Friday, 16 August 2019

Old'ish Oyk...

Another later than anticipated post, but I was hoping for details for a couple of birds, which have not been forthcoming.  Last Saturday to Monday, was not particularly good for me, for one reason or another, and I was beginning to feel, that I would have very little to report.

However, emails from Graham McElwaine and Ian Enlander, reporting their ring sightings, gave me something to work on.  I'm always happy and pleased to report on ring sightings from other people, as not only only does my blog act as a hard copy for their efforts at recording rings, but I can also make sure, those sightings do reach the BTO.

The weather for this weekend, appears to be a bit 'iffy', and already it appears that my available time to get out and about, could be a trifle limited.  I'll do my best, as I need as much as possible to report on, and hopefully I'll do better at Antrim Marina, which offhand seems to be another Monday morning visit.

      Antrim Marina - Monday 12th August 2019       
It eventually had to happen.  As I did not get out on Saturday, I decided to use the little time that I had on Sunday, to go 'Ring Reading', around Belfast.  In doing so, I decided to carry out my weekly visit to Antrim Marina - today, Monday 12th August.

Having planned on an early start, I was going to conduct a four hour visit, beginning at 8am, finishing at midday.  This meant that I could return home, to grab a couple of hours sleep, which would set me up for work on the night shift, beginning at 6pm, until 02.00am.

Arriving at the long avenue, which leads down to the Marina, I duly found it cordoned off, and only residents which live along the avenue, and pass-holders, were the only people which were allowed down the avenue.  Apparently, there was a golf tournament being held, on the course adjacent to the Marina.

As there were no parking areas anywhere close to the start of the avenue, this would have meant a long walk carrying all of my equipment, which was something that I was not willing to do.  I therefore returned home, to do some painting around my garden, which led to me missing my first ever weekly 'winter' visit to Antrim Marina, after six years.

With the continuing construction work on the new cafe, beside the Marina, I probably wouldn't have recorded much anyway.  Hopefully, I can get to the Marina next weekend.


      Sunday 11th August 2019       
Due to unforeseen family circumstances, I could not leave home yesterday, which resulted in, an eight hour stint of power hosing, around my home.  I have a large slabbed back garden, whereby moss and algae build up, which has to be cleared a few times each year, along with the paths at the side and front of the house.  By the time, that I had completed my marathon clean up, my back was near to breaking point, and my right hand was numb, with 'handle-grip'.

Even today, Sunday, I had limited time to get out, so I postponed my visit to Antrim Marina until tomorrow, and made a late start, heading off to Belfast.

My first stop, was at the RSPB's Window on Wildlife Reserve, where I hoped to record 'metal-rung' Roseate Terns, from either the Rockabill or Lady's Island Lake colonies in the Republic of Ireland.  These Terns, carry two 'metals', one of which is unique to either colony.  These unique rings are taller than the other BTO 'metal', and I'm hoping to catch the code on these with my camera.

Since my last visit here, on the 4th August, I have seen photos on the NIBA website, where these special Roseate Terns, have been appearing on the Reserve.  Even, on Tuesday 13th August, another such tern appeared.

Having spent the best part of two hours, looking at terns from 'hide 2', only a few 'metal-rung' Common and Arctic Terns were spotted, these being too far away to read the 'metals'.  One Roseate Tern, was spotted on the tern nesting platform, but this bird bore no rings at all.

Knowing the tide, had already began to recede at nearby Kinnegar Beach, it was time to go, and park the car there.  On arrival, the beach was already covered in a mass of gulls and waders, numbers of which I have not seen here since last winter.

Having constantly scoped through everything time after time, only one 'colour-ringed' Oystercatcher was spotted.  It had a 'coded' red ring on it's right leg, the likes of which I've never seen before.  To get closer to this bird, I had to drive along the private road, which leads to an army camp.  Although there are CCTV cameras along the road, I knew I'd be watched, so I quickly took a number of photos of the Oystercatcher, so as not to push my luck.

Being in the car, is just like being in a hide, and I was able to get close enough, not only to capture the code on the 'Red Darvic', but also managed a number of photos of the 'metal' ring as well.  Returning to the car park, I checked through my photos.  The 'Red Darvic', on the birds right leg was inscribed with the code '  Y1 ', whilst a plain 'red coloured ring', was fitted above the 'metal ring', which read -   FP48164 .

It's not very often, where a 'metal' on an Oystercatcher can be read.  Despite having recorded many 'metal' rung Oystercatchers in the past, I had only successfully read a 'metal' on two previous occasions - at Sandy Bay, Larne, and on the Copeland Islands.

On returning home and checking for my bird on the cr-birding site, and I found the project concerned -  I sent an email to Simon Fosters, but as yet, there has been no reply.  I also reported the bird via my DemOn account, to the BTO, including both the 'metal' and 'colour marks'.

Having entered the 'metal' number onto DemOn, I was able to see the dates for this birds ringing and re-sighting history, the downside, is that the locations are not given as well.    FP48164 , was actually a replacement ring, which had been fitted, on the 17th March 2018, which means the Oystercatcher had been caught (controlled) by another ringer.  This was also the last time that this Oystercatcher, had been seen until today.

  FP48164 , was originally ringed as   FA73649 , on the 29th March 1996, as an un-sexed adult.  After ringing, it was recorded on four occasions - 18th March 2002, 14th March 2003, 20th March 2006, and on the 4th April 2015.  Unfortunately, I've no idea when the 'colour-rings' were fitted, whether, when originally caught in 1996, or when controlled in 2018.  I really need a reply from Simon, for all to be revealed.

However, the ringing recovery details, have arrived from the BTO.    FP48164 , originally rung   FA73649 , was ringed on the River Spey, Newtonmore, in the Highlands Region of Scotland.  The distance from Newtonmore to Kinnegar Beach, is 292 kms / 181 miles (SSW).  It is now 23 years, 4 months and 13 days, since the bird was ringed, easily making it the oldest Oystercatcher, that I have yet recorded.  It might seem to be quite old, but it is a long way off from the BTO's longevity record for this species, being 41 years, 1 month and 5 days.

Oystercatcher  -  FP48164  -  Kinnegar Beach, Belfast Lough, Co. Down  (11 Aug 2019)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 29th March 1996, on the River Spey, Newtonmore, Highlands, Scotland)

With no further rings spotted, I returned home.  However, the result for my Oystercatcher, was still well worth the afternoons trip out.  Hopefully, Simon will reply at some point, supplying me with the birds full history.  Perhaps, some of my Scottish readers know Simon, and could get him to contact me.


      From Graham McElwaine       
Whilst I was busy in Belfast, Graham McElwaine had better luck on Sunday, at Kilclief Bay, on Strangford Lough, in County Down.  Here, he recorded five 'colour-ringed' birds, which included two Common Gulls, one from my own project, and one from Shane Wolsey's former project, which I now take care of.

Common Gull - Blue 2HPP
This bird certainly had Graham 'on the ropes'.  The 'Blue Darvic', was in very poor condition, and though Graham could make out the number   2 , and the letters   PP , but he was not so sure whether the first letter read as an ' A ' or a ' H '.  I was able to sort out his dilemma, as checking through my records, I had actually used the last of the   2A**   series of rings, in 2017, whilst ringing Common Gull chicks on Rathlin Island.  These last rings, just happened to include   2APP , which meant that ring would be in good condition, unlike that one recorded by Graham.

This could only mean, that his sighting was that of   2HPP , which, with one previous sighting, was no stranger to Strangford Lough.    2HPP , was ringed as a chick, on the 11th June 2012, on the Copeland Islands, in County Down.  The single sighting since being ringed, until today, occurred on the 9th June 2014, when Kerry Mackie, reported the gull as breeding at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre, a little further up the shore of Strangford Lough,
from Graham's sighting at Kilclief Bay.

I would very much doubt, if   2HPP , was actually breeding in 2014, as at that time, it would not have been anywhere near to being mature enough.  The distance from the Copelands to Kilclief, is just 38 kms / 23 miles (S), and the duration is now 7 years, and 2 months since being ringed.  As I have discovered, since taking over Shane's former Common Gull Project, as well as beginning my own, our 'colour-ringed' birds do appear very elusive.  Sightings are few and far between, and   2HPP , is another example of an elusive bird.

Common Gull - Blue 2BBX
  2BBX , is from my own 'colour-ringing' project which began in the summer of 2017, and this gull was ringed as a chick, on the 18th June 2018, at Rue Point on Rathlin Island.  The only previous sighting of   2BBX , before being reported by Graham, was on the 12th July 2018, when Richard Else reported the young gull, as having fledged.

The duration since fledging is now 1 year, 1 month and 24 days, and the distance from Rathlin Island to Kilclief Bay, is 112 kms / 69 miles (SSE).  I fully expect, that if   2BBX   survives through this coming winter, it should return to Rathlin next summer to prospect a potential breeding site for 2021.

Mediterranean Gull - Red PPN5
Today's sighting of the Polish-rung Mediterranean Gull, is the second record of this bird having being spotted in Northern Ireland.  It was also Graham, who first recorded   PPN5 , at Millquarter Bay, on the 18th July 2018.  Millquarter Bay, is just down the road from today's sighting in Kilclief Bay.

I reported the latest sighting onto the live 'Polish Ringing Database', and at the same time, checked for updates on the re-sighting history of   PPN5 .  The gull has not been reported anywhere since the previous sighting made by Graham.  Ringed as a chick, on the 20th May 2014, at Wejdyki, in Poland, it's full re-sighting history can be read (here).

Herring Gull - Black T2WF
A juvenile Herring Gull, rung   T2WF , was ringed as a chick, on the 30th June 2019, on the Calf of Man, just off the southern coast of the Isle of Man.  Graham's sighting was the first record of the youngster, 1 month and 12 days after being ringed.  Kilclief Bay, is situated 58 kms / 34 miles (NW), from the Calf of Man.  My thanks goes to Mark Fitzpatrick, for supplying the information.

Sandwich Tern - White KBK
(White) KBK, was ringed as a chick, on the 16th June 2015, on the island of Inish, at Lady's Island Lake, County Wexford, in the Republic of Ireland.  After ringing, it was spotted twice on the island in the following 10 days.  It's next two re-sightings, were recorded at the Mile 4 Saltworks, in Namibia, Africa, on the 18th March 2017, and on the 6th April 2018.

Graham's record of (White) KBK, today at Kilclief Bay, completes the re-sighting history of this bird.  The distance from Lady's Island Lake, to Kilclief, is 244 kms / 151 miles (NNE), the duration now - 4 years, 1 month and 26 days since being rung.  My thanks goes to Tony Murray, for supplying the ringing and re-sighting history.

Unfortunately, Graham does not take photos, which is a real shame.  As he is the ringing coordinator for the Irish Brent Goose Research Group, Graham also spends a lot of time out 'Ring Reading', especially for Brent Geese.  Not only do photos confirm sightings, they act as a 'hard copy', for the same.  Graham, knows only too well, that this is how I go about recording 'colour-ringed' Brent Geese.  Perhaps, someday, Graham will be persuaded to use a camera.  It would certainly be super to add photos of his sightings onto my blog.


      From Ian Enlander       
On Monday 12th August, I received an email from Ian Enlander, reporting two ringed birds which he spotted at Whitehead, on the County Antrim coast.  The first, a Herring Gull, rung -   0X:W , was easily sorted out, as I had a copy the ringing data, for these birds which were ringed on the Copeland Islands.  As mentioned frequently, Adam McClure, used to be the ringing coordinator for these Copeland birds, but these days, we cannot get any response.

On checking my spreadsheet,   0X:W , was ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 23rd May 2014, as part of a new project.  I've no idea, as to who has taken over the project, but according to what information that I have on my spreadsheet, it appears that Ian's sighting of   0X:W , is the first record of the gull since being ringed.

I reported Ian's sighting to the BTO, through my DemOn account, and discovered that there have been no previous sightings reported directly to the BTO.  As with my sighting of   0E:W , at Bangor in County Down, on the 25th May 2019, there are still many Herring Gulls from this project, awaiting their first sightings.  This is quite amazing, for such a large species of gull.

Ian's sighting of   0X:W , was made 5 years, 2 months and 20 days, since ringing, and the distance from Big Copeland Island to Whitehead, is 14 kms / 8 miles (NW).

Herring Gull  -    0X:W   -  Whitehead, Co. Antrim  (12 Aug 2019)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 23rd May 2014, on the Copeland Islands, Co. Down)
(Photo Courtesy of Ian Enlander)

A Common Tern, was the second bird spotted by Ian, bearing two plain coloured rings on the birds left leg.  Ian believes that he has tracked down the owner of the bird, but has received no reply as yet.  I also reported the tern to the BTO, citing it's 'colour-marks', but at present, the sighting is on hold as 'BTO Queried'.  This probably means, that the BTO does not have the relevant ringing data, and may have contacted the owner of the project.  Should we get a result, I will publish the details on a later post.

My thanks goes to Ian, for reporting his sightings, at least these are on the system now.  It's so wasteful, if sightings go unofficially reported.  

Common Tern  -  Blue/Yellow  -  Whitehead, Co. Antrim  (12 Aug 2019)
(Waiting for the Ringing Details)
(Photo Courtesy of Ian Enlander)


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