Monday, 13 May 2019

Finding Time...

At last another post.  Just lately between one thing or another, I've been distracted from regular birdwatching, or even having time to work on this article.  At present, I have enough info for another post, which I must push on and complete.  Most of our nesting birds have now settled down on eggs, and I have recorded a few ringed birds at their colonies.

From next weekend onwards, several visits to nest sites will be made, especially at Castle Espie.  A small number of Common Gulls, from my new ringing project have turned up, which I'll have to report on.  There's bad news / good news, concerning the rooftop nesting gulls, at the Tesco Warehouse in Antrim Town, as well as a rare sighting in Northern Ireland, of a ringed Caspian Gull, spotted by Graham McElwaine.

      Sunday 28th April 2019       
With Storm Hannah, having passed through yesterday, today was dull, cool and still a bit breezy.  I waited until the early afternoon, before leaving to go to the RSPB's Window on Wildlife Reserve, and to catch the incoming tide at Kinnegar Beach.

At the WoW Reserve, I had planned to view the nesting platforms, in front of the visitor centre and hide '1'.  At hide '1', I was hoping to have another go, at completing the 'metal' number, on the Dutch Mediterranean Gull -   3.**2.4*3 .  Having gone to the visitor centre first, I spent the best part of an hour, searching through the Black-headed Gulls for rings, but none were spotted.

As I was about to leave, when I fell in with a fella and a very lengthy conversation then followed.  With his Ministry of Defence connections, he was looking for a ringer, who could undertake some ringing at some of their installations.  From what I was being told, some 'mouth-watering' opportunities may arise in the future, including a well known site for breeding Lapwings.

If this Lapwing site does become available, it would be an excellent site where the chicks, safe from foxes, could be 'colour-ringed'.  He can also, easily arrange for me to gain a 'Permit' from the MoD, to ring at such sites.  The permit, would also allow me to take my car onto the private road, which leads to the army camp, close to Kinnegar Beach, the car being used as a mobile hide.  I was not going to this year, but now have to apply for a disturbance licence from the DoE, as raptor ringing will also be involved - all interesting stuff.

As the conversation lasted so long, I had to skip the Mediterranean Gulls, and head straight over to Kinnegar Beach.  The tide was further up than I had expected, so was glad to get here when I did.  Once again, Common Gulls, were by far the most numerous species, and like my previous visit, numbered 100 to 150 birds.

I started scoping through these, and eventually spotted a 'White Darvic', but this was not on a Common Gull.  The bird was still a long way off, but at first, I was not quite sure, whether it was a Black-headed or a Med Gull.  Once clear of the other gulls, I could see that it was a 2nd Calendar Year Mediterranean Gull.  By luck, I had taken 6 photos of the bird, when it flew off.  I suspected, that this was another Dutch-rung bird, which I was able to confirm on returning home.

Despite my photos being taken from a distance, I just about caught the code - White 3PRT.  I reported the bird to Camille Duponcheel, who replied, even before I got out of bed on Monday morning.  A first re-sighting, White 3PRT, was ringed as a chick, on the 22nd June 2018, at De Kreupel Island, on Lake IJsselmeer, in north-west Holland.  This is interesting, as it continues the trend, where by a number of Dutch-rung Med's from this island, have been recorded around the Belfast area in the last couple of years.

My thanks to Camille for his quick reply, along with the gulls ringing details. 

Mediterranean Gull  -  White  3PRT  -  Kinnegar Beach, Belfast Lough, Co. Down  (28 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 22nd June 2018, at De Kreupel Island, Lake IJsselmeer, NW Holland)

Continuing to scope through the Common Gulls, the next two 'colour-ringed' birds, belonged to my own new project, which began in the summer of 2017.  One of these, was a 2nd Calendar Year bird, which I would have ringed as a chick last summer.  Unfortunately, the youngster took off, whilst I was waiting for it to move clear of the water's edge, so that I could obtain a few photos.  It flew towards Carrickfergus and I never saw it again.

The second bird, was a shade more obliging.  Although still a long way off from where I was positioned, it moved clear of the other gulls, and a number of photos were taken.  Once again, I just about managed to capture the code -   2BAH , and this was one of my Rathlin Island birds.  Ringed as a chick, on the 24th June 2017, at Rue Point, today's sighting was the first since being ringed.

This, along with a couple of other birds, recently reported to me by Ric Else, on Rathlin, is further evidence of my gulls returning to Northern Ireland.  I reckon, that these birds, although not quite two years of age as yet, are likely to prospect future nesting sites, hopefully at Rathlin, but possibly around other County Antrim colonies.  Although, one or two birds may attempt to breed this summer, I'm not really expecting too much, until next year.

Common Gull  -    2BAH   -  Kinnegar Beach, Belfast Lough, Co. Down  (28 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 24th June 2017, at Rue Point, Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim)

The fourth 'colour-ring' to be spotted on today's visit to Kinnegar Beach, and the 3rd Common Gull, was that of a bird I've already recorded twice.    2J08 , was caught and ringed, by the Clyde Ringing Group, as a fledged juvenile, on the 16th September 2018, at Blackness Castle, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, in Scotland.

My first sighting of   2J08 , was made on this very same beach, on the 10th November 2018, followed by another sighting on the 5th January 2019, at Whitehouse Lagoon, situated on the northern side of Belfast Lough, opposite Kinnegar Beach.  It's good to see, that   2J08 , has survived it's first winter, and has remained within the Belfast Lough area.  Depending on it's survival, this young bird looks set to be recorded here for years to come.

Common Gull  -    2J08   -  Kinnegar Beach, Belfast Lough, Co. Down  (28 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as a Fledged Juvenile, on the 16th September 2018, at Blackness Castle, Stirlingshire, Scotland)


      Black-headed Gulls - RSPB Window on Wildlife Reserve       
Since my last visit to the RSPB's Window on the 13th April, my three latest visits, were made on the 20th, 22nd and 28th.  Many of the Black-headed Gulls, are now sitting tightly on eggs, but I've been on the lookout for 'colour-ringed' birds belonging to Adam McClure's Northern Ireland Study, or should I say former Study.  Ongoing or not, I still regard it as very important, to try and follow these birds as best as possible.

Stopping at the visitor centre first, on the 20th, my initial priority, was to try and complete the numbers, on two 'metal-ringed' birds, which were present directly in front of the window at the centre.  There was no sign of   EZ9**05   today, or on my two subsequent visits made on the 22nd and 28th.

However, I completed the number for the 2nd bird, having recorded   EZ33143 , on the 13th.  This birds appears to be a female, which was standing guarding a nest, which had been built among a small circle of stones.  I had much bother trying to take photos of the ring through a double-glazed window, even though the bird was only a short distance away.  Checking to see what digits I had captured, I was pleased to find, that I had recorded the whole number -   EZ33143 .

Later, back at home, I went to enter the number on my spreadsheet, but the predictive text was showing   EZ33136 , and   64 , which meant I had already recorded two birds from this ring series.  As it turned out,   EZ33136 , which was also 'colour-ringed' -   2BP2 , had been recorded by Cameron Moore, on the 28th August 2017, at Whitehead, located on the north-east edge of Belfast Lough.

  EZ33164 , was a bird that I recorded in the car park of the Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, here in my home town of Ballymena, on the 6th November 2017.  Just by chance, I fell in with   EZ33164 again last winter, at the harbour in the coastal village of Carnlough, on the 16th February 2019.

These two, plus today's bird -   EZ33143 , were all ringed as chicks, on the 20th June 2017, at Elvanfoot, South Lanarkshire, in Scotland.  I remembered about an email, from Iain Livingstone, of the Clyde Ringing Group.  He had stated that they took 120 'colour-rings', expecting to take many back home again, but such was the success of the BHGs, they ran out of 'colour-rings', and had to settle with a few chicks being ringed with 'metals' only.

  EZ33143 , was still present at the nest, on the 20th, but there was no sign of the bird on the 28th, despite my lengthy visit at the centre.  It might be likely, that this bird, may not have reached full maturity, and was just going through the motions.  I'll check again on my next visit the this RSPB Reserve.  

Black-headed Gull  -    EZ33143   -  RSPB Window on Wildlife Reserve, Belfast  (20 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 20th June 2017, at Elvanfoot, South Lanarkshire, Scotland)

  2ASF's , first re-sighting this spring, was recorded on the 3rd March, when I spotted it on nesting platform 2.  On the 20th April, it along with it's mate, suddenly appeared in front of the visitor centre where they went into a full courtship display.  On the 22nd, it was seen back on nesting platform 2.

  2ASF , was ringed as a chick, on the 18th June 2013, at Blue Circle Island, on Larne Lough, Co. Antrim.  It is known to winter, at the nearby Whitehouse Lagoon, having been recorded there in the autumn/winters of 2015, 2016 & 2018.  It's first breeding season appearance here at the RSPB Reserve, was recorded in March 2016, and it was also here during the breeding seasons of 2017 and 2018.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ASF   -  RSPB Window on Wildlife Reserve, Belfast  (20 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 18th June 2013, on Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim)

The sighting of   2ATJ , here on the reserve was really pleasing.  I ringed this bird with a 'metal' ring, on the 31st May 2016, as part of my re-training as a ringer.  I had been invited by Ken Perry, from the Causeway Coast Ringing Group, to attend a ringing session at Inch Island Lake, in County Donegal.  Although, not my nominated 'A' ringer, Ken supervised my ringing of a number of Black-headed Gull and Sandwich Tern chicks.

Adam McClure, joined us, on the next two visits to Inch, which saw many Black-headed Gull chicks, being fitted with 'Orange Darvics' from his Project.    EZ61019 , which had been ringed on my first visit, was caught again, and fitted with -   2ATJ .

This was the last we heard of this bird, until I spotted it on the nearby Kinnegar Beach.  Although I did not know it at the time, it wasn't until Adam replied to my email, this was the bird I had ringed at Inch - I never knew of the 'colour-ring' codes used on the site.  That sighting at Kinnegar, was made on the 11th March 2018, and here it was now, on the 20th April 2019, on nesting platform 2.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ATJ   -  RSPB Window on Wildlife Reserve, Belfast  (20 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 31st May 2016, at Inch Island Lake, Co. Donegal, R. of Ireland)

  2BLK , was a new sighting for me, on the 23rd February 2019, here at the Window on Wildlife Reserve.  I have now recorded the gull on four occasions, with re-sightings having also been made on the 3rd & 9th March 2019, as well as today.

  2BLK , was no stranger to me, as I reported the gull to Adam McClure, on the behalf of Derek Polley, on the 15th March 2018.  Derek, had spotted   2BLK , on the nest platform, but despite several visits, I never came across the gull at all, until this year.

  2BLK , was ringed as a chick, in June 2014, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre in County Down.  The only other records for   2BLK , were made on the 8th & 9th October 2015, when recorded by David Nixon, at Millquarter Bay in County Down.

Black-headed Gull  -    2BLK   -  RSPB Window on Wildlife Reserve, Belfast  (22 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 19th June 2014, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down)


      Black-headed Gulls - Castle Espie Wetland Centre       
Today's visit to the Castle Espie Wetland Centre (22nd April 2019), is my third visit this year, having previously called by, on the 2nd February and on the 24th March 2019.

During my previous visit, on the 24th March, I recorded two of Adam's Black-headed Gulls, which were new sightings to me -   2AHB   &   2AHT .  I reported both birds to the British Trust for Ornithology, but these two gulls were not on their system.  They emailed Adam McClure, for the ringing details, and as I write this, Adam has still not responded.  For now, I'll just have to wait, and if either of these two gulls, have any sort of re-sighting history, it will probably go un-recorded.  If any of my readers have ever recorded either of these two Black-headed Gulls, could you get in touch with me.  Even better, should you have a copy of a PDF File from Adam, will you send it to me (email address in the side-bar opposite).

Also, on my previous visit, I recorded a 'partial' number on another Black-headed Gull -   238 .  I had a good look for this bird today, but could not locate it.

As far as nesting goes, the Black-headed Gulls, appear to be some two to three weeks behind their counterparts at the RSPB's Window on Wildlife Reserve in Belfast.  Some 100 to 150+ birds, many in their pairs, were resting on the bank of the tidal lagoon, where they basked in the sunlight.  Occasionally, a bird would stand up revealing an 'Orange Darvic'.  In other parts of the Wetland Centre, other gulls were busy building nests.

In all, eight 'colour-rings' were spotted, and the codes were read on seven of these.  Interestingly, most of those read, belonged to younger gulls.  More interesting, hardly any gulls, are attempting to nest in the main concourse, where they would be in close contact with the public.  This was not the case last year, and I'm wondering if the staff at the centre, are deliberately preventing the gulls from nesting here.  We'll see how things progress, over later visits.

Of the seven 'colour-rings' that I read, I'll deal with each in alphabetical order.

 2AHN , was spotted, along with it's partner, resting on the mudflats of Strangford Lough, in front of Castle Espie's 'Brent Hide'.  Although, a long way out, my camera still captured the code.  This is my second sighting of   2AHN .  On the 27th May 2018,    2AHN , was recorded within the breeding colony at the Wetland Centre.  Having reported my sighting to Adam, it turned out to be the first re-sighting, since the gull was ringed as a chick, on this site, in June 2014.

Black-headed Gull  -    2AHN   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (22 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 19th June 2014, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre)

The sighting of   2APR , was also my second record for this bird, which is currently building a nest.  I first recorded   2APR , on the 24th June 2018, which at that time, was another first sighting since being ringed as a chick, in June 2015. 

Black-headed Gull  -    2APR   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (22 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 23rd June 2015, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre)

  2ARL , was also ringed as a chick in June 2015, at Castle Espie.  It was another gull which went un-recorded until I found it nesting at the centre on the 13th May 2018.  I also recorded it for a second time on the 27th May 2018, and I have no further records of it until today.  This bird appears to have a nest, but there were no eggs in it.

Black-headed Gull  -    2ARL   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (22 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 15th June 2015, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre)

Today's sighting of   2CAN , is my second sighting of this gull at the Centre this spring, having recorded it on the 24th March 2019.  As can be seen in the photo,   2CAN , is now busy nest building.

  2CAN , was ringed as an un-fledged juvenile, in June 2016, and also went un-recorded until I came across it here on the 27th May 2018.  It nested in exactly the same spot, where I recorded it today.  These three sightings, are the only records I have for this bird.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CAN   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (22 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as an Unfledged Juvenile, on the 24th June 2016, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre)

  2CBP , was another bird which I recorded for only the second time, and is another that is currently building a nest.  My sighting, on the 24th June 2018, here at Castle Espie, was the first record of the gull, which was ringed as an un-fledged juvenile, in June 2016, here at Castle Espie.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CBP   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (22 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as an Unfledged Juvenile, on the 24th June 2016, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre)

  2CBR , was busy nest building, when I spotted it today.  Ringed as an un-fledged juvenile in June 2016, it also went un-recorded, until I found it here on the 27th May 2018, and for a second time, on the 24th June 2018.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CBR   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (22 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as an Unfledged Juvenile, on the 24th June 2016, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre)

The sighting of   2CCJ , here at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre, was my first record of the gull here, though it was no stranger to me.  Another bird, which had been rung as an un-fledged juvenile, in June 2016, my first sighting of this gull, was on Kinnegar Beach (Belfast Lough), on the 25th December 2018.  I did report the bird to Adam, but as is now the norm, received no reply.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CCJ   -  Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (22 Apr 2019)
(Ringed as an Unfledged Juvenile, on the 24th June 2016, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre)

As can be seen from my reports here at Castle Espie, the Black-headed Gulls are clearly going un-recorded, except for my efforts.  The Centre offers an unique opportunity to record the 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls at close quarters.  No chicks were ringed here last summer by Adam, nor anywhere else for that matter.

I sent an email to 'Kez' Armstrong, who was a member of staff at the Centre, who is also a ringer.  I proposed to offer my 'Blue Darvics', which have been registered for use on BHGs, so that chicks could be ringed this summer.  I was aiming at continuity at the site, but discovered that 'Kez', had re-signed from the Centre, last September.  Apparently, there are no other ringers among the staff, which meant I was on a lost cause here.

Disappointing, but I'll aim to follow the fortunes of the gulls here for as long as I can.  At present, there are many 'colour-ringed' gulls, which nested here last year, but still not recorded so far this year.


Whilst I was scoping the Black-headed Gulls for rings, a voice said to me, that there was coffee in it, if I could spot a Med Gull (Mediterranean Gull).  Looking up, it was a male member of staff from the Wetland Centre.  A short conversation followed about what I was doing, and my previous Med Gull sightings here at Castle Espie.  This included   PYU8 , which I recorded here twice, and was last reported in Portugal.

About an hour later, whilst I was inside the 'Brent Hide', I could hear the distinct call of a Mediterranean Gull.  Rushing outside to take a look, there was a pair flying overhead, landing on one of the small islands on the breeding lake.  Before leaving Castle Espie, I tried to find that male member of staff, to see if he was as good as his word.  I couldn't find him, but now he owes me a coffee, or should that be a 'pair of coffees'.

Pair of Mediterranean Gulls at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down  (22 Apr 2019)


      Wintering Gulls Back Home       
Recently, I checked the 'Live' Polish and Norwegian Ringing Databases, to follow up on their gulls that were recorded wintering in Northern Ireland, this past winter.  None of the Common or Mediterranean Gulls, from either country have been recorded back home.

Checking up on the Black-headed Gulls, two Polish and a few Norwegian birds, have been re-sighted.  One of the Norwegian birds, was reported to me last October, by a Mark Edgar.  For some reason, I've seemed to have forgot to add a post for - White J5TZ, which Mark spotted, on the 2nd October 2018, at Ballysaggart Lough, Dungannon, in County Armagh.

Recently, I emailed Mark, to see if he would check up on this gull.  A reply came back, to say it had been recorded on the 1st March 2019, in Norway, but the location was not given.  Mark added, that after his sighting in October, White J5TZ, had been spotted in Dublin City, on a couple of occasions in December.

This prompted me to check out Graham Prole's blog (here), and there it was.  I then sent an email to Graham, to see if he could send me a copy of the re-sightings list, from the Norwegian Database, and permission to use a copy of the photo from his blog.  Obliging as ever, Graham sent me what I'd asked for.

Graham, recorded J5TZ, on the 16th December 2018, at Blanchardstown, on the edge of Dublin City.  The re-sightings list, then threw up quite a surprise.  J5TZ, was next recorded on the 25th December 2018, at Connswater, in the City of Dublin.  However, the given Latitude & Longtitude, meant the gull had in fact been seen at Connswater, in Belfast, something everyone had seemed to overlook.

This was the last report of J5TZ, in Ireland, as it was next spotted back in Norway, on the 31st March 2019, at Smestaddammen, in Oslo, 4kms (NW) from it's original ringing site.  It was also recorded at Smestaddammen, on the 11th, 15th & 28th April 2019, which brings the gulls re-sighting history up to date.

Black-headed Gull  -  White J5TZ  -  Blanchardstown, Dublin, Republic of Ireland  (16 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 13th June 2013, at Filipstad, Oslo, Norway)
(Photo Courtesy of Graham Prole)

When I check the Databases, not only do I check on the gulls recorded here last winter, I also check on those reported from previous winters.  A small number of these have had no updates, and it is likely that those particular birds have perished somewhere along the line.

The Norwegian - White J2UP, was not re-sighted here last winter, but was a bird that I first recorded on the 25th December 2017, which as it stands, is still it's only re-sighting outside of Norway.  I spotted it at the Connswater Shopping Centre, in Belfast, whilst I was looking for my 'Christmas Day', Black-headed Gull - White J4TJ.  After December 2017, it was recorded back in Norway, on the 20th April 2018, and wasn't seen again there until the 1st April 2019.  Both of these latter sightings were made at Tuskjær, just to the south of Oslo.

White J2UP, was ringed as a 3rd calendar year female, on the 8th April 2013, at Langvannet, 25 kms / 15 miles (NE), of Tuskjær.  It might be possible, that J2UP, was just passing through Belfast, when I recorded it, in 2017, but as it was a late December sighting, I've a feeling that this bird was here, and went un-recorded during this past winter.

Black-headed Gull  -  White J2UP  -  Connswater Shopping Centre, Belfast  (25 Dec 2017)
(Ringed as a 3rd Calendar Year Female, on the 8th April 2013, at Langvannet, Lørenskog, Norway)

Norwegian Black-headed Gull -   J2E1 , is a bird which I recorded on the 28th January 2019, at my local park (The Peoples Park), in Ballymena, County Antrim.  Having made fairly regular visits to the park throughout winter, this was my only sighting of this gull.  The park is difficult to check for rings, as there are not that many places that the gulls can perch on.

  J2E1 , was caught and ringed, as an un-sexed adult, on the 14th June 2018.  Having been a fairly recent rung bird, it may be possible, that this gull has visited Ballymena, during previous winters, when un-rung.  My sighting was the first record, since the gull was ringed, and since then, it has been re-sighted back in Norway, on two occasionsOn the 11th April 2019, it was seen at Smestaddammen, and on the 25th April 2019, at Frognerparken, both sites situated within the City of Oslo. 

Black-headed Gull  -    J2E1   -  The Peoples Park, Ballymena, Co. Antrim  (28 Jan 2019)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 14th June 2018, at Ankerbroa, Oslo, Norway)

  JJ02 , was recorded wintering at Rhanbouy Park, Carrickfergus, for the second year running.  Over the 2018/19 winter, I noted the gull on four occasions - 19th August, 18th November, 23rd February, and finally, on the 17th March 2019.

Since then,   JJ02 , has been re-sighted twice back in Oslo.  On the 15th April, it was spotted at Bestumkilen, and then on the 23rd April, at Frognerparken.  These two sites, were 4 kms, and 2 kms, away from the original ringing site at St. Hanshaugen.

During the winter of 2016/17, I had spotted a Black-headed Gull, just south of Rhanbouy Park, which was fitted with a 'Green Darvic'.  Although, I never got to read the code on the ring, I strongly suspect, that this was indeed   JJ02 ,    

Black-headed Gull  -    JJ02   -  Rhanbouy Park, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim  (23 Feb 2019)
(Ringed as an Adult Female, on the 12th June 2014, at St. Hanshaugen, Oslo, Norway)

Back in August of 2018, raptor enthusiast, Jim Wells contacted me about two 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, which he spotted at Belvoir Park, in Belfast.  Jim, did not have his telescope handy at the time, so was unable to read codes on these rings, one being White, and the second being Green.

This prompted me to contact Suzanne Belshaw, who lives in Lisburn, and therefore a lot handier to Belvoir Park, than I would be.  Suzanne, also a keen 'Ring Reader', took a look on the 20th August 2018, and found the gull with the 'Green Darvic'.  Feeding on the grass, she was unable to read the code until it flew up onto a nearby lamppost, where she took a few photos, capturing -   JEX9 .

  JEX9 , is a relatively new rung bird, having been ringed on the 29th March 2018, at Mosvangen, in the southern outskirts of Stavanger.  It was first re-sighted, on the 9th June 2018, still in Stavanger, and then was spotted by Suzanne, in August.  As far as I'm aware, no further attempts were made to record   JEX9 , here for the rest of the winter, and the gull was reported back in Stavanger, on the 1st April 2019.

Black-headed Gull  -    JEX9   -  Belvoir Park Pitches, Belfast  (20 Aug 2018)
(Ringed on the 29th March 2018, at Mosvangen, Stavanger, Norway)
(Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Belshaw)

Black-headed Gull -   J08K , was a bird that I first came across on Christmas Day 2017, at the Waste Transfer Station, at Dargan, in Belfast.  This was my only sighting of this gull, before it was reported twice back in Norway.  On the 23rd & 26th April 2018, it was seen at Øksnevadtjern, 16 kms north from where it was rung at Nærbøparken, Hå.

There were no other summer records for   J08K , before it surfaced again in Northern Ireland.  On the 11th November 2018, whilst at Castle Espie, I spotted what I thought was a new Norwegian BHG, with a Green Darvic.  A triumph for my then new camera, I captured the code from a very long distance, only to find that I had just re-sighted   J08K .  Why were you here I wondered - instead of being in Belfast.

In my blog entry, I suggested that   J08K , would make it's way to Belfast, and sure enough, I found the gull on the 9th December 2018, on the former wastefill site at Dargan.  Between the 24th March and 30th March 2019,   J08K , has been reported on five occasions - 4 times at Sandnes, 18 kms (N) of it's ringing site at Hå, where it was spotted once.

Black-headed Gull  -    J08K   -  Belfast Waste Transfer Station, Dargan  (25 Dec 2017)
(Ringed as an Adult Male, on the 3rd April 2015, at Nærbøparken, Hå, Norway)

The first of the two Polish Black-headed Gulls, which have been reported back home, has become well known to me.  White TY43, is quite often recorded at the Baptist Church, in the town of Antrim, on completion of my weekly winter visits to Antrim Marina.

Ringed in February 2012, TY43, was first recorded in Northern Ireland, when Adam McClure, fell in with the gull at Antrim Marina, on the 29th October 2013.  On the 16th October 2017, I discovered TY43, at Antrim's Baptist Church, where I recorded it wintering on several visits, the last being on the 25th February 2018.

After that, it was next spotted on the 30th March 2018, at Olsztyn, where it had been ringed.  On the 5th August 2018, TY43, returned for another winter at the Baptist Church, and was last seen here on the 11th March 2019.  Seven days later, on the 18th March, it was reported back in Olsztyn.  Between the 18th & 27th March 2019, TY43, was spotted on 14 occasions around Olsztyn, by several observers.

Black-headed Gull  -  White  TY43  -  Antrim Baptist Church, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (28 Jan 2019)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed 2nd Calendar Year Bird, on the 9th February 2012, at Olsztyn, Poland)

  T58T , was ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 16th July 2016, at Świnoujście, in north-west Poland.  It's first re-sighting was made on the 15th December 2016, when it was discovered at Lurgan Park, in County Armagh.  It wintered at Lurgan Park, and was last recorded there on the 19th February 2017, before being reported on the 15th July 2017, back at Świnoujście, which was the only summer sighting.

  T58T , returned to Lurgan Park, and was spotted on the 1st December 2017, and again wintered there until the 27th February 2018.  During the spring and summer of 2018, it was only recorded on a single occasion, again at Świnoujście, on the 23rd March.

On the 13th December 2018,   T58T , was back at Lurgan Park, for the third winter running, when recorded by Suzanne Belshaw.  Strangely, this was the only sighting of   T58T , here last winter for some unknown reason.  Suzanne conducted a few visits to the park, and I went along a few times as well.  One thing we do know, and that is,   T58T , was seen alive and well, on the 9th April 2019, once again at Świnoujście.

Black-headed Gull  -    T58T   -  Lurgan Park, Lurgan, Co. Armagh  (13 Dec 2018)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 16th July 2016, at Świnoujście, NW. Poland)
(Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Belshaw)


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