Friday, 5 April 2019

May The Games Begin...

Unlike 'Game of Thrones', where the winter is coming, for me the winter has ended - though, with our current weather, it does not seem like it.  Talking of Game of Thrones, I along with many of you, cannot wait for the final episodes to unfurl.  Over these last few weeks, I have been watching the seven previous seasons, after returning home from work at night.  Who will win the throne?

No matter who survives until the end, I must comment on an excellent production by HBO, and certainly to all the actors who took part, well done to you all.

It's now that time of the year, when many of our wintering birds, will be well on their way home, to breed for the summer.  This is also the time, when my blog winds down.  Instead of 'Reading Rings', I will be out and about looking for our own nesting birds, with the view of ringing their chicks.

Posts, will most likely be made on an infrequent basis, pending on what information I receive.  'Ring Reading', does not stop entirely, as from time to time, I will be out looking for our 'ringed' breeders.  Every so often, I will check into the 'Live' Norwegian and Polish Ringing Databases, to see if there are any latest reports, of birds recorded here this winter, and those which have gone unrecorded from earlier years.

Despite extensive searching, some gulls recorded last winter, were not recorded this winter.  They could have died, or simply slipped by un-noticed, but I will keep checking for them.

As can be read below, I cancelled, what was to be my final weekly visit to Antrim Marina.  This past winter there, has been a nightmare and frankly, I cannot see things improving next winter.

Other than that, this winter has been excellent, with many old and new ring sightings having been recorded.  I cannot wait for next winter to arrive, so I can begin the whole process of recording our returnees.

As I say, my blog will now take a 'back seat', but I hope my readers have enjoyed my efforts to record ringed birds.  I also must thank all of the other observers who have submitted their ring sightings for inclusion in my blog.  Not only do their records add to our knowledge of wintering birds, but the blog produces a hard copy of their efforts - THANK YOU All.

      Antrim Marina       
Sunday, the 31st March, or Monday, the first of April, was supposed to be my last weekly visit to Antrim Marina this winter.  I decided to cancel the visit, owing to the number of disastrous visits over recent months.

Now that the breeding season is almost upon us, many of the gulls have now moved on towards their breeding sites.  Throughout the summer, I will conduct random visits to the Marina, to record the resident Black-headed Gulls, especially any of those that I have caught and ringed, over these past two winters.

The construction work, of the new cafe, will continue over the summer, which will not help in recording 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls.  Work is to be completed by August 2018, the planned month for the cafe to open.  August, is also the month, when I begin my 7th winter of 'Ring Watching at Antrim Marina'.  

Hopefully, next winter does not see the disturbance, that the gulls had to experience, over these last few months.  Somehow, I doubt it, and a good wintering site, has now been destroyed.  A good study, has become a poor study, but I will have to persist no matter what.


      Ringing Details Received       
Graham McElwaine, who is the ringing coordinator for the Irish Brent Goose Research Group, has now returned home from his visit to Australia.  Graham, is now playing 'catch-up', responding to all of the Brent Goose sightings, which have been reported to him.

Among these, are three of several Brent Geese, which I have reported over the last few weeks.  Graham has included temporary PDF files for each of these three birds, which are updated at a later time.

Brent Goose - Yellow I / Yellow 3
I recorded this bird, on the 2nd & 30th March 2019, at Kinnegar Beach, Belfast Lough, Co. Down.  It was ringed as an adult female, on the 12th May 2007, at Jörfi, Álftanes, in SW. Iceland.  The duration since being ringed, is now 11 years, 10 months and 18 days.  Still to be fully updated, it's re-sighting history can be read (here).

Brent Goose - Black H / White P
I recorded this bird, on the 2nd & 3rd March 2019, at Kinnegar Beach, Belfast Lough, Co. Down.  It was ringed as an adult male, on the 9th February 2018, at Dundrum, County Down, here in Northern Ireland.  The duration since being ringed, is now 1 year, and 22 days.  Still to be fully updated, it's re-sighting history can be read (here).

Brent Goose - White V / White J
This goose was spotted walking on the road, beside the play park on the seafront at Millisle, County Down, on the 3rd March 2018.  It was ringed as an adult female, on the 16th January 2007, on Strangford Lough, in County Down.  The duration since being ringed, is now 12 years, 1 month and 15 days.  Still to be fully updated, it's re-sighting history can be read (here).


On the 24th March 2019, I spotted a 'colour-ringed' Black-tailed Godwit (GR-PNPNP), during a visit to the Castle Espie Wetland Centre, in County Down (blog).  Being a new sighting, I reported the bird to the registered contact, given in the 'Guide to Colour-Ringed Black-tailed Godwits (PDF).  Having waited for a while, and receiving no reply, I reported the bird to the BTO, through their 'Online Ringing Database'.

On Thursday, the 4th April, I received a reply from the BTO, with the ringing details attached.  My Godwit, was ringed as a juvenile, on the 20th December 2009, at Mahee Island, which is situated 6 kms to the south-east of Castle Espie.  No great distance here, but the duration since ringing, was 9 years, 3 months and 4 days.

As the ringing details, also included the Godwit's 'metal-number', I entered this onto the 'DemOn Database', to discover that this was the first official reporting for the bird.  It is possible that the bird has been re-sighted in the past, but I have learnt, that many project organisers fail to submit those sightings to the BTO.


      From Richard Else       
I received an email from Richard Else, on the Friday 29th March 2019, concerning a Common Gull, from my own 'Colour-Ringing' Project.    2BHL , was spotted by Ric, at Doon Bay, on Rathlin Island, earlier that day.    2BHL , was ringed as a chick, on the 24th June 2018, at Arkill Bay, on Rathlin Island, which is about 2kms to the north of Doon Bay.  The duration since being ringed, was 9 months, and 5 days.

Ric, and his birdwatching partner Hazel Watson, have been watching the Common Gulls on Rathlin, as many are now returning, prior to the oncoming breeding season.  Both, are aware of my ringing project, which began during the summer of 2017, and some of those surviving youngsters from that year, may attempt to breed this summer.

In 2018, I ringed 69 Common Gull chicks on the southern arm of Rathlin Island, 53 of which, were large enough to be fitted with a 'Blue Colour-Ring'.  Of those 53, which were 'colour-ringed', Ric's sighting today, is only the second of those chicks to have been recorded over this past autumn/ winter season.  On the 19th August 2018, I spotted   2BCL , at Cushendun Harbour, further south along the east coast of County Antrim.

My thanks to Ric & Hazel, for reporting their sighting, and hopefully, there are more to come.  Ric & Hazel, have compiled the Rathlin Island Bird Report, copies of which can be found on the side-bar of my blog.

Common Gull  -    2BHL   -  Doon Bay, Rathlin Island, County Antrim  (29 Mar 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 24th June 2018, at Arkill Bay, Rathlin Island, County Antrim)
(Photo Courtesy of Ric Else)


      Saturday 30th March 2019       
Another late start for a Saturday, I decided to check out the gulls at the RSPB's Window on Wildlife Reserve in Belfast.  Having already had one Dutch-rung Mediterranean Gull, confirmed recently, I am still hoping to complete the 'metal' number for a second Dutch Med Gull.

Watching the nest platform, from hide one, a pair of Med Gulls, were present, but neither were ringed.  I remained at the hide for a considerable amount of time, in the hope, that one or both of the 'metal-rung' Dutch Med's would appear.  They never did, but I recorded two 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, from Adam McClure's Northern Ireland Study.

The first of these, was   2AJF , this being my sixth sighting of the gull, and the fourth record for 2019.    2AJF , was ringed as a chick, on the 19th June 2014, but it's first re-sighting happened to be here at the RSPB Reserve, on the 12th May 2018, when I recorded the gull breeding on the nesting platform (PDF).

My second sighting of   2AJF , was made on the 9th December 2018, when I recorded it wintering on the nearby Dargan Industrial Estate.  Kinnegar Beach, also close to the reserve, was the site of my first sighting of   2AJF , in 2019 (17th February).

Prior to today's sighting, I have recorded   2AJF , on this same nesting platform, on the 2nd & 9th March 2019.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AJF   -  RSPB Window on Wildlife Reserve, Belfast  (30 Mar 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 19th June 2014, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre, County Down)

The second Black-headed Gull, was   2CJF , this being only my second sighting of this bird.  I first recorded it, on the 26th August 2018, at nearby Kinnegar Beach.  Ringed as a juvenile, on the 3rd July 2016, at Blue Circle Island, on Larne Lough, it appears that   2CJF , is attempting to breed for the first time, here at the Reserve.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CJF   -  RSPB Window on Wildlife Reserve, Belfast  (30 Mar 2018)
(Ringed as a Juvenile, on the 3rd July 2016, at Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim)

Leaving the RSPB Reserve, I drove the short distance to the beach at Kinnegar.  Knowing the tide was due to come back in, I positioned my car overlooking the beach.  As I arrived, a couple had just got out of their car, and walked down onto the beach, carrying a garden fork and a bucket.  To my dismay, they proceeded towards a large flock of Common Gulls, numbering somewhere near to the 100 mark.

Stopping just shy of the gulls, they began to dig into the sand.  The gulls were wary, with some walking away, but in the most part, others stood their ground.  I began scoping through them and spotted one bird, with a green 'colour-ring'.  The bird, was probably from Norway, but was quickly obscured by other gulls.  At this point, I grabbed my gear and walked out towards the couple that were digging.

Scoping through the gulls again, I could not re-locate the bird I was after, and soon afterwards, they all took to the air, as the couple approached even closer.  Sugar!!, I thought to myself, there's one that got away.

Oystercatchers, were by far the most numerous species on the beach, numbering over 150 birds.  Looking through these, I saw one 'metal-ringed' bird, but no sign of the two Icelandic 'colour-ringed' birds, that I recorded on many occasions this winter.  Perhaps, they too, are on their way back home.

A group of 45 to 50 Brent Geese, attracted special attention from me, as I noticed that a few were carrying 'colour-rings'.  As the tide pushed the birds ever closer, I recorded 5 ringed birds, two of which were recent re-sightings, 2 new birds, and 1 that I recorded back in April 2018.

This bird was Blue 2 / Blue K, which I spotted at Glynn, on Larne Lough, on the 15th April 2018.  Graham McElwaine, will send me an updated PDF File in due course, but for now, I've added my old one showing the movements of Blue 2 / Blue K, up until my sighting at Glynn (read).

Brent Goose  -  Blue 2 / Blue K  -  Kinnegar Beach, Belfast Lough, Co. Down  (30 Mar 2019)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 7th February 2012, at Sandyford, Co. Dublin, Republic of Ireland)

One of the new Brent sightings, was White L / Blue S.  I've reported the bird to Graham, and he will get back to me at a later date, with it's ringing and re-sighting history.

Brent Goose  -  White L / Blue S  -  Kinnegar Beach, Belfast Lough, Co. Down  (30 Mar 2019)
(Waiting for the Ringing Details)

My latest sighting of Red H / Red J, is my fourth record for 2019, having noted it's return to Kinnegar Beach, initially on the 17th February.  I first recorded Red H / Red J, last year, here at Kinnegar Beach.  Just the single sighting, on the 4th March 2018, it was partnered to a male - Red H / Red H, which sadly, failed to return after the summer.  Again, Graham, will forward an updated PDF File at a later date.  In the meantime, I've added the file, which Graham sent to me last year (read).

Brent Goose  -  Red H / Red J  -  Kinnegar Beach, Belfast Lough, Co. Down  (30 Mar 2019)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 22nd November 2013, at Portmarnock, Co. Dublin, R. of Ireland)

Blue B / Blue C, was my second new Brent Goose sighting today at Kinnegar Beach.  Currently, I'm waiting on the ringing and re-sighting history for this bird, to be forwarded by Graham.

Brent Goose  -  Blue B / Blue C  -  Kinnegar Beach, Belfast Lough, Co. Down  (30 Mar 2019)
(Waiting for the Ringing Details)

The fifth Brent Goose, was Yellow I / Yellow 3.  Today's sighting, was my second record for this bird, with my first sighting, having been made on the 2nd March 2019.  In my blog entry, I recorded the bird as Yellow 1 / Yellow 3, but will have to correct that.

Graham, has sent me a copy of the birds PDF File, which has yet to be updated, but it contains a substantial record of re-sightings, since the bird was ringed in Iceland, in 2007 (read).

Brent Goose  - Yellow I / Yellow 3  -  Kinnegar Beach, Belfast Lough, Co. Down  (30 Mar 2019)
(Ringed as an Adult Female, on the 12th May 2007, at Jörfi, Álftanes, SW Iceland)


      From Suzanne Belshaw       
On returning home from work on Thursday night, I checked my emails, to find one from Suzanne Belshaw.  Earlier that day, Suzanne spotted a 'colour-ringed' Herring Gull, on the mudflats at Dargan, in Belfast.

Although, Suzanne already knew, the bird was from the Dublin Project, I was asked to report the bird to my 'Ring Reading' counterpart - Graham Prole.  On Friday morning, Graham - on the ball, as always, replied to Suzanne.

  298:D , was ringed as a chick, on the 26th June 2018, on the roof of Dublin City's Mater Hospital.  Suzanne's sighting at Dargan, was the first record of the gull, since being ringed (PDF).

My thanks goes to Suzanne, for sharing her sighting, and to Graham, for his quick reply.

Juvenile Herring Gull  -    298:D   -  Dargan Mudflats, Belfast Lough  (04 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 26th June 2018, at the Mater Hospital (roof), Dublin City, Republic of Ireland)
(Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Belshaw)


No comments: