

Leaving the Connswater Shopping Centre, I checked gulls for rings anywhere I could safely park.  The next two rings, were spotted on the Belfast Harbour Estate.  Parking on Connsbank Road, which seperates company premises from Victoria Park, I had noticed many gulls on rooftops and lampposts.  Once again, I started throwing out bits of bread, and soon had plenty of Black-headed Gulls around my car.

An 'Orange Darvic', was first to be spotted, this being one of Adam McClure's birds, from his Northern Ireland Study.  Just as well, I took a couple of quick photos, as the gull lifted off again, and not seen after that.  Ringed   2AKJ , I did not recognise the code, but after returning home, I checked my spreadsheet, to find that I had recorded this same bird, on one previous occasion.

This was on the 4th September 2016, on the lake at Victoria Park, which lies less than half a mile away, from where I had now spotted it.  At the time, my sighting was the first, since   2AKJ , had been ringed as a chick, in June 2015, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre, in County Down.  I have a sneaky suspicion, that today's sighting might well be the second overall re-sighting.  Unfortuanetly, Adam is still not responding to emails, so it might take a while for confirmation.

The distance from Castle Espie, to the Harbour Estate, is roughly 14 kms / 9 miles (NW), the duration being 3 years, 6 months and 2 days.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AKJ   -  Belfast Harbour Estate, Belfast  (25 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 23rd June 2015, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down)

The second 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gull, to touch down, had a 'White Darvic'.  I thought this one could be the Polish - THR7, which I recorded nearby, on the 18th November 2018, or possibly another Norwegian bird.  On taking photos, I was surprised to see that the starting letter of the code began with a 'V', something I've never encountered before, so I hadn't a clue, from where it had come.

Ringed (White) VX18, I checked it up on the cr-birding site, on returning home.  It turns out, that this was a Danish bird, and I've now sent an email to Kjeld Tommy Pederson.  VX18, is only the second Danish BHG, on my records, the other being (White) 5HA, was is currently at Whitehead, Co. Antrim.  The ring of VX18, looks to be in very good condition, so it might have been ringed earlier this year.

Black-headed Gull  -  (White)  VX18  -  Belfast Harbour Estate, Belfast  (25 Dec 2018)
(Waiting on the Ringing Details)

Leaving the Belfast Harbour Estate, I had to drive round to reach the lake at Victoria Park, although it was across the river from where I had been parked.

I arrived at the car park, just before 12.30, and immediately spotted a Black-headed Gull, with a 'White Darvic'.  It was standing on the footbridge, along with other BHGs.  Camera out, I zoomed across, to realise, I just just spotted the Dutch EAK9, again.  I had spotted EAK9, earlier this morning at the Connswater Shopping Centre.

Having not seen this bird in two years, I've recorded it twice on the same day.  Victoria Park, is EAK9's other favoured haunt.

Black-headed Gull  -  (White)  EAK9  -  Victoria Park, Belfast  (25 Dec 2018)
(Seen Earlier Today, at Connswater Shopping Centre  (see above))

Throwing out bits of bread, I was on the lookout for a 'metal-ringed' BHG.  This was a bird, that I've recorded here at least once every winter since 2015/2016.  It didn't take long for   EL97734 , to land almost beside me (yes, I was out of the car for a change!!).

In no time at all, I took enough photos, to confirm the 'metal'.    EL97734 , was ringed as a chick, at Downholme, in North Yorkshire, England.  The duration, since being ringed on the 12th June 2007, is now 11 years, 6 months and 13 days.  The distance from Downholme to Victoria Park, is 265 kms / 164 miles (W).

This was my sixth record of the gull at the park, the previous five dates were :- Nov 2015, Dec 2015, Dec 2016, Nov 2017 & De 2017.  I was very tempted to catch and colour-ring this gull, as it comes so close, you could nearly 'sit on it's back'.  I'd probably be better at having 'permissions' in place, before any attempted ringing here.

Black-headed Gull  -    EL97734   -  Victoria Park, Belfast  (25 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 12th June 2007, at Downholme, North Yorkshire, England)

Whilst I was busy, photographing the ring of   EL97734 , another BHG, with an 'Orange Darvic', landed nearby.  Swinging the camera around, I captured the code -   2AJV .  I knew, I had seen this bird before, though it had been a while.

Returning home, I checked my spreadsheet, to discover, that I had last seen this gull, on Christmas Day, in 2016, here at Victoria Park.  This, now my fourth sighting of   2AJV , here at Victoria Park, I first came across it, on the 14th November 2015.    2AJV , had been ringed as a chick, on the 19th June 2014, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre, in County Down.

The distance from Castle Espie, to Victoria Park, is again, roughly 14 kms / 9 miles (NW), the duration now being 4 years, 6 months and 6 days.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AJV   -  Victoria Park, Belfast  (25 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 19th June 2014, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down)

My penultimate stop of the day was at the Dargan Industrial Estate, where a couple of weeks ago, I recorded three 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls.  A fairly large group of gulls rested on the barren land, which once formed part of a landfill site here.  I scoped these several times, before heading off to the beach at Kinnegar.

In between times, I also checked the gulls at the Waste Transfer Station, eventually spotting an immature Great Black-backed Gull, with a 'colour-ring'.  Zooming through the fence with my camera, I easily captured the code 1L8:C, on a 'White Darvic'.  I immediately knew by the letter 'C', that this gull would have been ringed, most probably as a chick, by The Clyde Ringing Group, in Scotland.

I have emailed, Iain Livingstone - the Group's Ringing Secretary, for the birds ringing details.  Off hand, I'd guess, that 1L8:C, was ringed either on Horse Island or Lady's Isle, in Ayrshire, Scotland.

Great Black-backed Gull  -  1L8:C  -  Dargan Industrial Estate, Belfast  (25 Dec 2018)
(Waiting on the Ringing Details)

Finally, with the afternoon, quickly disappearing, I arrived at Kinnegar Beach.  My aim, was to sort out a Bar-tailed Godwit, and I needed to see and photograph both legs, to either confirm a re-sighting or possibly a new bird entirely.

With the tide quickly receding, around 100 to 120 Bar-tailed Godwits, had arrived, but at first, I could not see the bird that I was after.  Scoping through the other gulls and waders, I eventually spotted another one of Adam's Black-headed Gulls -   2CCJ .  I knew straight away, this was a new sighting for me, which was confirmed after checking my spreadsheet at home.

As Adam, has not been responding to emails, I'll report this bird to the BTO, through my DemOn account.  Checking through my records though, I have a   2CCH   and   2CCP , so   2CCJ , would have been ringed on the same date and the same location, as the afforementioned birds.

Therefore,   2CCJ , was ringed on the 24th June 2016, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre, in County Down.  Strange to think, that today's three sightings of Adam's gulls, all have the letter '  J ' in their codes, and all were ringed at Castle Espie.  Once again, I suspect, that this is a first re-sighting since being ringed.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CCJ   -  Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, Co. Down  (25 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 24th June 2016, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down)

With the tide now well out, I had begun to despair, whether or not, I would spot the 'colour-ringed' Godwit.  As some of the Godwits, started to move around, there was my bird with the 'Yellow Rings'.  Not only that, it had 'colour-rings', on the other leg as well.  Zooming in with my camera, I could see 'White over Blue', on the birds left leg.

That confirmed it, this was the very same bird, that I had spotted here on the 4th March 2018.  I have emailed Job ten Horn, reporting my latest sighting, also citing that the 'Red Flag', which used to sit in between the two 'Yellow Rings', has now completely gone.  It will be interesting to see if this bird has been reported elsewhere since I last saw it.

Ringed on the 3rd September 2008, on a Polder, on the Wadden Sea, in north-west Holland, only three sightings, other than mine here at Kinnegar, have been reported.  In September 2008, and in May 2011, the Godwit, was spotted at two different locations, around the Wadden Sea, both not far from the ringing site.  In December 2015, WB-YRfY, turned up, on the north-west shore, of Bank d'Arguin National Park, in Mauritania.

Bar-tailed Godwit  -  WB-YRfY  -  Kinnegar Beach, Holywood, Co. Down  (25 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 3rd September 2008, at Terschelling, Strieper Polder, Holland)


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