Friday, 20 September 2019

German Sandwich...

As stated in last week's post, I would undertake more of an effort to get out and about, following a lax birthday weekend, which saw very little birding.  On Saturday, I did work the County Down coast, and on Sunday re-visited the previous day's sites, plus the addition of a couple of others.

A couple of new ring sightings were recorded, including that of a 'metal-rung' Sandwich Tern from Germany, a first for Northern Ireland???  The two days also saw the re-sightings of a number of birds, which adds to their longevity, a feature of my 'Ring Reading', where I try and re-sight each individual at least once every year.  Sadly, I think I've lost my oldest British-rung Black-headed Gull, not that it has died, but I think it's 'metal-ring' has now fallen off.

One of the main aspects of 'Ring Reading', is that every ring tells a story.  You get to know the origins of the bird concerned and the re-sighting history, if any.  To me, this is very rewarding, considering the effort needed to find and read those rings in the first place.  I still cannot comprehend the enjoyment that 'Twitchers', appear to get, spotting birds generally.  We may have an idea from where they came from, but an un-ringed bird provides no information of it's origin or where it's been - that we can only guess.

The use of a good camera provides concrete evidence for all ring sightings, and I advocate the use of one by all budding 'Ring Readers'.  Far too often, I read about the sightings of scarce or rarely sighted species, but more often than not, there are no photos to back up these sightings.  With today's technology, there should be no excuses with backing up whats being reported.

      Antrim Marina - Monday 17th September 2019       
Once again I chose a Monday for my latest weekly visit to Antrim Marina, but firstly, I must add the sightings made by Graham McElwaine.  Graham, was up in my neck of the woods, on Tuesday 10th September, the day after my last visit.  Having had to attend a meeting in Toomebridge, Graham called into the Marina, and recorded 9 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls.

Five of these -   2AAK ,   2ABS ,   2AAB ,   2BRA   &   2CSL , were not recorded by me the previous day, but all were among the 22 'colour-ringed' recorded so far this winter.

In my reply to Graham, I also made a confession.  This was concerning   2ABA , which I had considered as dead.  During one of Graham's previous visit to the Marina, on the 28th November 2018, he recorded   2ABA , who at that time I suspected as having died.  This was further strengthened, as I never recorded the bird once during my weekly visits during the winter of 2018/2019.

You can imagine my surprise, when   2ABA , 'returned from the dead', when I recorded it on the 2nd September 2019, complete with a photo taken.  Black-headed Gulls tend to be habitual in their movements, but what   2ABA   had been up to, or where it had been will remain a mystery.  Anyhow, I had to own up, and do a bit of 'grovelling'.

Colour-Ringed Black-headed Gull Recorded by Graham McElwaine, on Tuesday 10th September 2019
 2AAA   2AAB   2AAK   2ABK   2ABS   2BRA   2CJT   2CSL   2CSR 

My latest visit to Antrim Marina, was another disappointment, probably in part, by good weather.  Arriving at 8am, it was very calm and dry, the temperature reading 11.5°C, although at the time, there was a 100% cloud cover.  This changed very quickly, as the sun broke through, and the temperature increased to 14.5°C.

Parking close to the slipway, not a single bird was present, but at the same time, a few gulls were just appearing from the direction of the Lough.  By 08.10, I recorded three 'colour-ringed' BHGs, but further sightings were few and far between.

By 09.45, a high, of 60 to 70 BHGs were present, but once again, many chose to perch on the flat roof of the new cafe, which is still under construction.  It was extremely hard trying to entice the birds down with bread, which proved that they were not particularly hungry.  By 10.30, I had had enough, and decided to call it a day.

Just 9 'colour-rings' were noted, but they were among the 22 'colour-ringed' Black-headed Gulls, which have been recorded so far this winter.  Some BHGs, such as the Lithuanian bred - White T35J, and Adam's birds,   2AAT ,   2AAP   &   2ABF , would normally have been recorded by now during previous winters.  T35J, which was last seen on the 11th March 2019, would be the oldest known bird of these gulls, having been ringed as a chick in June 2006 - the duration being 12 years, 9 months and 8 days, when last seen.

As daylight hours decrease, and with the winter slowly creeping in, I really need poor weather - wet and windy conditions at the Marina, which would certainly see an increase in the number of gulls looking for an easy feed.

Colour-Ringed Black-headed Gulls Recorded Today, Monday 16th September 2019
 2ABK   2CJT   2CSA   2ABN   2ACV   2CSB   2ABL   2AAB   2CTC 

Colour-Ringed Black-headed Gulls Recorded This Winter, But Not Recorded Today
 2AAK   2AAA   2ABS   2ABA   2AAN   2AAV   2BRA 
 2CSJ   2CSK   2CSL   2CSR   2CSX   2CTB    

Other Birds at Antrim Marina
As already mentioned, not a single bird was present at the Marina, on my arrival today, not even a duck, where normally a few of these would be seen.  It was not until 08.50, that seven Mallards arrived.  Gradually, numbers increased to just over 40 birds by the time of my departure at 10.30.

At 08.31, a pair of Mute Swans appeared from upriver, which I believe are the parents of the five cygnets, which did not appear today.  A second pair of Mute Swans flew in from the Lough, landing close to the slipway, and were spotted by the first pair, which had just begun to swim upriver back towards Antrim Town.  I managed to feed the new arrivals with a few bits of bread, before the male of the first pair gave chase.

The new arrivals, were young birds, having very small knobs on their beaks.  Although they were now in their full white plumage, I had a feeling that both were chicks from last year, as both came easily to hand for a feed.  Although they were chased off, they hung around the breakwater, and tried on several occasions to make their way back towards the slipway.

A third, and fully mature pair of Swans arrived in from the Lough, just after 10am.  They took no nonsense from the resident pair, and successfully made their way onto the slipway.  However, no rings were spotted on any of the birds.

Just the one adult Common Gull appeared just before 9am, and remained throughout my visit.  This is likely to be the same bird which appears here during my previous visits, as did the adult Herring Gull, which arrived at 09.55. A pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, who arrived at 10.09, may also be the same pair seen here over recent weeks.

Just one Hooded Crow, and 5 Jackdaws, were the only other species recorded at the Marina today.


      Ringing Details Received       
On Tuesday 17th September, I received a reply from Paddy Jenks, concerning my first ever sighting of a 'colour-ringed' Redshank (see previous post).  Unable to find the appropriate 'colour-ringing' scheme, on the cr-birding site, I contacted Richard du Feu, who in turn copied Paddy into the reply.

Paddy has told me that my Redshank, looks likely to be O-FV, and not O-1V, as I had suggested (plain orange ring on left leg - inscribed black ring on right leg).  The 'Black Darvic', was admittedly a bit on the dirty side, which certainly did not help in trying to read the code.  Ringers themselves would know the codes used, and can therefore eliminate erroneous readings.  Although Paddy, was the contact addressee, he said that the Redshank would have been ringed by Tony Cross, in Cerdigion in West Wales.

My previous dealings with Tony Cross, concerned sightings of 'colour-ringed' Sandwich Terns, ringed in his area, but often, it takes a while for Tony to reply to emails.  For now, I know where my Redshank came from, but will have to wait for the ringing date and any previous re-sighting history.  My thanks anyway goes to Paddy for getting in touch.


      Saturday 14th September 2019       
As mentioned in my previous post, I would endeavour to make much more of an effort this weekend, with County Down being my target.  Saturday's usually mean a late start is in order, as I work on an evening shift the night before.  The start time is often governed by the time of the tides, with me preferring to be at my first site two hours after high tide.

As County Down was my target, and high tide forecast for around 12:15pm, I decided to start at what is now my favourite site for reading rings - Kinnegar Beach, situated on the County Down side of Belfast Lough.

Arriving at 14:15, the tide was beginning to recede, with gulls and waders arriving at a steady pace.  I felt like shooting one young man, aged in his early 20's, as on passing close by me, and seeing that I was using a telescope to view the birds, he deliberately walked out and scared everything off.

I waited until he moved off to the southern end of the beach, before walking out and throwing a large amount of bread onto the shore, to entice the gulls back in.  This worked a treat, and in no time, the birds arrived back in good numbers once again.  A 'colour-ringed' Oystercatcher, which I realised was another returning bird from Iceland was spotted.  I easily captured a few photos, then that young man once again walked towards the birds.  He knew what he was doing, as every now and again, he glanced back towards me.  At that point, I had had enough of him and departed.

The Oystercather, rung YL-W(UA), was ringed as a breeding adult in May 2018, and I recorded it wintering on Kinnegar Beach on three occasions between August 2018 and January 2019.  Having reported my sighting to Böddi in Iceland, I received an updated PDF File, which showed that YL-W(UA), was spotted back in Iceland, on two occasions during this past summer.  My thanks to Boddi for the update.  It was good to record another returning bird, and the PDF File can be read (here).

Oystercatcher  -  YL-W(UA)  -  Kinnegar Beach, Belfast Lough, Co. Down  (14 Sep 2019)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Breeding Adult, on the 23rd May 2018, at Ísólfsskáli, Southern Iceland)

On leaving Kinnegar, I drove straight on to Millisle, to see if I could record any ringed Common Gulls.  With having my own project on this species, and having taken over Shane Wolsey's former project on Common Gulls, I'm always eager to record new rings or re-sight some of the previous gulls, to add to their longevity records.

Arriving at Millisle, I stopped by the north beach first.  With the tide now well out, plenty of gulls of various species were present.  Scoping through them, the first 'colour-ring' to be spotted, was on a lone Mediterranean Gull.  It was too far away, for the code to be read through the telescope, but my camera made short work of the distance.  Having scoped through the other gulls, a couple of 'metal-rung' Common Gulls were spotted, but there was no chance to read those rings.

Returning to my car, I checked through my photos of the Med Gull, which bore a 'Yellow Darvic', and had me thinking it was a German bird.  Due to the distance, I had a fuzzy image of the code, which appeared to read -   2XT6 .  As the code started with the number 2, this would have been a bird ringed in the British Isles, but I did not recognise the code.  I knew this one would be bettered viewed at home, once downloaded onto my laptop.

I then proceeded towards the south beach at Millisle, which is usually the best spot to read Common Gull rings.  As I was driving towards the village, I noticed a Herring Gull standing on the sea wall beside the road.  As I passed it, I saw that it was 'colour-ringed', so I had to turn off and drive back towards it.  Parking a short distance away, so as not to spook it, I easily captured it's code -   1E:W .  Once again, I recognised the code, as a bird that I've previously recorded.

Knowing it was ringed as part of a project on the nearby Copeland Islands, on returning home I checked for it on my spreadsheet.  Today's, was my third record of the gull here at Millisle, having first recorded it on the 12th March 2016, and again on the 16th June 2018.  Between these sightings, I have a record of the gull being spotted at Donaghadee (a couple of kms north), by Marc Ruddock, who spotted it on the 28th February 2017.

Adam McClure, was formerly the ringing coordinator for the Copeland Project, but I've no idea if anyone has taken over this role.  The duration since being ringed is now 4 years, 4 months and 8 days, the distance from Big Copeland Island, being 8 kms / 5 miles (S).

Herring Gull  -    1E:W   -  Millisle, Co. Down  (14 Sep 2019)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 6th May 2015, on the Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

Continuing on to the south beach at Millisle, I at first parked alongside the beach, though there were loads of gulls in the nearby main car park, which were obviously being fed by a family, with two young children.  Scoping the gulls on the beach, no rings were spotted among these, but rings were spotted on a small group of Sandwich Terns at the water's edge.  As they were fairly close to the car park, I drove over, firstly checking the gulls being fed.

A Black-headed Gull with a 'metal ring' was spotted, and another Med Gull with a 'Yellow Darvic', was also present.  I thought 'happy day's - two 'colour-ringed' Med's in one day.  Dismissing the Black-headed Gull till later, I needed to focus on the Med Gull and Sandwich Terns, before anybody came along to disturb them.  Zooming in, to take a photo of the Med Gull, it was actually the same bird that I had spotted a short time ago on the north beach.  The code read   2XT6 , and I couldn't have got better photos.

On returning home, I firstly consulted my spreadsheet, which had no records of   2XT6 , so this was a first record for me.  I then checked out the cr-birding site, to discover this bird was from an Irish Project, based at Sandy Cove, in County Dublin.  The contact, was Sean Kingston, who has yet to reply to my email.

Mediterranean Gull  -    2XT6   -  Millisle Beach, Drumfad Bay, Co. Down  (14 Sep 2019)
(Waiting for the Ringing Details)

Parking along the seawall to look at the Sandwich Terns, the Med Gull   2XT6   then landed on the beach, so I took the photo added above.

Now checking the Sandwich Terns for 'colour-rings', 10 adults plus two juveniles were present.  Both juveniles had BTO rings fitted, as did one adult.  Another adult, had a tall 'metal-ring', which intrigued me, but there were no 'colour-ringed' birds.  By chance, the bird with the unusual ring was closest to me, and I decided to try my luck at capturing something on the ring, which might help to tie down where it came from.

Having taken numerous photos, I took a look to see what I had, to find the code read upwards in two columns, but I did not capture any form of an address, from where the tern may have originated from.  Checking my best photos, I was still unsure of the code, so had a better look on returning home and downloading the photos.

The inscription on the ring appeared to read   6A025A , so I sent an email to my 'Ring Reading' counterpart in Dublin - Graham Prole (Graham's Blog), to see if he had any idea where this ring would have originated.  An hour later, Graham replied, and thought this was an interesting one.  He named a couple of suggestions, as who to contact, which included Frank Majoor, in Holland.

In Frank's reply, he thought the bird was from either Denmark or Germany.  They used such rings as did the Dutch, but the Dutch rings would have the letters NL, included in the code.  Frank, also thought the code for my tern, would actually read   6A0254   and not   6A025A .

Among others, who I emailed, I had included Ewan Weston, a tern enthusiast in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.  He reckoned a Matthias Haupt in Germany would know, and copied him into the email.  On Sunday morning I received a reply from Matthias, confirming that   6A0254 , belonged to him, and requested the sighting details from me.

I sent these along, before heading out on Sunday, but on returning home, the ringing info had arrived back.    6A0254 , had been ringed as a chick, on the 22nd June 2012, on Norderoog Island, part of the Frisian Islands, in Northern Germany.  My sighting of   6A0254 , was the first record of the bird since being ringed (PDF).  The duration was now 7 years, 2 months and 23 days, the distance being 904 kms / 561 miles (WSW).

What a superb sighting this turned out to be, and I thank all those who helped me out on this record, especially to Ewan, for pointing me in the right direction, and also to a delighted Matthias, who supplied the information.  Matthias, also included a very handy guide, concerning these upward reading rings, which I suggest all 'Ring Readers' should download a copy (Guide).  One question remains - is this the first ever German bred Sandwich Tern, to be recorded anywhere in Ireland?

Sandwich Tern  -  Germany    6A0254   -  Millisle, Drumfad Bay, Co. Down  (14 Sep 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 22nd June 2012, on Norderoog Island, The Frisian Islands, Germany)

Now that I had sorted out the Med Gull and Sandwich Terns, my attention returned to the Black-headed Gull.  Waiting until the area was clear of people, I began throwing bits of bread out onto the car park.  Quickly, the gulls arrived as did the BHG that I was after.  Easily taking a few pictures of it's 'metal-ring', I had captured -   EW48510 .

Checking my spreadsheet at home, today's was my third record of   EW48510 , here at Millisle.  The gull had been ringed, as an un-sexed adult, on the 14th August 2017, by the Belfast & Down Ringing Group, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre, also in County Down.  Millisle is situated 14 kms / 8 miles (ENE), from Castle Espie.

I made a number of visits to Castle Espie, during the breeding season this summer, so perhaps this gull does not breed there.  My two previous sightings at Millisle, were made on the 23rd December 2017, and on the 3rd March 2019.  At least another bird has been re-sighted which adds to it's longevity since being ringed, which is now 2 years and 1 month.

Black-headed Gull  -    EW48510   -  Millisle, Drumfad Bay, Co. Down  (14 Sep 2019)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 14th August 2017, at the Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Co. Down)

Leaving Millisle, I drove south to the village of Ballywalter, where I was hoping to re-sight my oldest British-rung Black-headed Gull -   ET02500 .  Ringed as a chick, in June 1998, all 6 of the 7 previous sightings of this bird, were made at Ballywalter Harbour.  My first record for   ET02500 , was made on the 16th July 2016, but on the 9th June 2019, I came across it at Millisle, in full breeding plumage.

This was my last sighting of   ET02500 , who's duration was then 20 years, 11 months and 25 days.  When I last saw the gull, I noticed that a significant gap had opened up in it's ring, which meant there was a good possibility that the ring might fall off.  By the time I reached Ballywalter, the tide was fully out, and not a single gull was to be found around the harbour.

Moving over to the extensive beach, I began scoping the hundreds of gulls spread along it's length.  One 'colour-ringed' Common Gull was spotted, this bearing a 'Blue Darvic', which would have been from my own project.  The gull was a long way off, so I exchanged my telescope for the camera on my tripod.  I found it very difficult to relocate that gull, but when I did find it, it was walking towards the freshwater river which flowed across the beach.

Wading into the river, the gull just sat down and remained there.  Waiting for it to make a move, the usual happened, the gulls were scared off by a walker out with their dogs.  Calling it a day, I decided that I would return tomorrow, and re-visit this stretch of the County Down coast.


      Sunday 15th September 2019       
Returning to County Down, high tide along the coast was forecast for around 1pm, pending on the sites visited.  I started at Kinnegar Beach, where the tide was on it's way in.  Arriving just after 9am, I spent ages scoping for rings, but nothing was spotted.  I then moved on to the nearby Victoria Park, but on arrival there, the car park was for some reason or other, bunged with parked cars.  I couldn't find enough space to attract the Black-headed Gulls with bread, so quickly departed.

Groomsport, was my next stop, arriving there at around 11:30am.  With the tide now well in, there were many groups of gulls roosting on rocky outcrops and on the shore around the harbour.  Lots of Herring Gulls were perched on Cockle Island, but everything that I scoped, not even a 'metal' was spotted.

Walking around the shore of the harbour, there was a large mixed group of Common and Black-headed Gulls, plus a couple of Sandwich Terns.  Many legs were hidden by thick wads of seaweed, but I constantly scoped for rings, as many gulls would frequently move about.  A couple of Common Gulls, were spotted with 'metals', but I had no chance of reading these, as I could not get the angles needed to take photos.

Eventually, I spotted the tip of an 'Orange Darvic', on a Black-headed Gull.  I had to wait for this bird to move, and quite soon afterwards it obliged.  Capturing the code -   2CNB , I thought that I had my first ever re-sighting, of one of Adam McClure's gulls from his former Northern Ireland Project.

On checking my spreadsheet once back home, I was in for quite a surprise.    2CNB , was no stranger to me, as this was my fourth sighting of this gull.  My last sighting was made on the 7th April 2019, on the beach at Ballycastle, on the north coast of County Antrim.  Possibly not of full breeding age, I thought it might attempt to breed or go through the motions on nearby Rathlin Island.

  2CNB , was ringed as a chick, on the 16th June 2017, on Blue Circle Island, on Larne Lough in County Antrim.  I first came upon   2CNB , as a juvenile, on the 23rd November 2017, at Sandy Bay in Larne, which is quite close to Blue Circle Island.  The only other two sightings of   2CNB , were made at Ballyholme, on the north coast of County Down, where Suzanne Belshaw recorded it, on the 19th May 2018, followed by my sighting on the 17th February 2019.  

Black-headed Gull  -    2CNB   -  Groomsport Harbour, Co. Down  (15 Sep 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 16th June 2017, on Blue Circle Island, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim)

Continuing to Millisle, I was gobsmacked, by the number of gulls present on the beach, at the northern end of the village.  It was approaching high tide, but there were a couple of hundred gulls in a feeding frenzy along the shore line.  As well as these, numerous gulls had also parked themselves on rocky outcrops to roost.  The way they were all feeding, it seemed as if there was a vast number of flies around the rotting seaweed, which was causing all of the commotion.

I had a field day scoping through everything for rings, but to my disappointment, only a couple of 'metal-rung' Common Gulls were spotted.  The sighting of a Mediterranean Gull, had me thinking that it was a re-sighting of yesterday's bird, but when I eventually got to view it's legs, it was not ringed at all.

Moving on to the main beach at Millisle, again, there were a large number of gulls busy feeding.  Scoping from my car, more 'metal-rung' Common Gulls were spotted.  Trying to lure them towards me, I had no luck, though one bird came out of the surf just briefly enough, that I could see a tall 'metal-ring', on it's left leg.  Despite being quite close to me, it remained on the water.

I wondered if this could be the Norwegian bird, which I had recorded at Millisle on four occasions between 2017 and 2018, but on checking photos back at home, that gull was ringed on the right leg, not on the left.  This means, I have a new sighting, and I am hoping it will stay around long enough to have another go at reading the ring.

After a while, two 'colour-ringed' Common Gulls were recorded.  The first of these was   2ADX , which is a regular at Millisle, and was ringed as a chick, on the nearby Copeland Islands, on the 1st June 2010.

The second bird, rung   2BCL , was one of my project birds, that was ringed on Rathlin Island, County Antrim.  Returning home, and checking it's details, I had already recorded this one at Cushendun Harbour in County Antrim, on the 19th August 2018.    2BCL , was ringed as a chick, on the 18th June 2018, at Ushet Lough, on Rathlin Island.

I was well pleased to re-sight one of my own project birds.  Cushendun, is 18 kms / 11 miles (SSE), of Rathlin, while Millisle is 86 kms / 53 miles (SSE).  The duration since ringing, is now 1 year, 2 months and 28 days.

Common Gull  -    2BCL   -  Millisle, Drumfad Bay, Co. Down  (15 Sep 2019)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 18th June 2018, on Ushet Lough, Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim)

Common Gull  -    2BCL   -  Cushendun Harbour, Co. Antrim  (19 Aug 2018)

Next stop was at Ballywalter Harbour, where I tried again to locate my oldest British-rung Black-headed Gull.  Although the tide, was now on the turn, a number of BHGs were present at the car park beside the harbour.  Throwing out bits of bread, a small number of gulls landed beside my car.  Among them, was a very 'bossy' Black-headed Gull, which would chase away the other gulls.

The behaviour was exactly the same as   ET02500 , but this bird had no ring.  It may be possible, that this is indeed the same gull, but has now lost it's ring.  When I last saw   ET02500   back in June, a large gap had opened up between the ring butts.  I'll keep trying, just in case today's gull is a different bird, but the signs does not look good.

Moving down to the footpath overlooking the beach, gulls of various species were beginning to arrive to feed.  Although I was plagued by both walkers, and others with their dogs, one 'colour-ringed' Herring Gull was spotted.  Rung   4H:W , I did not recognise the code, but on returning home and consulting my spreadsheet, I had recorded this gull here on the same beach, on the 29th October 2016.  As far as I'm aware, these are the only sightings of this gull, since it was ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 6th May 2015.

As Adam McClure, was the former coordinator for the ringing Project on the Copeland Islands, any others sightings have not been submitted to the BTO, not even my 2016 sighting.  The duration since ringing, is now 4 years, 4 months and 9 days, and the distance from the Copeland Islands, to Ballywalter is 14 kms / 9 miles (SSE).

Herring Gull  -    4H:W   -  Ballywalter Beach, Co. Down  (15 Sep 2019)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 6th May 2015, on the Copeland Islands, Co. Down)

My final 'port' of call for the day, was at Portavogie Harbour (forgive the pun).  Lots of Herring Gulls, surprisingly mostly adults, and a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls, were resting on the rooftops around the harbour.  To get them on the move, I walked a short distance away from my car, and crumbled half a loaf of bread onto the road.

This did the trick, as this stirred most of the birds from the resting spots.  Searching through the gulls on the roof and those that landed on the road, not a single ring was spotted.  With this, I called it a day and headed back home.  It had been a long day out, with just three re-sightings and no new birds.


      From Tom Cooney       
In last weeks post I reported on a Common Gull sighting, which was made by Tom Cooney, in the Republic of Ireland.  The bird concerned, was   2AHV , from Shane Wolsey's former Common Gull Project on the Copeland Islands of County Down, which I have now taken control of.

Tom's sighting of   2AHV , on the 10th September 2019, on the shore in the Rockmarshall area of Dundalk Bay, of County Louth, was a first re-sighting of this gull since being ringed as a chick, in June of 2014.

On Sunday the 15th September, I received another email from Tom.  He had recorded   2AHV   again on the following day (11th September), but on the 14th, Tom also recorded another Common Gull, this one being   2AVA .  On checking my spreadsheet,   2AVA   was not entered.  When I began my own project in June 2017, I had used the last of the   2A**   series of rings, and all of the gulls which I ring are entered onto the spreadsheet.

Being in control of Shane's former project, all re-sightings of his Common Gulls are entered onto my spreadsheet, so with no record of   2AVA , this one also had to be a first re-sighting.  On checking Shane's ringing records,   2AVA   had been ringed as a chick, on the 23rd June 2012, on Big Copeland Island in County Down.  Tom's sighting of   2AVA , was recorded on the same stretch of beach, as that of   2AHV .

Once again, these latest sightings by Tom, reinforces my latest comments on how elusive these 'colour-ringed' Common Gulls are.  I had firmly believed, that there are still many birds from Shane's former project, which have yet to be spotted.  These latest sightings by Tom, confirms my beliefs, and indeed, I have numerous young Common Gulls from my own project, out there waiting on their first re-sightings.

Tom's sighting of   2AVA , came after 7 years, 2 months and 22 days, after being ringed, the distance being roughly 89 kms / 57 miles (SW), from Big Copeland Island.  I thank Tom for another superb sighting.  Could Dundalk Bay, be a hotspot for our Common Gulls from Northern Ireland?  Time will tell, but it appears we have a good pair of eyes on the lookout.


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